Texas parties map out divergent views

DALLAS – The Texas ballot was legally set when the state’s Democrats completed their convention in Houston June 19. The Democrats in Houston and the Republicans in San Antonio two weeks earlier created greatly contrasting platforms.

The GOP, the party that spawned the Bush-Cheney regime, committed itself to a written program so brazenly anti-worker and anti-people that virtually all their state candidates jumped to distance themselves from it. It includes such things as repealing the state’s minimum wage and prevailing wage laws, embedding the anti-union “Right to Work” law in the state constitution, repealing “hate crimes” legislation, extending the use of the death penalty, privatizing Social Security, encouraging school vouchers to privatize education, criminalizing homosexuality, and banning all abortions without exception, even if it costs the woman’s life.

Texas Democratic Party leader Charles Soechting was widely quoted when he laughingly called the Texas Republican platform “the longest suicide note in history.”

The Democratic platform called for keeping Social Security and opposing privatization, fighting all forms of discrimination, repealing parts of the Patriot Act, and increasing the minimum wage. Their convention theme was “Fighting for Democracy” in a state where democracy was slashed by a GOP-led redistricting fight and very questionable campaign financing.

Near the end of the convention, presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich led the Democrats in a spirited chant of “End this war!” Kucinich’s supporters carried out an admirable floor-petitioning campaign to overcome the Resolutions Committee and get their peace resolution before the committee. It called for a United States Department of Peace, and the convention passed it by a big majority.

Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) was the most popular speaker at the Democratic convention, while Texas Congressman Tom DeLay was the darling of the Republicans. Democrats have high hopes that legal proceedings against DeLay’s electoral methods may level the playing field in Texas before November.

Texas is a state with near-impossible petitioning requirements for ballot status for third parties, and the short petitioning period is over when the major parties hold their conventions. The Libertarians think the petitions they filed will be found sufficient, but Ralph Nader’s supporters cling only to the hope that they will overturn Texas rules in court.

The author can be reached at flittle7@yahoo.com.