Last Saturday, the Republican Party held its Senate District 10 Convention in Arlington. I attended the precinct convention earlier this month and there I was selected to be a delegate to the district convention.
I heard about these conventions shortly before they took place and I went to learn more about how the process worked and to contribute to the party’s success. I couldn’t have predicted what would happen on Saturday.
Soon after arriving at the convention that morning, I waited in a classroom for an interview to be a delegate to the state convention. I was in a French classroom, so the topic of foreign language education came up with some others I was sitting with.
One of them remarked that the school should start teaching Mandarin Chinese because of her belief that China would control the United States due to the U.S. debt to China; although in reality only eight percent of our nation’s debt is owned by China.
What happened next in the classroom made that remark pale in comparison. A woman walked in the classroom promoting the Texas Ballot Challenge. According to its website, the initiative aims to prevent incumbent President Barack Obama from being on the ballot because of speculation that he is not a natural born citizen and eligible to run for president.
She claimed that Obama’s certificate of live birth and the more recently released long-form birth certificate were invalid and only released as part of an ad campaign rather than a genuine effort at proving his legitimacy. Others in the room seemed to share her sentiments, echoing the so-called ‘birther’ movement that questions Obama’s U.S. citizenship.
Clearly, Obama was born in the United States as proven by his birth certificate. This is a lunatic fringe that is either desperate to get Obama out of office or simply disguised racism.
Later, during the convention, the delegates discussed changes they wanted to make to the platform. One plank of it was that all employers must use E-Verify to ensure the legal immigration status of their employees. One delegate suggested adding, “including presidential and vice-presidential candidates” to the sentence. The audience laughed at the proposition, and I thought it was a joke.
When it was voted on using a standing vote after short deliberation, it passed and the words were added to the end of the sentence, further signifying the delegates’ complacency with the ‘birther’ movement.
The vote made it apparent that many delegates at the convention weren’t concerned about their reputation, but their own personal objectives of trying to defeat Obama using fringe conspiracy methods rather than running a legitimate campaign and allowing voters to decide the best candidate.
I was at the convention for over 15 hours that day with only a lunch break in between, and I ended up being an alternate to the state convention. It was a long day and I had little to show for it as far as making changes to the platform or earning the state delegate spot I was hoping for.
Nonetheless, the convention opened my eyes to the true face of the Republican Party. I had known that the most politically active people are often the most extreme, but I couldn’t have predicted the degree of disguised bigotry that was on display.
The Republican Party is visibly out of touch with the general public, particularly minorities, homosexuals and younger people who despise the old-fashioned conservatism of debt paranoia, anti-gay rights statutes and targeting Obama on the birth certificate issue.
As a result, the Democratic Party could become the dominant party once again as it was in the U.S. House of Representatives in most of the late 20th century. As our generation takes a much different view on these issues than the delegates at the conference I attended, I find it imperative for the Republican Party to change its ways to ensure our generation continues to have meaningful choices in the ballot box in the future. If not, the two-party system that has existed for over two centuries may be gone.
Jack Enright is a junior political science and economics double major from Tomball.