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Some down home Texas politics

We have an elected office in Texas called Land Commissioner. But it’s really more about mineral extraction and distribution, i.e., big business, than just land and it’s one of several ideal starting points for a long, profitable, national political career. Alex Pareene, always a fun semi-daily read at Salon, has a short piece a couple of days ago titled GOP’s secret idiot? If George P. Bush is its future, the party’s in trouble. Wherein he makes some great points about the latest Bush-spawn running for a launching pad office in the Great Lone Star State, and may well be right. But just to take the potentially dismal counterpoint, I want to highlight one thing that jumped out at me in the post:

Being famous and avoiding scrutiny as much as possible is actually a decent way to get elected to many offices. It helps to have money, and Bush certainly does. One benefit of being a Bush is access to the legendary Bush family “Rolodex” of family friends/fundraisers. Mr. Bush’s campaign has nearly $3 million, the Wall Street Journal recently reported. “The campaign of his primary opponent, Gilmer business consultant David Watts, had $2,000 cash on hand and $4,000 in debt….”

 

The usual progressive hope goes something like this: about 38% of the state population is Hispanic, about 45% is what’s called non-Hispanic white. The former leans heavily democratic and the latter leans so far right they’re almost around the ideological event horizon ending up to the left of Texas democrats on some issues. Hispanics are gaining quick, in another ten years or so, they are projected to overtake the non-Hispanic white plurality, starting in kindergarten and ending up in the voting booth. Which seems like an easy win for democrats. Texas goes purple, red-blooded national GOP hopes fade to blue.

But there’s just one little nagging thing. The money.

Don’t discount the ability of money to sway votes and even change cultural memes over time with sheer repetition. It worked on working class whites all over the south and west. In Texas, I’ve personally watched two decades of pissed off white people whining that billionaire taxes should be cut, calling unions and workplaces regs and the entire social safety net every strange name you can imagine, and angrily denouncing in increasingly hysterical terms any resources being directed at edu or healthcare, even those that would clearly and immediately benefit them and everyone they know.

The GOP does have a big Hispanic problem, in that it’s unclear how they shift gears from viciously scapegoating Latinos to embracing enough non-white voters to continue the hard conservative stranglehold they currently enjoy on virtually every state organ and office. But don’t count them out. Don’t take it for granted. Money is speech, so money is politics. They’ve managed to turn the very people who would benefit from progressive policies against those same policies using lots of money. I hope I’m wrong, but with enough money they might manage to the same kind of thing with Hispanics.

Comments

  1. besomyka says

    I think the biggest problem right now that can be addressed is getting people registered to vote, making sure they have the right ID, and then getting them to the polls.

    Same as it ever was.

    Which is why I’ve been sworn in as a deputy registrar in Travis Country. If anyone in Texas, and Travis Counyt in particular needs help registering, or want specific information on what you can do to vote given whatever particular circumstances you find yourself in, drop me a line on Twitter @Besomyka.

    Some interesting things I learned:

    1. If you’re disabled (a Vet or otherwise), and can get the papers that indicate 50% or higher disability, then you don’t need an ID to vote. There’s a form to fill out to get exempted.

    2. If you’re homeless or transient, you can register at the address of any shelter and a the mailing address can be anywhere mail can get to you (a relative, a PO box, the shelter, etc – it’s where your voters registration card will be sent). The residence address is only to figure out which precincts and bond issues you vote on. You don’t have to live at that address permanently.

    3. No one *needs* an ID to vote, and you don’t even need to go to the polls. You can vote by mail in Texas if you certify that you’re disabled, or will be away when the polls are open (say you’re vacationing with relatives, or something). It’s just a check-box to indicate why you are voting by mail. No additional documentation(!) is needed.

    Closer to home personally, if your ID photo no longer matches your presentation, voting by mail is a viable, safe, option.

  2. magistramarla says

    Something that we as Democrats really need to do is educate voters.

    http://www.expressnews.com/news/news_columnists/gilbert_garcia/article/Obama-foe-unlikely-frontrunner-for-Democratic-5267590.php

    It seems that this Kesha Rogers, who is a Larouche follower, is leading in the Democratic primary polls right now. Apparently, this person advocates the impeachment of President Obama and has paraded around Texas with a poster showing the President with a Hitler mustache.
    It is believed that she is getting votes because her name resembles a singer named Ke$ha.
    The conservatives in the paper’s commentary section are chortling about this.
    Some days I despair for Texas.

  3. poose says

    I don’t understand something here.

    The internet, via Twitter, Facebook et al has all but eliminated the need for political funds. Not to mention sites like Rightwingwatch, I no longer rely on political ads for my decisions regarding this democratic nation

    I go to the source, and choose with a conscious. I think these facts are lost on typical pundits, and the assumption that, marketwise, A=B means yet another conservative PAC will funnel large amounts of capital down a rabbit hole in a vain attempt to “win” the electorate, only to discover, usually far too late, they’re onto your BS.
    I can say this now, based only on one thing-the idiot’s record: Couldn’t care less, I didn’t send them squat.

    I can say I did vote for Bush the senior.I didn’t vote for the shrub, either time. Jeb has absolutely no chance in my book. Neither Christy, he’s way too greasy.

    Until the Republicans can front a candidate that isn’t a blathering idiot, count me out. Hillary is looking good right about now.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    George P Bush?

    Either someone is being very creative in naming their leguminous plants* or very unimaginative innaming their children!

    * And don’t tell me plants can’t stand for political office either – I believe Mike Moore’s ficus for some office or other campaign went rather well! Leguminosae family plants can at least fix Nitrogen – human politicians can’t fix anything or so it sometimes seems.

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