Editor's Note: Jade Esteban Estrada is the writer of Glitter Political, a series of articles detailing San Antonio's elections.
When Governor Greg Abbott said to deafening applause that if Texas was its own country – "again" – that it would be one of the top 10 most self-sustaining countries in the world, I saw the stark difference between older Texas Republicans and the younger, more Trump-aligned Republicans who make up an increasingly powerful voting class.
"That makes me more powerful than Putin!" Abbott continued to the cheers of the base to whom he was speaking this morning at the Texas Republican Convention in San Antonio.
Later, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick praised the “awesomeness” of Donald J. Trump.
In another room, FOX News contributor Guy Benson, one of the few gay men who eat at Chick-fil-A without feeling bad about it, talked at length about the president's wildly entertaining, though sometimes fact-free, statements. His panel guests called for reasonable and constructive dialogue with the sliver of Democratic voters the party would need to win or keep congressional seats in November. Benson, who's much shorter than I imagined and amused his audiences with his brilliant Trump impersonation, concluded his session promoting “the facts” when debating issues but stressed the idea of being mindful of the other person’s feelings. He doesn't see this as "a snowflake" move. American society has come to a point in this decade's culture war where we “fetishize rudeness – we should have manners,” he said, charmingly navigating his role as a gay man in this conservative movement as only he can famously do. He also spoke of the importance of supporting the president
when "he's right" but to be vigilantly united enough to oppose him when
he's wrong, like when George W. Bush tried to nominate an unfit candidate to the Supreme Court.
Downstairs in the exhibitors hall, where Galveston oysters are offered to all
attendees, red, white and blue is unsurprisingly the color code for this weekend
affair, where everyone is still celebrating 45's birthday. On day 2 of my GOP adventure I donned my gay Stepford wife look, a light blue shirt, red tie and a
dark blue blazer. The red, Dutch-style jeans were tight enough to represent all of the unsurprisingly absent Log Cabin Republicans. Even my socks are making
America great again.
Shortly before Abbott spoke, a woman dressed in our nation's colors asked me to take a photo of her by "The Cruzer," a large van dedicated to Ted Cruz's election campaign. So I'm in the game and confidently take a selfie with former Councilwoman Elisa Chan.
I've been discriminated against as a Latino. And, of course, I’ve been
discriminated against as a gay man. But when some people glance down at my badge and give me that look as if they have smelled something awful, I realize I’d never been discriminated against for being a member of the press. Check that off the bucket list, mate.
In the media room, conservative radio host Jon-David Wells makes room for me in a corner alongside him. Who was here before? “You know,” he snaps his fingers twice. “The cute one with no credibility.” And just then a man knocks on the door. “Excuse me, is this the fake newsroom?” The room bursts into fits of laughter.
What's not fake news is the floor fight between Cindy Ashe and James Dickey for the Republican Party chairperson. The future of the Texas Republican Party is being decided now – possibly by the young guns who see the need to unite rather than divide.