Conservative Republican state Senator Bob Deuell said something that raised eyebrows on the floor of the Texas Senate yesterday. After losing Republican votes for a measure he supports to provide for a needle exchange program for drug addicts, thus saving lives, his amendment was stripped from the bill. His reaction:
I think it’s time, especially for you Republicans, that if we’re to remain a viable party, we need to start looking at medical facts and dealing with reality and not dealing with black helicopters and other myths that are out there by the right wing extremists.
Deuell’s frustration is not without merit on many issues. In this case, for the sake of those extremists, people will die. And oh yeah, did I mention that Senator Deuell is also a medical doctor – the only one in the Senate?
It also works in public education: when Republicans support extremists for positions of authority who pretend that creationism has any basis whatsoever in science, children don’t get well-educated.
It also works in public health: when Republicans fail to support CHIP expansion, or eliminating waiting lists for Texans with disabilities, or expanding Medicaid eligibility, all for the sake of fighting “big government” on behalf of extremists, people suffer, people get sick, and people die.
I could go on and on, on policy position after policy position, in almost the entirety of government functions.
Senator Deuell’s frustration yesterday provides a rare glimpse into Republican fears that Texans are noticing what is being done, and not done, in their names. But it’s not for average ordinary Texas families that these public policy priorities are pursued, but rather for a couple hundred thousand faithful Republican primary voters’ whims.
We’re about to witness this partisan suicide attempt on a National level, with President Obama’s nomination of a Hispanic woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. Everybody in politics knows that conservatives would have strongly opposed whoever Obama picked – it’s their job. But since Obama picked a woman and a Hispanic, Republican U.S. Senators, in their never-ending efforts to suck up to the ever-shrinking Republican ultra-conservative base, are about to alienate women and Hispanics from coast-to-coast for the next few months.
The good news for everybody else: if Republicans keep representing only a few elite extremists, at the expense of the rest of us, their base will shrink so small that they won’t even be able to fill up that black helicopter with their supporters.
Senator Deuell’s Republican colleagues didn’t listen to him yesterday. Someday, they’ll wish they had.