As the Texas legislative session comes to an end, the bills that have passed are peppered heavily with Tea Party ideas. Yet, Tea Party activists contend that the Texas legislature is still not conservative enough. Lawmakers that have spent the entire legislative session pandering to right-wing extremists, may soon recognize that there is no placating the Tea Party base.
For example, the Texas legislature passed a 25 percent property tax cut and a 25 percent business franchise tax cut, but conservative activists are disappointed that they did not cut property taxes further, and abolish the business franchise tax altogether.
Lawmakers boosted “border security” funding to record levels, but anti-immigrant Tea Party leaders are upset that the legislature did not also repeal the Texas DREAM Act and ban sanctuary cities.
The Texas Senate also passed legislation allowing the open carry of handguns in the Lone Star State, but that was not enough to impress Texas Tea Party leaders who still give the decidedly right-wing Texas Senate and House low marks for not being conservative enough.
For example, JoAnn Fleming, the Executive Director for “Grassroots America: We The People”, a Tea Party umbrella group, graded the Texas legislature poorly, stating:
I’d give the Senate a C, and the House a failing grade. Overall, the Legislature would get a D in my classroom.
Tea Party constituents view legislative compromise as selling out. Consequently, many Texas Republican lawmakers fear primary challenges from candidates running to their right. This creates a vicious spiral where lawmakers pass right-wing legislation to appease Tea Party constituents, only to find that such legislation only emboldens Tea party extremists to demand even more.
In 2016, Democrats and Independents must turn out in full force to counteract the voting power of the GOP’s Tea party base. If they fail to do so, the Texas legislature will continue to move further and further to the right. Yet, no matter how far to the right they govern, the Tea Party will try to push them even further out to the fringe.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.