The Radicals Are Back
Based upon our history, the Mach Republican primary will immediately determine the direction of our state. In 1869, the Texas Republican Party split between the self-described Radical wing and the Conservatives. The Radicals were intent on pre-empting local officials with a centralized, controlling state government. The Conservatives, led by local business and professional leaders, favored maintaining local decision-making.
The Radicals prevailed in a highly irregular election with low voter participation and proceeded to replace local officials with state appointees, force higher property taxes by under-funding public education and impose state rules over local policies. The Radicals drove the state into bankruptcy in four years. In 1873, the state returned to conservative leadership and began to recover and prosper.
The Radicals have returned, and the ranks of the Republican Party are divided again. No longer willing to subscribe to their proper title, the Radicals now refer to themselves as Ultra-Conservatives; Tea-Party Conservatives, or Freedom Caucus. However, their positions reflect the same Radical philosophy. They favor state control over local decision-making. They force higher local property taxes by under-funding public education. State support for public education has diminished from 50 percent to 38 percent in eight years. They also force higher property taxes on counties and cities through unfunded mandates, such as indigent health care, indigent criminal defense, mental health care, and overweight truck traffic. They demand strict adherence to their Radical positions and attack any Republican Speaker of the House. The true Conservatives continue to support a sound, business economy; sufficient state-funding for public education; and local decision-making.
Will the Radicals overwhelm the Conservatives and dominate Texas again? Will enough Texas voters become aware and vote for common-sense Conservatives to avoid this repeat of history? The March Republican primary will write the next chapter.
An attorney with a master’s degree in Government and History, Jim Allison has served as General Counsel of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas for 35 years.