The Incredibly Disturbing Texas GOP Agenda Is a Vision for a Theocratic Dystopia
We need to understand the very, very dark forces that we are up against.
The Texas Republican Party held its convention in Houston recently, and they ratified a new party platform. The Texas Tribune reports that at the convention, “the themes ran dark, and activists spoke in apocalyptic, even cataclysmic, terms about the state of the country.” This is similar to what David Brooks observed at the 2021 National Conservatism Conference, where speeches took on an “apocalyptic tone” and speakers like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley exhorted followers to prevent the left from “destroying America.” These conventions show that the Trumpian far-right is energized, angry, and believes they are on a God-given mission to seize power and restore American greatness.
For a preview of what it would look like if these people actually got what they wanted, we can look through the 40-page party platform that came out of the Texas convention. While Texas has unusually conservative Republicans, we should not be surprised to see the GOP in Ron DeSantis’ Florida adopt a fairly similar agenda, and indeed Florida Senator Rick Scott has recently put out his own agenda that is similar in its tone and its radicalism. Let us then go through some of the commitments that the Texas GOP has made to see what we can expect them to do.
First, on guns, predictably, the platform holds that virtually every single restriction on gun ownership should be removed so that anyone can carry any gun anywhere anytime. They want to change the Texas constitution to remove the part allowing the legislature to regulate arms to “prevent crime.” (Crime, schmime!) “Handgun safety and proficiency training” will be provided to all teachers, and anyone with a license to carry a gun will be allowed to bring guns into Texas schools. (Although they don’t believe in licenses to begin with.)
On economics, progressives have succeeded in getting some cities to pass measures like $15 minimum wage laws and paid sick leave policies. The GOP, which believes that it is the God-given right of a business to pay as little as possible and fire anyone who gets sick, sees a serious threat in the ability of cities to pass these kinds of regulations, so the platform calls for stripping municipalities of their ability to pass minimum wage laws and mandatory sick/family leave policies. (Although the document technically says “minimum wage waws [sic].”) Indeed, there has been an ongoing battle in Texas as mostly-Democratic cities have tried to introduce paid sick leave ordinances in recent years and have been thwarted by right-wing state courts.
The Texas GOP also wants to repeal: all estate taxes, all business franchise taxes, the federal income tax, and all property taxes. The answer to the question of “But if you eliminate all the taxes, how will you fund government services?” is, of course, that there will be no government services. The platform calls outright for eliminating most of the federal government. The EPA’s power has already been gutted by the right-wing Supreme Court, but the plan is to abolish it altogether. And that’s just the start.
In a section entitled Unelected Bureaucrats, the agenda proposes eliminating altogether:
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- The Department of Energy
- The Department of Education
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development
- The Department of Commerce
- The Department of Health and Human Services
- The Department of Labor
- The Department of the Interior
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
- The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
- “Any other federal agency or department that is not authorized by the Constitution.” (Including, presumably, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
No word on how federal taxes would be collected, how drugs and food would be checked for safety, who would run the national parks, how airport security would work, whether bank deposits would still be ensured, how workplace safety would be ensured, or how labor-management disputes would be settled. (Presumably the answers are: there will be no taxes, the market will decide which drugs and food are safe, the national parks will be sold to corporations, corporations will do airport security, people won’t deposit their money in unsafe banks, workers will simply quit unsafe jobs, and labor-management disputes will be settled by Freedom Of Contract.) They will also, of course, destroy the remaining shards of the welfare state, and privatize Social Security. (One Republican U.S. senator has already started talking about Bitcoin-based retirement plans.)
But if you thought that the GOP’s agenda was mostly focused on inflicting the most unforgiving form of laissez-faire capitalism on the rest of us, much of it is also concerned with a theocratic social agenda attacking gay and transgender people. They advocate:
- Fully legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people, because “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.”
- Because they “oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity,” trans-affirming medical care should be banned for anyone under 21 (so, not just for children, but for legal adults!)
- “Passing legislation that requires adherence to sex identifications on all official documents that will be based upon biological gender”
- Legislation requiring those who have provided “gender affirming surgery” to compensate detransitioners who are unhappy with the results of that surgery, and be sued for malpractice
- There are to be no public funds for “homosexuality centers” at universities. Instead public universities will be required to create Capitalism Is Awesome programs.
- “We oppose transgender-normalizing curriculum and pronoun use.” The platform advocates that the state should take an “official position” that “there are only two genders.” Presumably “opposing pronoun use” means that teachers are encouraged to misgender their students.
- Of course, “biological men shall compete against other biological men and biological women shall compete against other biological women in athletics.”
- Repealing all hate crimes laws (and not on prison abolitionist grounds)
- Even “homosexual marriages” from other states should not be recognized
Naturally, the social agenda also involves restricting reproductive freedom. The GOP calls for the “abolition of abortion,” and allowing doctors who perform them to be prosecuted for homicide. It also contains an official party position on human embryos, “we support the adoption of human embryos…” “Life begins at fertilization,” it declares. (Which, though the platform doesn’t explicitly state it, would of course furnish grounds for banning Plan B pills.)
In the realm of education, the Republican platform lays out a plan for turning Texan public school students into Constitution-worshiping automatons who know absolutely nothing about sex. That’s not exaggeration; the platform explicitly bans sex education of any kind “in any grade whatseover”:
The GOP also plans to ban any regulation of homeschooling, meaning you can teach your kids whatever bizarro nonsense you want. Who cares if it’s true—that’s not for the Government to say. (Not sure the right realizes this confers a right to indoctrinate kids in the tenets of Critical Race Theory or launch at-home madrassas. But since they are not rigidly committed to consistency, I’m sure if this happens they’d be happy to add a provision saying that homeschooling curriculums cannot be policed, unless they pose a threat to Christian family values.)
In the public schools themselves, the instruction in “geography, economics, economics, US and World History… should focus on American exceptionalism and the benefits of the free-enterprise system and include instruction on the consistent failures of socialism and communism.” After all, once you’ve learned that America and capitalism are great, what more could you possibly need to know about the world? The study of history, the GOP says, “will be heavily weighted toward the study of original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers, and Founders’ writings.” Again, what more could you possibly need to know about the country’s history, once you are familiar with the sacred texts of our great Fathers? There shall certainly be no “education involving race, discrimination, and racial awareness.” Although to make sure students properly “appreciate our American identity,” “Students shall pledge allegiance to the United States and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.” (Sadly, while requiring daily loyalty oaths seems like one of the more fascistic parts of the platform, this bizarre and disturbing practice is already widespread throughout American schools.)
But while the children of Texas public schools will learn little about the history of slavery and Jim Crow, they will all get a strong education in “The Humanity Of The Preborn Child.” The proposed curriculum will use “fetal baby models” and live ultrasounds of pregnant women. (Although teachers must be careful not to accidentally mention how babies are made, which would be illegal.)
On the environment, today’s GOP are almost 100% climate change deniers (or more precisely, those who either don’t believe in climate change or don’t care about it), who believe they have a sacred, inalienable right to drive giant gas-guzzling trucks. The Texas GOP declare that they “oppose all efforts to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant” and reject the idea of carbon taxes, even though taxing carbon is actually a “free market” approach to reducing emissions. The platform goes further, rejecting all policies that try to disincentivize the wasteful use of cars. They write that:
We oppose anti-car measures that punish those who choose to travel alone in their own personal vehicle … and/or intentionally clog vehicle lanes to force deference to pedestrian, bike, and mass transit options (whose users do not pay gas tax).
As we know, the right will die before surrendering their right to drive giant pedestrian-mashing trucks everywhere. So instead of living in cities that look like this:
…everywhere will look like fucking Houston:
The platform does not, of course, lay out any alternative plan for dealing with the climate catastrophe. It simply suggests that the Biden administration is trying to persecute drivers, who are making the Free Choice to spend their days on the scorching tarmac of Texas’ highway-ridden hellscape. (I would not be surprised if the next convention included a platform plank immunizing the drivers of trucks from liability for mowing down any poor pedestrians who have to run desperately across 10 lanes of traffic to get to their jobs.)
On immigration, the agenda is about what you’d expect: abolishing birthright citizenship, getting rid of all refugee resettlement, opposing any path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, building a giant wall, and officially treating undocumented people as “invaders,” plus declaring that the Texas state military must deal with the “invasion.”
On foreign policy, the GOP wants immediate withdrawal from the United Nations and the World Health Organization. It opposes all international treaties on health (after all, those might actually be useful to stopping global pandemics). The GOP makes clear it will not ratify the Rights of the Child Convention (children, after all, have stopped being fetuses and thus deserve no rights). There are plenty of specifically anti-Palestinian provisions, including opposition to any Palestinian state because “it would jeopardize Israel’s security and force Israel to give up land that God gave to the Jewish people as referenced in Genesis.” The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement will be subject to “prohibition… as a form of warfare being waged upon Israel.” What this “prohibition” would look like is left unsaid. (Though banning the “free market” mechanism of boycotts does show quite clearly that the right does not actually believe in freedom or free markets.)
On voting, the GOP platform demands all kinds of new restrictions. Your registration will, for instance, lapse if you haven’t voted in five years. Motor voter laws that allow you to register to vote at the DMV will be repealed. Mail-in ballots will only be given to those who can prove they are physically unable to vote in person. If your driver’s license does not match your voter registration, your license will be canceled. Violations of the election code will be felonies. So, if you’re a person who moves a lot, or who has trouble fulfilling onerous bureaucratic requirements, it’s probably a high risk for you to try voting. They also support repealing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, meaning they have explicitly written into their platform a desire to return to Jim Crow era voting law. (Not that they need to repeal the Voting Rights Act anyway, since the Supreme Court has made clear it is not going to enforce it.)
A few other miscellaneous provisions:
- Preventing the Alamo from going “woke” — The Texas Right has been enraged at recent attempts to tell the more unpleasant parts of the history of the Alamo. So the platform contains a rather comical provision demanding we remember the Alamo and never “reimagine” it. There will be “swift financial and personnel consequences” for any university that removes Texas’ “Come and Take It” slogan. No woke Alamo! The heroic enslavers must be honored!
- Banning contact tracing — The GOP wishes to make sure that no government ever attempts to track down who might have been in contact with someone with a deadly contagious virus. My best explanation here is that the official GOP policy is: public health response must be as deliberately disastrous as possible, because the more people die of a deadly virus, the more it owns the libs.
- Declaring the Texas Legislature’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (perhaps one of the only noble things it has ever done) to be null and void
- Opposition to legal marijuana use and gambling, because for all the right’s talk about freedom, what it actually believes in is the freedom to live the life conservatives want you to live
- No World Heritage Sites will be established in the U.S., a weird provision I suspect comes out of fear that UNESCO will declare sovereignty over the Alamo
- Punishing any corporations that boycott Texas over its stances on vaccines and wokeness
- Enshrining a right to cryptocurrency in the Texas Bill of Rights — After all, scams and fraud are the American Way! It is worth noting here that the entire crypto project has been described by Dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer as “a right-wing hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.”
Finally, as a little cherry on top, the platform asserts that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president of the United States.
Creating a Genuine Hell On Earth
Let us think for a moment, shall we, about the world that all of these provisions, taken together, would create. Voting would be highly discouraged, because anyone who failed to jump through the bureaucratic hoops correctly would risk becoming a felon, meaning that one would have to risk going to prison in order to vote. Texas Republicans have already tried to make an example of a Bernie Sanders-supporting Black woman who mistakenly tried to vote when she was legally ineligible, sentencing her to five years in prison. The GOP’s agenda calls for more of this—of course, in the name of stopping fraud. So no matter how unpopular this agenda gets, the party’s voting restrictions will help it rule as a minority.
The GOP’s utopia is a place where old people have no secure retirement income, and many will be tricked into investing their savings in dodgy crypto projects. Social Security would be privatized, which scammers will love. So poor old people will live without any support, but nobody will care, because this is the just outcome dictated by Personal Responsibility ethics. We will have a brutal dog-eat-dog society in which the weak are considered responsible for their own misfortune, and given no support.
Of course, schools will become even more prison-like, full of cops. “Woke” teachers will be purged, or disciplined into teaching the worship of the state. (It is a myth that the right are anti-state. They are against having a compassionate state and a state whose laws would actually promote human freedom. They are for having a repressive military state that tortures people and throws them in prison.) History will consist of memorizing the Constitution (a totally illegitimate document, incidentally). Climate change will of course spiral completely out of control, because the GOP does not believe in doing anything to stop it.
There will be more and more deranged maniacs shooting people, because guns will somehow be made even more freely available than they are now, and the government will totally abandon its mission of taking care of the vulnerable. When massacres happen, we will be told that the shooter should have exercised more Personal Responsibility, or the victims should themselves have been armed.
I invite you to use your imagination to envisage the implementation of the rest of the provisions.
It is very important to understand that the GOP will do these things if they can. Similar provisions (minus Alamo-specific ones) can be expected in other states. The Republican Party has swung hard to the right. There are no signs that it will moderate itself anytime soon. If they are given power, they will try to build this militaristic nightmare-state. I spend a great deal of my time pointing out the countless ways in which the Democratic Party completely sucks. But let us be clear-eyed about the kind of hell that the far right would like to turn the country and the world into. The new Texas GOP platform is one of the most terrifying documents I have ever read and I urge everyone to read it and take it seriously, since in it we may see the future that awaits us if we do not fight back.