Publisher’s note: Dean Obeidallah is a former attorney and host of SiriusXM’s daily radio show “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this comment are his own. See more opinions on CNNEE.
(CNN) — A disturbing video of the Texas Republican Convention this weekend shows convention attendees mocking Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL veteran who lost his right eye to a bomb in Afghanistan, with the term “McCain eye patch” (something like ‘One-eyed McCain).
Tucker Carlson of Fox News coined the mocking nickname after the Texas legislator dared to express support for beleaguered Ukraine after Russia’s barbaric attack.
But apparently even more egregious in the eyes of some attendees is that Crenshaw rejected the claims. from former President Donald Trump that the 2020 election was stolen. In a video on the Internet a man in a red cap reading “Make America Great Again” can be seen yelling, “Dan Crenshaw is a traitor!” and “He has to be hanged for treason!”.
As despicable as the behavior toward Crenshaw was, even more alarming were the actions taken by the Texas Republican Party and the more than 5,000 convention delegates.
The meeting rejected the result of a democratic election, supported intolerance towards the LGBTQ community and imposed on other far-right religious beliefs seeking to enshrine them in law. And that wasn’t even the half of it.
In fact, the convention showed us one thing: Republicans in Texas no longer hide their extremism. Instead, they are openly embracing it.
The extremism of the Republican Party in Texas
Even before the opening hammer, they gave us a glimpse of the party’s extremism in the state by Ban Log Cabin Republicans set up a booth at the convention.
Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi cast the deciding vote on the measure to ban the group that has championed LGBTQ Republicans for decades. “I think it’s inappropriate, given the state of our nation right now, for us to play sexual identity politics,” Rinaldi said. to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Once formally launched, the convention took a series of shocking and un-American actions. First, the delegates approved a measure declaring that President Joe Biden was “not legitimately elected.” In short, the Texas Republican Party, like Trump himself, is accepting a lie because they are unhappy with the election results. Put more bluntly, the Texas Republican Party voted to reject American democracy.
Republican delegates they also booed John Cornyn, the top US senator from Texas, at Friday’s convention because of the Republican lawmaker’s role in leading negotiations to reach a Senate deal on a bill to stop gun violence. Those legislative efforts follow last month’s horrific shooting that claimed the lives of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
The platform approved at the convention demanded to repeal or annul existing firearms lawsas the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prevents criminals and other dangerous people from legally buying a gun. Apparently, the Texas Republican Party believes that even dangerous people should have a constitutionally protected right to buy a gun.
The Texas Republican Party platform also welcomed the rise of anti-abortion rhetoric in public schools. For example, the platform states that “Texas students should learn about the humanity of the unborn child, including… that life begins at fertilization.” It even seeks to force students to watch “a live ultrasound” and high school students to read an anti-abortion pamphlet that critics say “includes claims without scientific backing and shames women seeking abortion services,” according to The Texas Tribune.
It sounds like the curriculum you might find in a theocratic government like the Taliban, not one in the United States funded by taxpayer dollars. But the Republican Party in large sections of this country no longer hesitates to support laws to enforce their religious beliefs, as we see with measures that some Republicans advocate would ban abortion outright. The Republican convention document also urges officials to “not infringe on the rights of students and staff in Texas schools to pray and engage in religious speech“.
Measures against the LGBTIQ+ community at the Republican convention
The Texas Republican Party platform also goes to great lengths to demonize the transgender community. It describes transgender people as suffering from “a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition.” And he sees sex reassignment surgery as a form of medical malpractice.
The platform also targets gay Americans with the statement that homosexuality is “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” Instructively, the platform of the Republican Party of Texas did not include such language in 2018 and 2020.
This platform gives us a glimpse of the Republican base’s views on key issues that will in turn pressure GOP elected officials in Texas—and possibly beyond the state—to adopt similarly extreme positions or risk being challenged in the primaries by an even more extreme Republican.
What caused this move to the extreme right? Brandon Rottinghaus, a political scientist at the University of Houston, told The Texas Tribune of the state GOP’s extreme new platform: “Donald Trump radicalized the party and accelerated the demands of the base.” He added alarmingly: “There’s just no limit now on what the base could ask for.”
I agree in part. I don’t think Trump radicalized the base, but he just gave people permission to be who they always wanted to be.
But I agree with Rottinghaus that there is now no limit to what the Republican base could seek, whether it be rejecting election results it disagrees with or enacting more laws based on extreme religious beliefs. And that should deeply alarm any American who wants to live in a democratic republic.