Washington, Austin, and Conroe, August 11 – The Republican Party is an institutional failure. It’s tragic, because for 157 years the Grand Old Party has been the greatest political hope for citizens of the United States.
Where the Party is now
Strangely, the Republican Party’s success defines its failure. Just look at where the Party stands today.
In the federal government, Republicans control all three Branches of the United States government. They hold the White House. In the Legislative Branch, Republicans have a 240 to 194 margin in the House of Representatives and a 52 to 48 margin in the Senate. Republicans hold every House and Senate Committee Chairmanship. Finally, in the judicial branch, Republicans hold a 5 to 4 majority on the United States Supreme Court.
Nevertheless, Republicans have failed in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have failed to pass tax reform after controlling the White House and the Legislative Branch for 7 months. The oppressive Dodd-Frank law remains on the books. Very few meaningful bills have passed the House and the Senate and gone to President Donald Trump for his signature.
The Texas State government is not much better. Republicans hold the Governor’s Mansion through the popular Governor Greg Abbott. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is a conservative Republican. Republicans hold an almost two-thirds 20 to 11 margin in the Texas Senate, while they have a similarly enormous margin of 95 to 55 in the Texas House of Representatives. Meanwhile, Republicans hold a 9 to 0 majority both on the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Have the Republicans even come close to passing statewide property tax relief? No. Could the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature pass a State Budget that reduced spending? Not even close. Could the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature enact school finance reform? Nope.
Although you’re probably sensing a pattern here, we still must examine the Montgomery County government. There the Republican majority is far more stark. Montgomery County has not one single member of the other party in office. The County Judge, Craig Doyal, and all four County Commissioners – Jim Clark, Mike Meador, James Noack, and Charlie Riley – are Republicans. All eight District Judges, five County Court at Law Judges, and five Justices of the Peace are Republicans.
In Montgomery County, Texas, one of the most Republican counties in the entire United States, the County government has grown spending faster even than the federal government! Doyal and colleagues are attempting to brag about “reducing” spending for the coming Fiscal Year 2018, when, in fact, they’ve only reduced annual debt service while actually increasing County government operational expenditures to a historically-high level. The County Judge and County Commissioners reward themselves with salaries and benefits that are so high that they make more than the Texas Governor, Attorney General, or four-star generals in the United States military who have far more responsibility than all five of them put together.
In short, the Republican Party seems to stand for absolutely nothing, other than an inability to keep promises.
So what went wrong?
What went wrong?
The Republican Party enjoyed its first national electoral triumph in 1860 with the election of former United States Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. The Republican candidates that year ran on a very brief National Platform that stated, among other planks:
“That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Federal Constitution, ‘That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,’ is essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions; and that the Federal Constitution, the Rights of the States, and the Union of the States must and shall be preserved.”
Even the 1980 Republican Party National Platform seemed to stick to the core principles of the Grand Old Party:
Yes, the 1980 Republican Party Platform, on which former California Governor Ronald Reagan was elected, included the statement:
“Republicans are committed to an economic policy based on lower tax rates and a reduced rate of government spending.”
Two things very clearly destroyed the commitment of the Republican Party to its core principles of lowering tax rates and reducing government spending. (By the way, with continued funding of Planned Parenthood at the federal level, the Republican Party hasn’t done so well with respect to its promises on social issues either.)
First, after the 1968 elections, both political parties began to move away from utilizing conventions to select Party nominees. When candidates could procure the Republican Party nomination directly from primary voters, the Party apparatus lost its clout. Candidates lost interest in the Party’s Platform. Craig Doyal and Charlie Riley most certainly don’t care about the Republican Party Platform and probably don’t even know what’s in it. In 1998, the Governor of Texas bragged that he had never read the Republican Party of Texas Platform and had no intention whatsoever of reading it.
Second, after dominance throughout the United States by the democrat party from approximately 1960 to 1995, on January 1, 1995, the Republicans found themselves in a very new situation. All of a sudden, the great backbencher Newt Gingrich became the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives after the November, 1994, Republican electoral revolution. It was such a mighty earthquake of Republican reform that the down-ballot reverberations even reached to Texas Senate District 4 where unknown Michael Galloway (R-The Woodlands) defeated the Dean of the Texas Senate, Carl Parker (d-Beaumont).
But Gingrich and Galloway didn’t know how to govern. Their successors, including George W. Bush as Governor of Texas, Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, and Craig Doyal as Montgomery County Judge, had nothing to emulate but how democrats had governed. Let’s face the reality: none of Bush, Ryan, or Doyal are particularly creative or “outside of the box” thinkers. Therefore, they began to govern the County, the State, and the Nation like democrats. They didn’t eliminate long-term democrat programs. They feared shutting down any service, even when the taxpayers begged for them to do so. None of Bush, Ryan, or Doyal are particularly courageous people either, nor are their ilk.
With no leadership from within the Republican Party apparatus which might impose some discipline upon elected officials, Grand Old Party leaders and voters looked the other way as elected Republicans just acted like democrats.
Given that Doyal worked during a significant portion of his adult life for democrat County Commissioner Malcolm Purvis and that Doyal ran as a democrat himself for County Commissioner the first time he ran, is it a surprise that Doyal would act like a democrat?
With no leadership and no mechanism to maintain basic principles, it’s not a surprise when institutions fail.