The Republican Party of Texas State Republican Executive Committee will consider banning video recordings of their open meetings this weekend, to prevent anyone from capturing the crazy that happens therein for all posterity.
From the blog Texas Conservative Republican News:
I actually had SREC members tell me that they do not want to be recorded because they “might vote or act differently if they know they are on camera.” What? So you don't want your constituents to see how you vote because you might vote differently if you know they can see you vote?
This actually points to the larger problem facing the Republican Party: while their base tilts ever more conservative, especially on social issues, society is moving fast in the other direction. The rhetoric that wins a Republican primary is death to a candidate in a competitive general election where moderates, swing voters, and actual Democrats matter.
The Republican activist base is so far to the right of the general electorate that it will become increasingly untenable for the party apparatus to hold together the Tea Party and the more moderate, pro-business, anti-regulation types, especially as Texas moves towards swing state status.
Conservative Republican activists want to see if the SREC is adhering to their ideological principles, in order to hold them accountable. Meanwhile, Democrats want to use that video as evidence of an increasingly out-of-touch Texas GOP that is no longer fit to govern in modern society. What's a political party to do?
So, Texas SREC, as I am a Democrat who possesses a generous and giving spirit, I'm just going to give you some free advice here: your problem is not people video taping your meetings, or any other Republican events. Your problem is the crazy, hateful, bigoted, backwards things Republicans say.
Don't want people to know you hate black people? The answer isn't “just don't say you hate black people when others can hear you.” The correct answer is, “actually, don't hate black people.”
Don't want to be viewed as the party overtly hostile to immigration? Condemn Ted Cruz for opposing any pathway to citizenship, rather than simply telling legislators to stop introducing anti-immigrant legislation.
Don't want to be viewed as the party waging a War on Women? Stop taking away women's healthcare, calling rapes illegitimate, and suggesting that the pregnancies that result from rapes are a gift — and when your colleagues say that stuff, condemn it publicly! Don't just pat them on the back or give hundreds of thousands of dollars to support their campaigns.
Don't want to be viewed as openly hostile to LGBT rights? Stop openly opposing them! Stop trying to prevent local governments from offering domestic partner benefits!
(Of course, all of that might make Republicans look a whole hell of a lot more like Democrats, but I digress.)
If Republicans are worried about people videotaping their meetings to create a record of what happens at said meetings, the answer isn't to stop videotaping them. The answer is to stop saying crazy, hurtful, bigoted things — not simply to avoid bad PR, but because you don't believe them any more!
And that applies not just to SREC meetings, but to Republicans in the public sphere general. Don't try to hide your bigotry under the rug so moderates don't think you're anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, or anti-any other group of people who don't belong to your country club or go to your church.
In the meantime, Republican primary voters and the rest of civilization alike deserve to know what the Republican Party of Texas is doing at their SREC meetings, and video provides the best and most compelling record. So for once, I agree with the conservative blogger I linked to above — the Texas GOP needs to be as transparent and open about their meetings as possible, so that all Texans can see what's going on with the party that currently controls our state.