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"Heading Into Nut Country:" Texas GOP's Extremism Makes National News

by: Genevieve Cato

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 04:30 PM CDT

This month it seems like everyone is talking about the Texas GOP.

From the origins of Open Carry Texas to the most shocking aspects of the Texas Republican Party Platform, there is suddenly an interest in writing about just how crazy Texas could get.

But this right-wing extremism is nothing new. Texans have been dealing with Tea Party politics since the wave in 2010 that unseated many Democrats (and moderate Republicans) and has continued to define Republican policy in Texas and divide the Texas GOP. So, why the sudden interest in from folks like the New York Times, Esquire, and Rolling Stone?

More about how the Texas GOP is making national news below the jump.

As Esquire's Charles P. Pierce points out, it is very simple: this isn't just a Texas problem anymore. This is a national issue.

Texas is a big state with a lot of electoral votes, and it is where the last two successful Republican presidential candidates called home. Our Tea Party darling Senator Ted Cruz really loves bringing the government to a halt. State and federal elected officials are heading to the border in droves to take pictures with firearms and show how tough they are on border security (especially in the face of unaccompanied children). The Texas GOP is a national menace, and people are taking notice.

Rolling Stone recently examined the advent of this extremism and the rise of "Lone Star Crazy," delving into how the Republican party in Texas has changed under Tea Party pressure. Harold Cook, interviewed in the article, points out just how drastic this change has been:  

There were pretty strong libertarian and populist streaks, and that still exists among the electorate, but what's new, I think, is a litmus test driven by the Tea Party wing, where if you're not mad enough, if you don't demonstrate a certain level of hatred, then your motives are suspect. Your final votes on legislation don't matter. These two politicians might be voting exactly alike - but the one the Tea Party loves is running around the district all the time screaming about how much he hates Obama.

With groups like Open Carry Texas making national news after demonstrating outside of a Moms Demand Action meeting and forcing chains like Chipotle to explicitly ban open carry in their stores, right wing politics in Texas have become impossible for people outside of Texas to ignore - partly  because of the influence this has at the federal level. As the Esquire piece explains:

John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell, and especially obvious anagram Reince Priebus, who nominally presides over Bedlam, need to be asked every day which parts of the Texas Republican platform they support and which parts they don't. They don't get to use the crazies to get elected and then hide behind fake Washington politesse when the howls from the hinterlands get too loud.

This extremism is embarrassing to the people of Texas, and it doesn't tell the whole story of what's happening in Texas politics. Though plenty of Texans - liberal, moderate, and yes even Republican - share the opinion of the Rolling Stone article about how bad Dan Patrick would be for the Texas as Lieutenant Governor, we probably don't agree on his assured victory (or Greg Abbott's) in November. Most Texans don't identify with this version of "lone star crazy," but we are all implicated in the continued success of a Republican party running ever farther to the right.  

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