As part of its mission to “educate and motivate citizen engagement in all levels of government,” the True Texas Project in Travis County held a public discussion on Monday between Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi and Democrat lobbyist and consultant Mark Littlefield. 

The discussion was set for the two to share their views on a variety of issues and the state of America, both personally and as representatives of their respective parties. 

It’s important to understand where the other ‘side’ is coming from—even if we don’t agree on policy—in order to reduce division and see each other as fellow humans, albeit with differing views,” True Texas Project – Travis County Co-Director Lisa Williams told Texas Scorecard.

For the conservative organization, the exercise also had a practical effect.

“As a tactical matter, we can also see any fallacies that the other ‘side’ relies on, such as the belief that the Second Amendment provides for a well-regulated militia but not individual self-defense. This idea is not supported by the founding documents.”

The forum began with a question posed to both about the differences between the two parties in America. 

Littlefield began by saying that America needs to stop focusing on party lines and would be more successful if we all worked together to make great strides. 

Rinaldi had a different outlook on the contrast between the two parties, saying that the woke Democrat Party has shifted cultural values that have now made the parties more at odds with one another. Rinaldi added that the Democrat Party has turned away from the working class and is now appealing to more upper-class individuals. 

“We’re seeing now the Democratic Party turn away from the working class, and not only their reality as they see it—those issues like what they’re teaching children or what they’re adopting on gender issues—but also on environmental issues, as well.” Rinaldi said. “Now we’re seeing a cultural divide on climate change or global warming, on gender ideology, on pornography in schools, on cultural issues that define our country and whether or not we still love the principles that our country was founded upon.” 

The next topics were immigration and the abortion debate that has captivated America since the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

“There’s not much we can all agree on, on this issue. But I think we all can agree on sex education and birth control; those work, those reduce the need for abortions. I wish we could come together on more of these issues and reduce that number from 630,000. You ask me what’s the moderate position; I think that instead of asking two white men, I’d much rather ask a woman,” Littlefield said. 

Rinaldi made a different point, saying the Democrats and Republicans used to agree on protecting the sanctity of life, but in recent years, the Democrats have begun to sing a different tune. 

“The woman isn’t the only person in that decision; there’s another person involved, and that’s the unborn child.” Rinaldi said the Democrat Party and Republican Party traditionally agreed on one thing: that a life should be protected. “Now that’s changed in recent years,” said Rinaldi. “The position advocated by the vast majority of Democratic senators [and] Democratic congressman is abortion up to the point of birth.”

The two continued their conversation on the topic of inflation and what they feel is their party’s stance on the burden placed on Americans. 

In his beginning comments, Littlefield said that Democrats do not want to tax everybody, but the biggest difference between the two parties is where they want to raise or cut taxes. 

Rinaldi responded by saying the root of all inflation is printing money and America has printed about 40 percent of the dollars that have been in circulation since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Rinaldi added, “We have another issue that’s causing this inflation, which is supply chain issues, which is caused by shutting down the world’s largest economy.” 

The two continued to exchange their opinions about the parties’ dealings with election integrity, affirmative action, and Second Amendment rights. 

While the discussion was heated at times, both were able to shake hands and walk away from the discussion with a better understanding of each other.

Emily Wilkerson

Emily is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, studying journalism with a minor in political science. She enjoys investigative journalism and making sure that every side of a story is being told.