Don't Think of A RINO: How Battleground Texas is the New Scare Word for Texas GOP

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In George Lakoff's New York Times Bestseller “Don't Think of an Elephant” the Berkeley cognitive linguist said Democrats have to change the “frame” of the dialogue in order to persuade voters and motivate them to the polls — the GOP he said, had run circles around Democrats in that department.

The GOP's near total political domination of Texas matched with low turnout allowed a dedicated group of right wing and Tea Party activists to turn their sights on the moderate wing of their party, dubbed RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). Several election cycles of comparing scorecards and trying to out right-flank each other in the Primaries with increasingly harsh rhetoric, the Texas Republican Party has indeed solidified a base. But that base is shrinking, and that hardening has led to a brittleness along with a new external threat.  

Recognition that unity among conservatives (except LGBT conservatives of course) is crucial to the sustainability of the party, the GOP scare word at the 2014 Convention wasn't RINO — it was Battleground Texas.

See why the likes of Dan Patrick are the new RINOs below the jump…As an early rider of the Tea Party wave, Rick Perry was always good at framing — low taxes, fair courts, smart regulation — who is actually against any of those things? But, as the tide begins to shift, especially in Texas, it looks like he's bailing just before it crashes ashore.

Texans may not rely on government for much, but the political reality is starting to set in that Texas has not been investing in the essential things such as water, transportation and education or coming up with a sensible solution on immigration — their own rhetoric won't allow it.

The GOP has been so effective at firing up their grassroots base with anti-immigration sentiment that their own convention delegates rejected a platform amendment, cleverly titled “The Texas Solution,” because it was too lenient. Even Fox News opened it's coverage by saying, “Tea party activists seized control of the Texas Republican Convention.”

While those same Tea Party activists have selected Ted Cruz as their 2016 choice for President, the old guard establishment continues to try to stop the friendly fire by keeping the Democratic Party and efforts by Battleground Texas as their main focus.

Aspiring Presidential contender and current Governor Rick Perry said, “National Democrats think Texas is the new battleground…Let's be real clear. Texas will be their political burial ground.”

George P. Bush characterized himself as the minority youth candidate that could help blunt the existential threat of BGTX saying,

“That is why my race is so important and that is why I need your help. Because in the words of Battleground Texas, they say they are going to turn Texas blue by reaching out to young people and to Hispanics…”

GOP Party Chairman Steve Munisteri raised the stakes by putting the fear of a Hillary Clinton Presidency into convention goers,

“Texas is 38 electoral votes – if the Democrats have any chance of getting Texas, it would mean that they could have 280 electoral votes to start, when it's only 270 to win. I think that's a scary thought. If you're not scared, just close your eyes and picture Hillary Clinton for eight years right after Barack Obama.” He added, “It is not my goal to beat the Democrats, it is my goal to crush the Democratic Party.”

But it seems that they just can't get away from their own isolationist rhetoric. Calling for party unity Munisteri said, “I want to win by such a large margin that we send the DC-ites, the Ohio-ites, the Chicagoians back across the northern border that we didn't secure well enough from the Democrat (strategist),” For the GOP it is all about battening down the hatches, and that bunker-life mentality is more Alex Jones Infowars conspiracy than it is pro-business solutions.

The real RINOs today are folks like Dan Patrick who represent the Tea Party and not the Republican Party. The Texas Republican Party, or at least its state Senate Caucus members of past, have respected traditions like the 2/3s rule, appointing committee chairs of the opposite party and recognize that without minority protections you just have mob rule. For the new Texas GOP it is not about standing their ground on principles, it is about a never ending slog to right.

You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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