If this election season tells politicians anything, it should be that conservative voters expect Republicans to govern the way they campaign. From U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia to Texas State Rep. Bennett Ratliff of Dallas, and many races in between, voters have made it clear they don’t want Republicans who get cozy with Democrats on important public policy matters.
In race after race, purple Republican incumbents friendly with the crony establishment were defeated by the grassroots. Conservative voters have become focused on the simple notion that there shouldn’t be much difference between how someone governs and how they campaign.
Let me explain “purple,” a color achieved by mixing red and blue. A fair number of Republican lawmakers in Texas, wanting to look bipartisan, have taken to wearing purple accessories. If it were just their choice of clothing, it’d be one thing. Sadly, those sartorial choices have reflected a substantive shift; trading the conservative campaign rhetoric that got them elected for the praise of establishment liberals who oppose them.
In many ways they are symbolically rejecting their party, or at least promoting the vague notion of “compromise” as if it were a principle. Democrats in the Lone Star State have been quick to jump on the purple-colored bandwagon.
After all, their party is on the decline and has been for a decade. The only way Democrats win is when Republicans reject conservatism, compromise their principles and waste their power.
A study by HardHatters.com found that 51 percent of the bills passed from the House to the governors desk’s 2013 were authored by Democrats.
Mark Jones, chair of the political science department of Rice University, made similar observations in an op-ed titled “Red State, Purple Legislation.”
A purple GOP leadership let Democrats run wild; “the MINORITY party in the House, outnumbered by nearly 2-1, was the MAJORITY when it came to laws passed.” Despite voters sending a near super-majority of Republicans to the House, Democrats were functionally in charge of the legislature
GOP legislators might think wearing purple is cute, but the Democrats are serious about the business of shifting public policy to the left.
Remember, it was Barack Obama back in 2008 who vowed to paint the nation “purple” in a speech to the SEIU. And so, of course, lots of left-leaning Republicans have been more than happy to reach into the Democrats’ paint bucket.
House Speaker Joe Straus’ anti-conservative GOP cheerleaders like Jason Villalba shout “unity” while vilifying common sense conservatives in the Republican Party at every chance. There should be little doubt about whom Villalba wants to be unified with; it isn’t conservatives in his own party.
As tea party activist Ken Emanuelson of Dallas County recently put it, Jason Villalba is the “Texas Democrats’ favorite Republican”. Proving his point, liberal Democrat State Rep. Donna Howard of Austin took to Twitter this week with “kudos” to Villalba for “standing up to” conservative voters. (Whom she referred to as “5.5 percent” – which was the GOP runoff turn-out; in comparison to the 1.5 percent Democrat turn-out.)
Over the past two election cycles, voters have kicked out of office a dozen of those Republicans who campaign as conservatives but govern purple. Two long-serving, establishment-friendly, well-funded Texas senators at the left end of the spectrum lost reelection in GOP primaries.
Not a single conservative incumbent in Texas lost when challenged by the establishment forces of Straus who thrive on “purple” legislators putting liberal policies to play under the GOP brand.
Let me repeat. Not a single conservative incumbent has lost.
For the ambitious politicos, the statewide election results provide a cautionary tale of even greater magnitude. In every single race, conservatives won. The so-called “moderates” and Straus-purple candidates lost, and lost big.
US Congressman Cantor of Virginia is only the latest Democrat-friendly establishment Republican to lose big. He won’t be the last.
A purple tie is just a purple tie, but as Texans we have to be concerned about policy results or the lack thereof. Whatever their sartorial choices, it is well past time for Republican lawmakers to focus on delivering the red-meat (and red state) results the conservative grassroots expect.