Local Politics Takes a Backseat at CPAC


Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R., Texas) at the capitol in Austin, July 14, 2017 (Jon Herskovitz / Reuters)

After the screening of a humorous montage about the failures of the Biden-Harris administration, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas took a local turn on Friday. Or, at least, it could have. Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, took the stage with Matt Schlapp early in the three-day event. Speaking to a majority-Texan crowd, Patrick was clear to those in attendance that he believes Texas is still the ruby-red state it’s been for the past half-decade. Yet, despite his position as a local official, his remarks against President Biden and the Democratic Party echoed the talking points of other national figures.

Patrick entered the stage to applause and fanfare. He started his speech by touting his connection to Trump and received wild applause when he implied that Trump was ready to run in 2024. Characterizing the electoral contest between Democrats and Republicans as a fight between light and darkness and good and evil, Patrick pilloried the Left for incentivizing chaos. Citing the border crisis, Patrick argued that the Biden administration was intentionally neglecting its constitutional duty to protect the border. He said “the Constitution was not written . . . for a president named Biden.”

True to form, the Texas politician invoked traditional Texan heritage. Bending down to reveal that he was wearing cowboy boots, Patrick made sure to mention how good Texas barbecue tastes. However, Patrick’s nods to aesthetic heritage aside, his message was distinctly national. The lieutenant governor trained his focus on President Biden, the Supreme Court, Democrats’ attempts to restrict Second Amendment rights, and other federal issues.

When Patrick did emphasize the need for local action, he said Texas would help put speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “in the unemployment line.” This line from Patrick’s polemic is emblematic of the way local politics invariably takes a backseat to national affairs. It seems that local politics is a bit like small business: Politicians love to talk about it without actually talking about it.

Dan Patrick’s message may well resonate with conservative voters. His fiery speech ended with a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd of Texans and non-Texans alike. It’s also true that Patrick is a local official looking for national attention. However, on the issue of gun control, for instance, Patrick neglected to mention Texas’ recent victory on constitutional carry. The heated battle over voter ID was similarly neglected. In that context, it is disappointing to see local policies take such a backseat to national politics, especially from a local politician.





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