For conservatives throughout the country, Election Day was more than just a disappointment; it was a wakeup call for the Republican Party to determine why it failed to convince the electorate that conservative solutions are what this country needs. The Party’s poor performance across the nation can be partly attributed to problems within the organization.
Now, more than ever before, candidates and elected officials with an "R" behind their name find themselves competing against one another in a fight to be perceived as most conservative. The rhetoric and hyperbole are out of control and only seem to be getting worse. The bottom line is that we can’t let infighting and political posturing compromise what we have achieved in Texas.
While Americans in other states may not be convinced, Texans know that conservative policies achieve the greatest results. In stark contrast to what is taking place at the federal level, the Texas economy is booming, in large part due to the conservative policies championed by leaders like Texas Speaker Joe Straus.
Despite the resounding success Texas has experienced as a result of our conservative leadership, some can’t help but engage in infighting and posturing for their own political gain. Sadly, in politics, the truth is always the first casualty. This reality is something that Speaker Straus has experienced firsthand.
Truthfully, the State of Texas is more conservative than ever before. There is no better example of this fact than the 82nd legislative session, which resulted in some of the most conservative initiatives ever achieved in the state's history. Social and fiscal conservatives alike cannot dispute the successes achieved for both of their causes.
Under Straus’ leadership, the Texas House cut the biennial budget by $15 billion — the largest cut since World War II — which set the budgeting template for the nation and demonstrated to other states how to govern within their existing revenue streams. Compared with his predecessor, who presided over budget increases averaging 14 percent, Straus has averaged a 2.9-percent decrease in spending during his tenure as speaker.
In addition to restoring fiscal sanity to the state, the 82nd Legislature passed historic tort reform in the form of the "loser pays" legislation, strong eminent domain reform, the pro-life sonogram bill and voter ID legislation. Straus enabled all of these conservative policies through his leadership in the Texas House.
He also demonstrated his conservative nature by creating a select committee on state sovereignty, designed to protect Texas from federal mandates and job-killing directives from federal agencies like the EPA.
Due, in part, to Straus' help in growing the Republican majority from 76 to 102, the Texas House is more conservative than ever. He worked tirelessly during this last election cycle to preserve the conservative presence in the House and was able to help defend 95 Republican seats in the 150-member body.
Unfortunately, these facts are all too often ignored or distorted. Instead of coming together to continue to work to achieve our collective conservative goals, petty infighting remains rampant, as some House Republicans have challenged the speaker’s record, claiming they can do better. The last thing the Texas House needs is a trial lawyer or a quasi-conservative as our leader.
As Speaker Straus continues to face challenges from special-interest groups, I urge you to look at the conservative successes achieved during the 82nd legislative session and ask yourself, why change your quarterback when you're winning the game?
Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, represents District 122 in the Texas Legislature.