June 19, 2014

Hey, Texas Republicans -- We Need A Change

Let's face it -- our state party platform is just too long. Good grief -- it runs 40 pages! Some planks are wonderfully thought out, others are hastily cobbled together, and some even contradict each other -- right next to each other in the platform in one case.

Constitutional Convention - We strongly oppose any constitutional convention to rewrite the United States Constitution. We encourage the Texas Legislature to rescind its 1977 call for such a convention. We call upon other states to rescind their votes for such a convention.

Article V Convention - Under no circumstances shall the Bill of Rights, the first 10 constitutional amendments, be changed in any manner. We urge the Texas State Legislators to take the lead in calling for an Article V Amending Convention of States, for the specific purpose of reigning in the power of the federal government. Any proposed amendments must be ratified by of the states to take effect.

Uh, guys -- an Article V convention is a Constitutional Convention with the power to rewrite the entire Constitution through the amendment process. The scope of its amendments likely cannot be limited (see the original Constitutional Convention for an example of how effective limits would be), and the requirement for ratification of amendments by of the states is already in the text of the Constitution itself -- for the purpose of making sure that any amendment has broad support nationally. So which is it -- is the Texas GOP for or against a Constitutional Convention called according to the terms of Article V of the Constitution? With only a Master's degree in Political Science and 15 years of college-level experience teaching American government, I'm not able to discern where we as a party stand.

Other planks are quite obscure. Take this one.

Selection of Primary Candidates - The SREC should study the Utah model for selecting primary candidates.

Of course, there is an obvious problem with this platform plank -- it does not explain what the Utah model for selecting primary candidates actually is. If you want an explanation of how they do things in Utah, click this link. My initial take on it is that it would require moving the state party convention, the primary, or both -- and that it would have the potential to take the voters out of the equation when it comes to selecting many candidates for state or federal office, leaving the process open to the criticism that the system allows an insular minority to control the process. I'm certainly willing to debate the matter on its merits -- but have we as a party (not a handful of folks on the platform committee) really examined this matter in a way that justifies adopting this plank?

And by the way, the plank discussed above shows another problem with the platform as it currently exists. A platform, properly understood, is a plan of action -- it should put forth the party's position on public policy and what we intend to do if we are given control of the reins of government over the next two to four years. It is not the place to set party rules or deal with internal matters of party discipline or structure, nor is it the place to give instructions to internal party bodies or deal with internal party discipline. Those internal matters should be passed as separate resolutions or added to the party rules if appropriate.

So, my friends, what do you think? Can we fix the series of flawed platforms and the broken process by which they are adopted, creating a platform for the Republican Party of Texas that all of us can be proud of and which does not put us on the defensive before the ink is dry on its final draft?

Crossposted at Texas GOP Platform Reform Project

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