EDITORIAL: Texas GOP needs winners who can govern

November 15, 2017

The continued exodus of veteran Republican congressmen from Texas won’t bring any more Democrats to Washington next year. These districts are considered “safe” for the GOP, either through natural voting sentiments or artificial gerrymandering. But the change could affect voters in another way: They may be exchanging conservative Republicans who actually got the job done with extremists who won’t compromise with any Democrats and often their fellow Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson has added his name to the list that includes Republican congressmen Ted Poe, Jeb Hensarling and Lamar Smith. All are conservative, but they could on occasion vote for something outside the narrow range of tea party doctrine.

Poe even resigned from the far-right House Freedom Caucus in March because the group was so stubborn about GOP attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The caucus put so many unreasonable demands on GOP bills that negotiators couldn’t find any compromise between their views and almost everyone else in the party. In the end, Republicans got nothing on a major goal when they had the voting majorities to pass at least something. Tax reform is going through the same struggle right now.

As Poe said at the time of the health care fiasco, “Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do.”

Poe and the other congressmen are likely to be replaced by Republicans from the Legislature in primary contests that are a race to the right. Any hint of moderation is a disqualifier.

Yet a member of Congress can’t just be an ideological purist. He or she must also serve constituents who might have voted for someone else. If they want something like a border wall, they’ll have to find the billions of dollars to pay for it - or increase the deficits that they supposedly care about.

Most voters want a Congress that pays the bills and occasionally tackles visionary challenges like improving our infrastructure - another goal that has fallen by the wayside amidst the internal GOP bickering. The next batch of congressmen must understand this reality, or their constituents will suffer the consequences.


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