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Texas GOP's new platform says Biden didn't really win. It also calls for secession

The Republican Party of Texas refuses to recognize the legitimacy of President Biden's election win. Just before Biden's inauguration in 2021, armed groups held a rally in front of the Texas State Capitol in Austin.
Matthew Busch
AFP via Getty Images
The Republican Party of Texas refuses to recognize the legitimacy of President Biden's election win. Just before Biden's inauguration in 2021, armed groups held a rally in front of the Texas State Capitol in Austin.

President Biden is the "acting" president because he didn't win legally; Texans should vote on seceding; the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be repealed; any gun control is a rights violation: this is the world as seen by the Republican Party of Texas, according to its newly adopted party platform.

"We can't compromise with Democrats who have a different and incompatible vision for our future," Matt Rinaldi, the state GOP chairman, said, according to The Texas Newsroom. "We need to be a bold and unapologetic conservative party, ready to go on offense and win the fight for our country."

The Republicans' 2022 platform is outlined in a 40-page document that addresses state issues but also much broader priorities — such as calling for the U.S. to leave the United Nations. Delegates approved it over the weekend, at the party's convention in Houston.

Texas GOP holds on to 'the big lie'

By insisting that Biden didn't actually defeat former President Trump in 2020, Texas Republicans are prolonging the lies and baseless claims about election fraud that fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"We believe that the 2020 election violated Article 1 and 2 of the US Constitution," the Texas Republicans said in their new platform. They accuse several secretaries of state of illegal actions, alleging that "substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas" distorted the results in Biden's favor.

"We reject the certified results of the 2020 presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States," the GOP platform stated.

The pro-Trump stance sets the tone for November's midterm election date. It also suggests the Texas GOP will use Trump's claims to stoke voter turnout: The section on election fraud concludes by urging every Republican to vote in order to "overwhelm any possible fraud."

Convention-goers are shown '2,000 Mules'

Organizers screened the film 2,000 Mules at least three times, according to the convention's program.

The film was recently discussed during a Jan. 6 committee hearing, when former Attorney General Bill Barr said the film's central premise, that electronic location data proved people were used as "mules" to stuff ballot boxes, was "just indefensible."

2,000 Mules was directed by Dinesh D'Souza, who, in 2014, admitted to making illegal campaign contributions in other people's names — a form of election law fraud, in other words. The controversial activist was pardoned by Trump in 2018. The former president hosted a showing of the film in Florida last month.

GOP calls on Texas to hold a referendum on seceding

Saying the U.S. government has impaired Texas' right of self-government, the platform calls for rejecting any legislation that conflicts with the state's rights — and it suggests leaving the union might be the answer.

"Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto," the platform stated.

Deeper in the document, the GOP delegates urge state lawmakers to put a referendum on the agenda for the 2023 election, "for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation."

In Texas, secession is a perennial idea that tends to bloom when a Democrat holds the Oval Office. After former President Obama won his first term, for instance, the state's Gov. Rick Perry hinted that Texans might consider exiting the union.

How close is the party platform to the party faithful?

It remains an open question as to how closely the priorities outlined in the 2022 platform reflect the views of regular Republicans in Texas.

One sign of a potential divide is in the reception given to the state's politicians in Congress.

The crowd loudly booed Sen. John Cornyn, who's leading the Republican side in the hunt for areas of bipartisan agreement on guns. Another Texas Republican, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, was confronted by far-right activists who mocked him by calling him "eye-patch McCain" and a "traitor," according to Mediate.

As Matthew Watkins, the managing editor for news and politics at the Texas Tribune, said via Twitter, feelings in the convention hall don't necessarily equate to voter sentiments.

"John Cornyn, booed in the hall, received 76% of the vote in his last primary race," Watkins said. "Greg Abbott, who didn't give a speech, received 67%. Ken Paxton, who got a standing ovation, received 43% in March."

The hot topics include elections and guns

Not every plank in the platform came with a long explanation. For instance, the section on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — which the Justice Department calls "the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted" by Congress — merely states that the Texas GOP supports "equal suffrage for all United States citizens of voting age."

The platform then calls for the 1965 law and its updated forms to "be repealed and not reauthorized." The Voting Rights Act has returned as a key point of contention in the past decade, as parties argue over election fairness — particularly in areas with histories of discriminating against or suppressing voters of color.

The GOP was more effusive about guns, stating, "all gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment and our God given rights."

Another section declared there shall be no gun-free zones in Texas, a state that recently absorbed one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history. The party platform also spoke out against "red flag" laws and any effort to bar people younger than 21 from buying a gun.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.