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Op-Ed: Texas Tea Party Leader Critiques Support of Straus

Op-Ed: Texas Tea Party Leader Critiques Support of Straus

It has been over a month since Rep. Giovanni Capriglione dropped his bombshell on NE Tarrant Tea Party, telling us he would be supporting Joe Straus for Speaker of the House, but the outrage and questions have not died down.

Just today I received this email from one of our members. He allowed me to share it but requested to remain anonymous:

Julie,I am about to give up on the speaker of the house and all the others.Why do I vote in the first place.I do not see anything  we can do to change things. They are doing everything they desire and we get nothing.

NETTP Member

This email is not unique. I get several like this every day. I’ve been told that Gio claims he’s received less than 20 complaints about his decision. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I scrolled through my emails to see how many I’ve received … and I quit counting at about 150.

The email I shared above speaks volumes. It explains why this situation is about  more than one vote Gio takes …  why the anger isn’t subsiding … why we must keep talking about this. And the answer to all those “why” questions is because this one vote has revealed to us that even those we trust often betray us.  We’ve learned that no matter how hard we try, we continue to get slapped in the face. This “one vote” has caused devoted patriots to lose hope, feel defeated, and give up. The sentiment seems to be, “If even Gio can turn on us, who can we trust? If every victory turns into a betrayal, why bother?”

Oh, if I could only speak to each of you one on one and tell you the stories that this one person’s decision has brought about … The tension between State Reps who used to be one solid, cohesive group. The activists who are now fighting because frankly, they just don’t know what to think about one of our own turning on us.  Some cannot bear to accept it and are fighting to support him, while others have decided we have no choice but to cut ties and move on.

I want so desperately for all of you to understand that this is about a movement, not a vote. It’s about friendship, teamwork, encouragement, trust, and forward-moving momentum. Is it possible for one man’s vote on one issue to destroy all that?

The answer is an obvious yes. Sadly, it is possible, and it is taking place as we speak. But the answer is also no, and I’ll get to that later. But first …

Gio has been busy meeting with Precinct Chairs and other activists to explain his decision. He’s quite good at it. You might walk into a meeting livid with Gio, and walk out saying, “Ok, I don’t like it, but he makes some sense.” Here are my thoughts on why that doesn’t work with me …

“Gio is our friend, he’s on our side, and we should just trust him to do the right thing even if we don’t understand it.”

“He’s smarter than we are,” I’ve even heard said. Can I just say that I will never blindly trust ANY representative?  If I did, it wouldn’t make me much of an activist, would I? NETTP has spent nearly six years training our group to NOT blindly trust, so please don’t start now!

“It’s just one vote… let it go.” 

As I explained above, it’s about much more than just one vote. First of all, the one vote determines the agenda for the entire rest of the session. Second of all, the vote has far-reaching repercussions way beyond who the Speaker will be.

This is an effort we’ve been working on for three sessions now (six years). Each year, we grow our numbers and add momentum. We knew it was a long-term game, not something we’d win right away. But this year, we’ve lost numbers. Instead of building momentum, we’re moving backward. Instead of adding to our numbers, we are splintering — both as grassroots activists and within our coalition of conservative State Reps.

It is not about “one vote” — it is about our entire movement.

“He’s still Gio. We still have a conservative legislator for District 98.”

Um, how selfish is that?  As activists, we must look at the statewide repercussions.  As citizens of Tarrant County — the most conservative county in Texas — we have a responsibility to set the pace for the entire state.

Gio knows this.  He knows he is a leader.  He knew when he defected from our efforts he would take large numbers of other, weaker Reps with him.  He denies all this, but Gio is not a naive man — he knew it would happen. And I know he knew it because other State Reps warned him about it and pleaded with him not to go through with it.

“Gio will still vote conservatively.”

Well, I guess that’s easy to do when very little conservative legislation will be allowed to the floor for a vote!  How do we calculate the value of the

“Turner is not qualified.”  “Turner is only using this as a stepping stone.” “Turner did not ask me if he could run.”

Gee, given those statements, Gio has no moral choice but to vote for Straus, right? [That’s sarcasm.]

Let me put it this way …

If I ran a family business and needed to fill a management position, who would I hire? Let’s say I have two options.

The first is an in-law. He doesn’t really like the rest of the family.  He does have more experience with the job, but upon investigating that experience, it’s discovered that he is known to cheat, lie and manipulate to get his way. He tends to run the business like a mafia boss. He’s a bully.

The second option is the younger brother. No, he doesn’t have much experience, and you’re not sure why he even wants the job.  He never told us he wanted the job, and when he put in his application, he didn’t ask Mom first.  You suspect he might be hoping to go out into the world on his own later. But you do know he shares the company’s vision, and he’s also got a lot of integrity and a strong faith … plus the support of some of your most trusted friends!

The choice of who to promote is a no-brainer, isn’t it? Straus is the in-law; Turner is the younger brother. I would go with the younger brother and commit heart and soul to working with him so he could be the best he could be.  I’d stay by his side, coach him when I could, encourage him, and help him build a solid team so that the whole family wins.

I certainly wouldn’t abandon him because he didn’t ask my permission first!

“But Gio says Straus isn’t really that bad after all.”

This is the one that shocks me the most. I don’t even know what to say to this. There are long lists of things Straus has done to hurt conservatives. His go-to guys have vowed to kill all conservative legislation this session.  His lieutenants have sent emails literally cursing us behind our backs. And now all of the sudden we’re to believe Straus is pro-life, very qualified, is not at fault for any of the conservative bills being blocked, and plays by the rules? Oh, come on. Any leader parroting this crap (and some in NE Tarrant are) needs to have his/her position revoked.

As for Straus being pro-life — don’t believe it. There is a reason the #1 abortion group (NARAL) has given him a 100 percent rating! Look at the facts, not the rhetoric.  Or as we say during campaigns, always look at the candidate’s record!

“There is no race.”

Hogwash!  There are two candidates — there IS a race. And if Gio hadn’t defected from the conservative team, there’d be a pretty strong contest. When Gio tells you there is no race, it’s because HE refused to participate, choosing to play with the enemy and deny his supporters instead of finding ways to help out and make the most of the ONE conservative that stepped up to run.

“Julie, you’re being too tough on Gio.”

I have heard this from three or four of you, and more of you might be thinking the same, who knows? Please recognize that NE Tarrant Tea Party is one of the largest and most active tea parties in the state. We are very well respected (feared) in Austin. Our group is sought out by anyone wanting to run for office. We’ve even gained national recognition for our efforts here and there.  And tea parties around the country come to us wanting to know how to replicate what we do. In other words, we are setting a standard.  If we — the most conservative county in the most conservative state in the nation — give a pass to our own State Rep on a vote as key as this one, what message does that send to State Reps in other, less conservative areas? “If Gio can get away with it in THAT district, so can I! Why should I bear the burden if he’s not?” Again, we must think outside of just our own district. We have a responsibility to the whole state. Remember, this is about a movement, not just about one vote.

So I said I would get back to the “no” answer to my first question …  Is it possible for one man’s vote to destroy all we’ve built? NO! Not if we don’t let it.

Folks, I know it’s discouraging. We’ve been disillusioned. We put our faith, time and money into someone we thought we could trust to fight for us, and he let us down. Shoot — I even brought him into my church!  Who can we count on? Who will let us down next?

You know what?  I don’t know! Chances are, someone will! But that does not change me or you, and it does not change what is right or what is wrong.

I was called to this fight. I do not do it because I love politics or because I have nothing better to do. I do it as a service to my God, to my family, to my state and to my country. I hope your motivation is the same. If it is, you must continue.

My family recently visited Boston and Philadelphia, and we studied about our Founding Fathers. None of us have risked like they did. None of us have suffered like they did.  None of us have faced the discouragement and fear they did. If they could keep going, so can we. We must, or they did all that for nothing. And then shame on us.  We become no better than those who have let us down.

If you would like to contact Representative Giovanni Capriglione about his support for Joe Straus for Speaker of the House, you may do so by calling (817) 431-5339 or by clicking here to send an email.

If you would like to learn more about the history of Joe Straus, please click here.  You can also click here to hear a short video on how a vote for Straus goes against a core tenet of NE Tarrant Tea Party, the Rule of Law.

The vote for Speaker is on January 13.  We may lose the vote, but we will fight until the very end.  And either way, we will continue after that vote to work closely with our State Reps (yes, including Gio) to get as much conservative legislation passed as possible.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is invited to provide an op-ed response to this article.

This article originally appeared on Julie McCarty’s NE Tarrant County Tea Party website.

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