This spring voters in Texas will go to the polls to nominate candidates to represent political parties in the general election in November. Many citizens fail to understand the significance of these primary elections. It is not uncommon to hear complaints by people who do not like the choices they have in the general election. Usually, these same people did not participate in the primaries to help choose parties’ nominees. It is the dedicated and committed few voting in a primary who set the choices for the majority in the November elections.
Karl Rove, former political chief for President George W. Bush, noted that the turnout of evangelical Christians in the presidential election of 2000 was down from 19 million in 1996 to 15 million. He speculated that Christians may be “returning to the sidelines.” If this is true, some might argue that the people whom evangelicals have been electing to office have not done what these voters expected. Those voters have concluded that the process does not work or that it is not worth the time and effort to be involved in the political process.
One has only to look at the presidential election of 2000, which was one of the closest in American history, to realize that we can make a dramatic difference in our country by being involved politically. Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying that government is the solution to all our problems. What I am saying is that many of our problems as home school families are the result of government at some level and that this can be changed through our involvement in the process by which we Americans choose our government. Bush was reelected in 2004 because thousands of new voters made the commitment to vote for him. He also became president because some people campaigned for him to gain the nomination on the Republican ticket. In fact, far fewer people were involved in his becoming the Republican nominee than were involved in his being elected in the general election.
Texas home school families are vulnerable every time the legislature meets. Each election season, the teachers’ unions and other special interest groups seek to unseat Republican state representatives who have been staunch supporters of home schooling while they also seek to win open seats. These unions oppose home schooling and think we should be regulated by the state, and thus, they support candidates who very often believe that, too. This result can be prevented in Texas, by God’s grace, through the involvement of home schoolers across the state in campaigns for candidates who understand and are supportive of home schooling freedoms.
I strongly urge you, and everyone you know who shares your philosophy of freedom for home schooling, to vote in the Republican or Democratic Primary. In addition to voting in the primaries, those willing to be active in the political process in other ways can truly impact the positions of the political parties. I sometimes hear people say that neither of the major political parties reflects their philosophical positions, so they have joined a third party or become an independent, affiliated with no political party at all. The problem with this approach is that third parties almost never elect anyone and, therefore, do not directly affect public policy.
Texas has open primaries, which means that any registered voter in Texas may vote in any political party’s primary. However, he may only vote in one party’s primary that election year, and he may not vote in a run-off election of another party. Registered voters who did not vote in any primary at all may vote in a run-off election of any party they choose.
In a primary, very few people vote compared with those who vote in a general election. I repeat: People sometimes complain that they have no good choices in the general election, but those who vote in the primary are choosing the nominee of their political party and therefore, with fewer voters involved, have a greater influence on the final outcome of the general election. Those who wish to be good citizens and enhance their impact on the government vote in the primary. For information on our Good Citizenship Program and how home school students can learn about government firsthand, go to: THSC Good Citizenship Program
The impact that home schoolers in Texas have had on the Republican Party of Texas over the years is a good example of how a dedicated group of people can impact a political party. In the early 1990s, Texas home schoolers began to vote in the Republican primaries and attend precinct conventions at the polling places after the polls closed. These activist home schoolers and like-minded friends were then elected as delegates to the county or senatorial conventions two weeks later. There, they presented and passed resolutions that represented their philosophy and elected themselves and friends as delegates to the Republican State Convention. Home schoolers on the platform committee were successful in getting the committee to adopt a resolution extolling the virtues of home education and opposing regulation by the state. When the full convention adopted that report, the official position of the Republican Party of Texas became pro-home schooling. This year we are supporting a resolution promoting the Texas Parental Rights Restoration Act (TPRRA). Get a copy of it here: TPRRA Talking Points
As home school families continue to be active in the political process, they gain in government an advantage that protects their freedoms to teach their children at home. If we flag or wane in our efforts or begin to “return to the sidelines,” we risk losing the freedom that we currently have and we diminish the possibilities of gaining more freedoms. My prayer is that you and your family will continue, or begin, to practice good citizenship by voting in the primary of the party of your choice and taking part in the convention process of the political parties in Texas.
For your information, I have written a brief description of the political party convention process below with a link to the two major political parties’ rules that outline their respective guidelines for choosing delegates and adopting the platform of their party.
Political Party Convention Process
Political parties in Texas outline their governing philosophy through a convention process that begins at the precinct, or neighborhood, level. On the night of the primary, each precinct has a convention that is open to anyone who voted, either that day or in early voting, in the party’s primary. Two major things are done at that meeting: After the election of a chairman for the meeting, the precinct convention elects a number of delegates to represent the precinct at the county or senatorial convention approximately two weeks later. Each precinct can send a certain number of delegates. Once that is done, the floor is open for any delegate to offer (a) resolution(s) on any topic for discussion and vote. All resolutions that are adopted will be forwarded to the resolutions committee at the next level, the county or senatorial convention. The resolutions adopted in each precinct reflect the philosophy of the majority participating at that convention.
Two weeks from the Saturday following the primary, county or senatorial conventions are held. Each county that is wholly contained in a Texas senatorial district has a county convention. Those counties that are split between more than one state senatorial district have senatorial district conventions. Delegates elected at precinct conventions attend in order to represent their precincts. At these county/senatorial conventions, delegates elect delegates and alternate delegates to represent their county/senatorial district at the political party’s state convention and adopt resolutions that will be sent to the platform committee of the political party’s state convention.
Then in the summer the political parties meet at state conventions to elect party officers and adopt a platform based on resolutions that began in the precincts. Each political party’s platform is a public statement of its governing philosophy. Thus, those who take part in this process choose who will lead that political party for two years and have a voice in expressing the philosophy of the party. The political party is defined by those who participate in its convention process. Parties change over the years based on those who are participating in and defining that political party. Home school parents who wish to take part in this process and give their children that experience should get a copy of the political party’s rules from the party’s county or state headquarters and become familiar with parliamentary procedure. Each time one goes through this process is a great educational experience.