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.