With President Trump taking up most of the space in the news cycle, it is hard to get a reading on what is happening at ground level in Texas. The national press would have you believe that Texas is turning blue. And with all the vagina costumes and pussy hats on parade, some of you might be tempted to believe that. Don’t.
Yet another elected Democrat in Texas decided that he could no longer be a part of a party that caters to those on the fringe of every issue, be it abortion, homosexuality, freedom of religion, illegal immigration or national security. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick, an old fashioned conservative Democrat, finally came to his senses. Here is his letter outlining his reasons for switching parties (highlights added):
“I originally wrote this letter in October, but at the request of a friend, delayed sending it for 90 days. It is now shorter than it was originally.
I grew up in Port Arthur with a grandfather, uncle, father, brother and sister who were union members and then I went to law school. My earlier experiences led me to believe, as I still do, that collective bargaining and a fair civil justice system are good things.
Those experiences also led me to become a member of the democratic party because I believed that a large part of the genius that is America is rooted in the strength of its middle class and the opportunity for individuals of every stripe to improve their lot in life.
Over the last few years, however, I have become increasingly more uncomfortable with my party’s stance on a number of issues such that I can no longer count myself among its membership. I do not believe that the most significant issue facing the U.S. is climate change.
And while I do view ISIS and like groups as a clear and present danger, I also believe it is an issue that can be addressed with sufficient resolve and less political correctness from our national leadership. However, it appears that our foreign policy for the last several years has been to deny that evil exists anywhere in the world other than in the bosom of a republican.
But the thing that scares me more than anything else is the fact that we have doubled our national debt in the last 8 years to almost 20 trillion dollars and we are facing unfunded liabilities (amounts for which the federal government has obligated itself but which are not yet due) of something more than 127 trillion dollars.
That’s 1.1 million dollars of debt for every American taxpayer. And that scares the heck out of me. How can we “secure the blessings of liberty to…our posterity” if we refuse to deal with an issue of such manifest significance? I have lost all faith that the membership of my party will do anything meaningful to deal with this most worrisome issue.
Nor do I believe, as the leaders of my former party argued during this last election, that a confiscatory tax system can solve this crisis. According to my research the top 10% of wage earners in the U.S. pay about 70% of the income taxes. I think that’s a fair share. And with U.S. corporate tax rates amongst the highest in the industrialized world, how can we raise those taxes without running even more jobs, and liquidity, overseas?
I would agree that income inequality exists, but I would think the better way to begin to address the issue is to release individuals from lifetime and intergenerational entitlement programs that subjugate them to the will of the state and allow them to use the talents for which they are uniquely gifted by their Creator.
Since the passage of the Great Society legislation 50+ years ago we have experienced more poverty, not less. As a remedial measure it seems to me to be a failure that has only had the effect of incentivizing single parent households. I’m all for helping people who are down on their luck for a few years, but I want that help to equip them to travel down a path to productivity and self-reliance. I do not believe in a cradle to grave system of public entitlements. It is economically, and in my mind morally, unsustainable.
I am also one of those individuals that cling to my guns and religion. I happen to believe that the 2nd Amendment is every bit as important as all of the other guarantees in the Bill of Rights and I also believe that America was founded as a Christian nation. And while I do not wish to force others to accept my personal religious views, I also do not desire to be forced to set my personal beliefs aside every time I enter the public square.
During the last eight years we have seen a regulatory environment that has, with little or no scientific basis, killed many jobs in our local area (Keystone pipeline). We have also seen bureaucratically delayed multi-billion dollar projects that could have created thousands of high paying positions in our community. And I have been extremely dismayed to listen to leaders in my former party who have found it expedient to make law enforcement the enemy when, by and large, they are the glue that holds a civilized society together and are deserving of respect.
And while I appreciate the way legal immigration has enriched our culture over the last 200 years, I find it appalling that we have ignored the rule of law with respect to illegal immigration and acted as if our borders and our sovereignty are merely suggestions devoutly to be ignored. To my republican friends I would note that I will continue to vote for a number of our local democratic office holders because I know them to be honorable and hard-working public servants.
To my democratic friends I would say that I do not dislike you and do not think I’m better than you. You and others, regardless of political view, will continue to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness in my courtroom. And while I will not ask you to vote for me during my next (and last) run for county judge if it does damage to your conscience, I will ask that we remain friends. Because with age I’ve come to realize that friendships are more important than any position I might hold.”
To those that may not know or may be confused by the title “County Judge”, please note that this position has nothing to do with the judiciary. This is an executive political position, much like the Governor is the executive leader of Texas and a Mayor is the executive leader of a city. In Harris County, we have a Republican County Judge, Ed Emmett. And in Travis County, they have a Democratic County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture perfectly captures the difference between Republicans and Democrats.
The experienced emergency management and budget executive versus the pussy hat wearing social warrior.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about Jefferson County politics. I thought that perhaps Judge Branick was pulling a fast one and switching parties because Jefferson County was turning Republican and he just wants to keep his job. Hey, you can’t blame me for being skeptical because that is why most politicians switch parties. So I looked at the election results from November for Jefferson County.
Turns out that Democrats won the straight party vote 57-42. Wow. And if you look down ballot, the Democrats won most of the contested races, including County Sheriff. So apparently Judge Branick’s statement on why he is leaving the party is why he is leaving the party and he’ll take his chances in the Republican primary and, if he wins that, the General Election.
For those of you in Harris County, especially Paul Simpson, Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, it looks like there is a lesson to be learned from Judge Branick and the voters of Jefferson County. What is that lesson?
Donald Trump won Jefferson County despite the straight ticket vote being overwhelmingly Democratic.
Congressman Randy Weber won Jefferson County despite the straight ticket vote being overwhelmingly Democratic.
Think about that and then think about Simpson’s current tour telling people that the Trump downdraft was the reason Republicans got crushed in Harris County. And then think about the message that Trump and Weber used in Jefferson County to attract conservative Democrats.
Welcome to the Party, Judge Branick. Get used to the term RINO.