How Republicans Can Win Harris County

Harris County Republicans took a beating in last November’s election. Democrats won all four major county offices and swept the two dozen judgeships up for election. Some of claimed that Republican woes in Harris County were a down ballot consequence of Donald Trump leading the ticket. While there may be some truth to this, the problems in the Republican Party go far deeper than a single individual.

The website for the Harris County Republican Party states:

The name “Republican” was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and conveying a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But when the party had an opportunity to explicitly defend these rights when City Council passed the Houston Equal Rights Amendment (HERO), then-chairman of the county party, Jared Woodfill, argued:

Her [Mayor Annise Parker] most recent efforts include a proposed ordinance that provides an opportunity for sexual predators to have access to our families.  The Mayor’s proposed ordinance, among other things, requires Houston businesses to make all women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms available to all who are dressed in female attire, without regard to biological sex.

Rather than defend individual rights, including property rights, the party resorted to fallacious claims about sexual predators. The tactic worked and HERO was repealed in a city-wide referendum, but long-term success will not be achieved by abandoning rational principles.

Republicans have resorted to the same collectivist appeals as Democrats, pitting groups against one another (such as families versus sexual deviates).

If Republicans truly support the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then why don’t they explicitly defend those rights? If they truly believe that individuals have a right to live their lives as they choose, then why isn’t that their message?

These are, of course, rhetorical questions. Despite their platitudes, Republicans don’t support individual rights completely and consistently. If they did, they would not have campaigned against HERO on such superficial grounds. They would have argued that HERO actually violates rights, rather than protect them.

If Republicans want to win Harris County, then they should stop trying to appeal to groups. They should appeal to individuals and defend the moral right of individuals to live their lives as they choose, so long as they respect the rights of others to do the same. But before Republicans can defend individual rights, they must first discover them.

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