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In the beginning, contracts which affected society-at-large were implicit. They can be tracked all the way back to Socrates, but they weren’t as specific as now. It used to be that civilized society existed because of an implicitly agreed-upon set of standards. Those standards weren’t directly expressed, but they provided a wide parameter of the moral and political rules of behavior. It worked as long as other people agreed to abide by it.

Fast forward hundreds of years and we see how the U.S. Constitution became an EXPLICIT and SPECIFIC part of America’s social contract. But just like in the time of Socrates, it only works as long as people agree to abide by it.

In the recent past of 1994, Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey’s “Contract with America” emerged as a purely political strategy. The “contract” pushed for reducing the size of government, lowering taxes, emphasizing entrepreneurship, establishing tort reform, and bringing about welfare reform. Most of these proposals were touted by Ronald Reagan in his inaugural speech. The CWA measures resulted in several important pieces of legislation, none probably more important than welfare reform, which was signed into law by President Clinton. The GOP gained fifty-four House seats and nine Senate seats in the elections, so the contract was seen as a success by party leaders. 

Did they actually reform the size and scope of the Federal Government? No, as a matter of fact, research shows that the combined budgets of the 95 major programs that CWA promised to eliminate increased by 13%. 

Thirty years later, the Texas GOP is pushing the boundaries of right wing politics even further. Any candidate for Texas House Speaker will be required to solicit support from only Republicans and to strip Democrats from any committee chair positions. It would eliminate local property taxes as a means for the operations and maintenance of public schools and eliminate all green energy subsidies, which are now keeping our power grid going. 

This “contract”, along with the 50 page platform from their convention last month is hair-raising. It is a blatant attempt to undermine democratic principles, disenfranchise communities of color and hold on to power. As Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty described it: The Texas GOP is “going off the deep end”. As Joe Biden said, “This is not your father’s Republican Party.”

Read the Contract with Texas in its entirety here

In addition to this contract, the GOP platform also calls for candidates running for statewide office to win more than half of the state’s 254 counties, which would effectively shut out Democrats forever because their voters are concentrated in a few urban areas. It would require the Bible to be taught in public school (TEA has already spent millions in garnering the rights with a Boston consulting company). It would reverse name changes to military bases honoring Confederate “heroes,” and charge doctors who perform abortions with homicide. This is a tall order for a party whose state donor base is drying up. Donations are dominated (3 out of 5) by out-of-state supporters.

The Texas GOP claims the “contract” and the platform will “fix” things once and for all, but since 1995, they merely continue to break things, instead of repairing them. The strange thing is that barely any Texans know the details about this. I was shocked by chatting with voters in various forums. Not a single poster knew what the Contract with Texas or the party’s recent extreme platform actually contained. Low information voters are going to destroy us all.

It’s clear that Republicans are attempting to maintain power in Texas, which is caught in the midst of rapidly changing demographics. Texas’ population has grown 40% this century, and 91% of the new Texans are people of color. It means the state has nearly equal numbers of Latino and White residents (39.3% and 39.8%, respectively), according to the 2020 census.

The Texas GOP are fully aware that their “prime time” is ending, but no one is saying anything. No amount of overt authoritarian rules will prevent this sea change.  

The way I see it, we’re either in the throes of the end of the Texas GOP or the end of Texas as it was envisioned by our state’s founders. But it’s all under your control. You direct how this horror movie ends. It’s up to you. It seems repetitive, trite, and tiring to tell you to merely vote, but that’s what we have. That’s the only thing we have standing between us and what the punitive and controlling Texas GOP proposes.

Carol Morgan
Carol Morgan
The sleepy, dusty town of Lubbock, Texas, in the late fifties, was the perfect incubator for a shy, imaginative child who was a voracious reader with a dream of becoming a writer. Carol Morgan spent almost 30 years as a teacher and counselor, but even in her stint as an educator she continued to write. She was the executive producer of Career Connection, an education program on LISD-TV. In 2001, Carol began a second career as a career counselor, writer and speaker. Her goal was to encourage others to use their gifts and talents to make changes in their lives and the world. That business endured for 20 years until closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was the host of a local radio talk show, Career 411, offering on-air advice and featuring unique careers. As a freelance writer, she’s contributed articles to various publications about Texas politics and life. Carol was the Democratic candidate for the Texas House of Representatives in 2010, and has never recovered from her addiction to Texas politics. She is the author of two books, garnering honors and awards for her writings.


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