"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

"It's mighty reckless/to Mess with Texas!"

I'm reading a lot of articles about the Texas primaries, which have always been in March, but now are suddenly important because they are the first in the election year, and Trump is unpopular, and so on and so on.  I could link to them, but they all say the same thing.  I figure I have as much expertise as the people parachuting in to tell the rest of us What It All Means, so I'll add to what I've said before:

Texas has, at least since Reconstruction, been a one-party state.  That party was the Democrats because the Republicans were associated with outlawing slavery and being the party of the North in the war of Northern Aggression (a name I never heard until a few years ago so, no, I grew up here, I never called it anything more antagonistic than the "War Between the States."  And yes, I always knew it was about slavery.).  Pretty much in line with LBJ's famous prediction when he signed the Voting Rights Act (which was really more consequential to the states than the Civil Rights Act, which is why one has been gutted, the other left alone), the South (and Texas!) started going for the GOP.  By the time Gov. Miz Ann lost to Shrub, the deal was done (though it started with Bill Clements, the first GOP governor in Texas since Reconstruction).  Texas stayed a one-party state, and it stayed a conservative state.

But now those conservatives have gone nuts.  Dan Patrick used his talk-radio platform to travel the state berating school districts (technically independent units of the government, like city or county governments) about who they let use what bathroom.  He intended to ride that into a legislative victory, being Lite Guv. (Lt. Gov., but the name is Ms. Ivins, so it is sacred to me) and so in charge of the Texas Senate (Lt. Gov. is a statewide election, like Governor).  He failed so miserably that the San Antonio (actually Bexar County) GOP censured Joe Strauss, Speaker of the Texas House, for blocking that bill from ever being considered by the House.  That censure took place AFTER (for emphasis!) Mr. Strauss (a Rep. from San Antonio) announced he would not run for election again, which means he'll never be Speaker of the Texas House again.

Yeah:  nuts.

And then, of course, there's Trump.  I argued before (you could look it up) that Hillary could have carried Texas had she but tried.  Instead she used it like an ATM, but spent the money elsewhere.  Turnout by Democrats has been low in Texas for that simple reason:  the Democratic party is afraid of its own shadow, and doesn't give Democrats a reason to vote.  For me, voting against the GOP (which has become increasingly insane) is reason enough, but I know that's not enough for normal people.  Well, now, despite the supine disinterest and milquetoast nature of the Texas Democratic Party, Donald Trump has proven to be Our Man On Their Side and inspired people to vote because they figured 2 years ago:  "Why bother?  HE can't win!"

Now they know better.

Yes, there are 9 or better people running to be governor, including one guy who runs a gay bar (in Dallas!  Once Ground Zero for TeeVee Evangelists and proud home of the Dallas Morning News, the New Hampshire Union Leader of Texas,  and now it has gay bars!  Tell me Texas ain't changin'!) and tells crowds his husband is rescuing dogs as they travel the state (they're up to 11).  He doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell in November, if he gets that far, but what fun it is to see people not afraid to not fit the stereotype (or the fear of Patrick's party)!  The "internet smart money" right now says Beto O'Rourke is a long shot against Ted Cruz;  don't you believe it.  Political observers here in Texas note that Cruz simply isn't that popular, and while we regularly send obnoxious people to the U.S. Senate just to get rid of them (Phil Gramm is Exhibit "A"; Ted Cruz proves me right), even Texans have their limits.   And why are Democrats turning out in record numbers to vote?

To declare they won't let Trump win again, that's the hell why!  More Democrats than Republicans have voted so far, and voting day is today.  These people have been waiting for a reason to vote, and now Trump has given it to them.  Will Patrick lose in November, or Abbott?  Probably not, but there will probably be quite a few more Democrats in the House (and even the Senate) after November.  As one article I read pointed out, Travis County (home of Austin, which practically IS Travis County now) was gerrymandered into 5 Congressional districts, securing Republicans in 4 of them.  Well, securing them based on historical voter turnout, i.e., disinterested Democratic voters.  If those voters get interested this November (and why stop with the primaries?), those 4 districts could elect Democrats.  Gerrymandering thrives these days on voter turnout; change the turnout, and you upset the gerrymandering.

I have a reason to believe.  Is Texas set to become the next California?  Nah!  But we may stop being Mississippi, or even try on being a two-party state for size.  Stranger things have happened.


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