Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Stepford Republicans

"Your prophets have seen for you
False and deceptive visions;
They have not uncovered your iniquity,
To bring back your captives,
But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions."
Lamentations 2:14

Groupthink - Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9). Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.

[Photo (l to r): Rep. James White, Rep. Dan Flynn, Rep. John Otto, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Rep. Jason Villalba, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Jim Keffer, Rep. Lyle Larson, Rep. Byron Cook, Rep. Todd Hunter, Rep. Larry Gonzales, Rep. Drew Springer.]


This website has never understood the psychology at the Texas Capitol.

Texas is a conservative state.  Texas voters routinely reward conservative legislators while punishing spendthrifts.  This has been going on for close to a decade.  Even when spendthrift legislators survive, they usually go down the next cycle (*).  Yet nothing changes.

One would think that if good governance wasn't sufficient cause for a new direction, naked self-interest would be.  Yet, time and again, it doesn't happen.  It's just bizarre.

Which brings us to the current race for Texas House speaker.

The reason there is such discontent with current House leadership is because of its recent output.  Last session, under current leadership, spending went up 26%.  Last session, under current leadership, meaningful school choice died (**).  Last session, under current leadership, none of this website's priorities became law.  Instead, the focus was on creating a slush fund for "water infrastructure development."

And nothing changes.

Since election night, Team Straus has released names of supporters every few days.  While, by itself, that isn't notable, the collectivized nature of it is.  As Sarah Rumpf explains:
Th[ese] statement[s] uses (sic) some nearly identical language: the Representatives declare themselves "conservative Members of the Texas House" who are "proud to support the re-election of Speaker Joe Straus," who they claim "will be decisively re-elected because he encourages members to vote in their districts' best interests and because he is a fair, principled leader."


The fact that individual Republican Representatives from different areas across this very large and diverse state are not just sending out letters endorsing Straus, but are using such oddly identical language in carefully timed releases, suggests that a coordinated effort is taking place. This mimicked language reminds one of the plot in the Academy Award-nominated 1962 movie "The Manchurian Candidate," in which the soldiers are all brainwashed to describe another character by saying, "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." Considering Straus' long-rumored reputation for controlling his chamber with an iron fist behind the scenes, an analogy to the movie may be even more apt.

[Author's Note: Obviously, this website prefers the Stepford Wives comparison]
This author has, in the past, joked about legislators getting brainwashed once they get to the Capitol.  Legislators ignore the will of the voters to advance the spendthrift status quo.  That's why there's a speaker's race in the first place.  Yet Texas House Republicans choose to follow status quo leadership.  This will not continue indefinitely.


(*) Which will likely happen to Byron Cook and Jim Keffer in 2016.

(**) Watered down tripe doesn't count.

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