Texas legislator’s conviction shows GOP extremity

Over the weekend, the Republican Party of Texas voted to punish one of its own.

Tony Gonzalez, a two-term congressman from San Antonio, was condemned, among other things, for supporting a modest gun safety law after 19 children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalda.

The day after the party issued its condemnation, Texas Congressman Ronnie Jackson appeared on Fox News (slogan: “Lies to viewers for pleasure and profit”), where he wised up about removing a cancerous tumor from President Biden’s chest.

“Biden is cancer,” the Amarillo Republican said. “He’s the one to remove, not the damage they found.”

There has been no uproar among Texas Republicans to punish Jackson for his callous and insipid remarks, and they are not expected.

Taken together, these events—though unrelated—say a lot about the state of our politics, and especially the nature of the trumped-up Republican Party.

Forget about elementary human decency. Pugnacity, acting out and blind, unshakable loyalty to the party line are important.

For years, Texas’s 23rd congressional district, a giant stretching hundreds of miles from El Paso to San Antonio, has been among the most competitive in the nation.

Gonzalez, a former Navy cryptologist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, won the race in 2020. He had an easier time when he sought re-election in 2022 after the boundaries were changed to give the district a slightly more Republican slant.

But he’s still competitive by Texas standards, and Gonzalez’s performance suggests the legislator is trying to navigate shaky political ground.

His constituency includes Uvalde, and his vote for gun legislation after the May 2022 massacre was hardly a radical response; all the legislation has done is strengthen background checks, help states implement red flag laws, and increase funding for mental health and school safety. (The leading Republican negotiator was senior US Senator John Cornyn of Texas.)

Gonzalez told reporters that if the measure were taken again when the state Republican Party was contemplating action against the congressman, he would double his support.

Another heresy of Gonzalez was the vote for a law codifying same-sex marriage. “It wasn’t a tough vote,” he told the Texas Tribune, noting the diversity of his district. “If the Republican Party is going to grow and prosper, we need to be open to it.”

Republicans called it “Big Tent” and everyone was told welcome inside.

But for the extremists who have taken over the leadership of the Republican Party in Texas and elsewhere, the emphasis is no longer on party building. These are purges and purity tests.

Gonzalez calculated that he won almost 1,400 votes in Congress, “and most of them were for the Republican Party.”

no matter

After Saturday’s overwhelming no-confidence vote, the state’s Republican Party issued a statement accusing the lawmaker of “lack of loyalty” to Republican “principles and priorities” and all but begging a rival from his party to step in and take on Gonzalez in 2024.

It doesn’t matter that someone tougher and more ideological could win the primary but then very likely lose their seat in the House of Representatives in November.

If Donald Trump and his supporters have demonstrated anything over the past few years, it is that they are not very good at winning competitive elections.

Ronnie Jackson served as the White House physician for five years under Presidents Obama and Trump, and it’s frightening – given what he’s shown since – that someone would let him even remotely approach a Democrat.

Biden’s rude remark about cancer is the least of it.

Elected to Congress in 2020, the former naval officer helped push Trump’s lie about the stolen election — Jackson voted against confirming Biden’s victory — suggested that the spread of COVID-19 was part of a Democratic Party conspiracy and offered baseless theories that question mental health. and the mental state of the president. physical health.

None of them hit Jackson at the expense of voters in the county’s overwhelming Trump supporters; He won re-election in November with over 75% support.

In Texas, “you don’t get judged for being too right,” said Cal Gillson, an analyst and professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, or for taking a vocal, confrontational stance in favor of guns and against gay rights. . . . .

How about making fun of the president with skin cancer?

“Our politics has sunk to the point where this is not uncommon,” Jillson said, adding that if such boorish behavior were to attract wider condemnation, “a lot of people would very often be condemned.”

Here’s a better idea. If you want more compromise and bipartisanship in Washington, vote for someone like Gonzalez who demonstrates a willingness to think independently, uphold principles, and cross party lines for the greater good.

And send Jackson out to sea where he belongs.

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