There’s a certain justice in the selection of Tom Mechler to lead the Texas Republican Party.
Mechler is from Amarillo, the unofficial “capital” of the Texas Panhandle, which is the unofficial capital of the Texas conservative movement that is so tightly bound to the Republican Party.
I’ve known Mechler for a number of years. I like him. I admire his tenacity. I think he’ll do a good — maybe even a great — job as chairman of the Texas GOP.
Why the justice angle?
Mechler served on the Texas Criminal Justice Department of board. So he’s well-versed in punishing criminals for the misdeeds they commit.
But more to the point: The Panhandle has been known for decades as the place where conservatism was cool before it was cool anywhere else. The state’s political tides began turning first in the Panhandle. While the rest of Texas remained solidly Democratic, the Panhandle started turning Republican, sending up signals that the rest of the state began to understand.
There’ve been pockets of arch-conservatism here, starting with the John Birch Society, which for many years has preached a brand of isolationism that hasn’t really gone mainstream.
I don’t know how Mechler intends to lead the Texas Republican Party. Perhaps he’ll take this advice, should he ever read it. It would be that the party needs to return somewhat to the center, back toward the few remaining Texans who still call themselves Democrats.
There once was a tradition in Texas of the parties working together for the common good. The reality of late has been that Republicans — who’ve grown into a colossus — are trying to bulldoze an agenda into public policy that isn’t a good fit for all Texans.
Mechler seems on the surface to be of a quite conservative persuasion. Maybe that’s how he campaigned for the office he’s just obtained. Now that he has, might he drift more toward the center?