With the election of State Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R–Angleton) to the Texas House speakership apparently secured, the Republican majority should now be able to pass the kind of tangible legislative results that will excite voters in 2020 against a projected Democrat onslaught.

According to reports, the House Republican Caucus adhered to the Republican Party Platform and respected Republican primary voters’ call for the Texas House speaker to be first selected within the GOP caucus. The caucus vote on December 1 should mark the beginning of a new era in Texas.

For almost 10 years, former House Speaker Joe Straus and his consultant — lobbyist Gordon Johnson — colluded with Democrats to bottle up commonsense reforms favored by Texas voters, such as government spending limits and property tax relief. This led, in part, to Republican voters cooling to the Republican brand. It didn’t matter that the Republican-dominated Senate passed the reforms embodied in the party’s platform, that two governors in a row championed those reforms, or that the reforms were met with resounding approval in two decades’ worth of primary ballot questions answered by millions of voters. 

Those reforms were never enacted because of the Straus-Johnson coalition of obstruction.

Voters saw nonstop campaigning by Republican officials on property tax relief, but they did not see those promises kept. Let’s face it, “Send me back, and I will keep trying” does not inspire voter enthusiasm when their property tax bills keep rising each year.

The obstructionism of the Straus-Johnson coalition understandably inspired a substantial number of primary-election challenges. When promises aren’t kept and no one takes responsibility, it is natural for voters to demand change.

A principal reason for Democrat electoral gains in the most recent cycle is the failure of Republicans to deliver on campaign promises. The Straus-Johnson obstructionism meant Republicans could not show the tangible, real-world benefits of electing them over the Democrats.

Fortunately, House Republicans have turned a corner. They promised voters they would select a speaker without Democrat interference. Rather than cobble together a new Straus-like coalition of Democrats and a handful of Republicans, Bonnen sought the Republican nomination first. Come January 8, 2019 — when members are expected to vote to install Bonnen as speaker — this should mean that the House will be run by the elected representatives rather than lobbyists like Johnson.

There are now no known obstacles for Republicans to fulfill the promises on which they have so long campaigned.

Let’s be clear: no speaker of the Texas House can guarantee results. What a speaker can guarantee, by the very nature of the job, is that legislation gets to the floor for a fair debate and vote. When that occurs, every legislator can explain their votes to their constituents. The line of accountability will be very clear.

The Republican-dominated House should have no problem ensuring record floor votes on the priorities included in the Republican Party of Texas platform. They should finally be able to enact the kind of substantive reforms favored by Texans and championed by Republicans.

Great strides can be accomplished by enacting the detailed plan prepared by the Texas Public Policy Foundation to cut property taxes in half over the next decade.

That includes abolishing the “Robin Hood” maintenance and operation property tax while prioritizing classroom spending. This can be accomplished by limiting the growth of government over the course of the next decade and using excess tax revenues to reduce every Texans’ property tax burden by almost 50 percent.

Couple that with property tax reforms that empower voters, like those passed by the Senate last year, and Texas voters would see and feel immediate, tangible relief heading into 2020.

It should also mean the other GOP priorities get to the House floor for a vote. For example, the Texas House could put an end to tax-funded lobbying, where government entities use tax dollars to work against the interest of taxpayers. The same goes for gun rights, the protection of life, and ending tax-subsidies for labor unions, among other priorities championed by the state’s conservative grassroots through the Republican platform.

The 2018 campaign of Beto O’Rourke was propelled by out-of-state liberal donors wanting to chop the legs out from under the Lone Star State. They see Texas outproducing the rest of the nation with a diverse economy growing relatively free of the policies that decimated California, New York, and other “blue” states.

The wave of job producers and wealth makers fleeing failed Democrat-run states to the relative safety of Texas is an indictment of their leftist policies. Rather than readjust their governing model, Democrats want to undermine Texas.

Some have described the 2018 election as a political invasion. It wasn’t. It was the advance party. Those out-of-state Democrats would have loved to see Beto elected, but their real goal was to probe Texas for a far more important prize in the 2020 elections. No, no, not the presidential race.

No, their target—the big prize—is to take control of the legislature ahead of the 2021 redistricting cycle. If Democrats can redraw congressional and legislative boundaries, they can Californize the Lone Star State and thus the nation. By 2029, we might as well paint an anemic bear slouching across our flag.

The time to push back against the invasion is now. Republicans are poised to do so.

In the mid-1970s, when the GOP was in the midst of a crisis of governance, Ronald Reagan said the party had a choice: “Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?” 

That question, and the clear answer, must be the rally-cry of Republicans if they intend to attract voters in 2020. The path forward for liberty is a vibrant Republican Party whose actions match its promises.

The true outcome of leftist polices can be observed in places like Detroit; failed schools, bankrupt programs, and unaffordable taxes is their stock in trade. And their answer to their failed polices is always the same: “More government.” The problem is always the solution. If Texas succumbs to that deception, where then will people flee?

Protecting Texas from the Democrats in 2020 begins with the actions of the House Republicans in 2019. Republican lawmakers must set aside their petty differences and rally behind the slate of proven, commonsense reforms enshrined in their party’s platform to produce the kind of enthusiasm and distinction that will empower Texans to lead the way forward to liberty and prosperity. Or else we will be pulled into the failed, inhumane policies of the Marxist left. 

Bold actions will allow the GOP to produce the bold results Texans demand and deserve.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."