Monday, June 10, 2013

A quick thought on the purpling of Texas.

Texas, as we all know, is just a small demographic tweak away from turning blue.  Listening to the State's Democrats all they have to do is sit around and wait until Texas rising minority populations hit critical mass and then they'll be free to spend all of the money in the rainy-day fund, increase taxes, get rid of the spending cap and spend even more. 

Add to that the joy surrounding the arrival of Battleground Texas and certain political consultants of a progressive lean are already giddily making home improvement and expansion plans in anticipation of the increased revenues they are expecting during 2014.  Even the progressive blogosphere is weighing in, although some of them are taking a longer view. All of this is well and good, and the images on Twitter of Caucasian progressives working phone banks for Battleground Texas are firing up the base despite being unintentionally humorous. None of the discussion addresses the biggest problem.  Namely, there's no one actually running as of yet.

While I don't believe that demographic change necessarily has to equate to the purpling of Texas (there is fertile ground to plow for Republicans with the State's rising Hispanic population if they would ever perform a rectal/cranial extraction on immigration for instance) I do believe that Democrats are going to have to do more than just sit around and wait things out.

To my thinking, the first step is quality candidates and on that front they are lacking.

It's very easy for political consultants (hoping to make money) and political bloggers with no real skin in the game to promote a "run everywhere" philosophy, to actually do so means offering up a strong slate of candidates who actually have a chance of winning.  The long-term damaging potential of a slate full of Chris Bell and David Van Os type candidates is very real.  The political humor of "a Moon-shot for Texas education" and "Big Oil, I'm coming after you" has lasting, damaging effects. In order to win you need voters to take you seriously, and you need candidates with a vision the majority of Texans can get behind.

Currently Texas Republicans are having it easy.  The State Democrats due, in part, to a vacuum of leadership, haven't put up viable candidates in many races.  The result of this is that several Republicans who probably shouldn't be in elected office (See: Susan Combs) are getting elected.  They are winning because the alternative is much, much worse than electing a fringe candidate from the majority party who's perceived impact is going to be more benign. Add to this the fact that Republicans no longer need to campaign to the majority, due to Texas Democrats basically surrendering, and you have a situation where the entire State is damaged due to no electoral accountability. 

Yes, a lot of this is do to how the electoral maps are drawn, with the creation of "safe" districts leading to the de-facto unchallenged re-election of many bad candidates (on both sides of the aisle) but there's an argument to be made that some (not all) of these "safe" districts would not be so had one side not thrown in the towel before the election even started.

All of that said, politics is a pendulum.  And there will come a day when Texas Democrats find themselves back holding the reins of Texas political power.  If they continue to do so while running marginal candidates just to fill ballot holes then it won't just be Republicans who suffer, it will be all of Texas.

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