Texas Democrats can’t drop 2022 election
If you’ve been surprised by the focus the recently completed legislative session has placed on far-right social issues – allowing less weaponry, restrictions on fetal heartbeat abortion, restrictions on teaching race in public schools, transgender athletes and voting restrictions – not on definitive solutions to our energy grid failure, brace for even more at the July Special Session.
Elections have consequences and the only way to change that dynamic is for Democrats not to give up the field in 2022, no matter how heavy the task. The first step is for someone to seriously challenge Governor Greg Abbott, someone who doesn’t need to be introduced to the Texan electorate. Beto O’Rourke.
You might have heard all the reasons why he shouldn’t run.
Another statewide loss will end his career. He ran to the far left in the presidential election. The Democrats’ negative vote in 2018 dashed expectations that prove this is an extremely red state. Mexican-Americans enter the GOP column.
But these reasons are not insurmountable. Beto has been everywhere on TV and social media lately, keeping a presence in the minds of Texans. Remember, Texas liberal icon Ralph Yarborough lost three statewide races before becoming a senator.
O’Rourke ran to the left for president, but if you’ve seen the crowds around him on his campaign for the people’s suffrage, he’s still young, charismatic and perfectly capable of raising funds for the campaign. and mobilize participation. Running against an ideological right-wing legislature, when memories of the February freeze are fresh, may well find an echo. And unlike 2018, pair it with some serious Democratic candidates who can grab attention on their own, and you might have a ticket that can inspire turnout, especially as Democrats return to the door-to-door type of campaign. door they abandoned during last year’s pandemic.
What about Republican Gains in South Texas? Along the Rio Grande, jobs in law enforcement, border security, and the oil and gas industry are especially important. In 2020, Texas Democrats were caught off guard on police funding charges. Joe Biden’s blunder about banning all hydraulic fracturing, including on private land, was also not helpful. A better message and more clarity, versus a defensive stance, can temper their losses here.
Ultimately, it’s not about winning in 2022, especially with gerrymandering in the redistribution making maintaining previously won seats a Democratic priority. It is about building and maintaining a viable alternative to an ultra-conservative agenda that appeases the right.
Each round Democrats put forward to unknown candidates for statewide office opens up the prospect of any political change to come. Just look at the full 2018 statewide post. No matter how vulnerable Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton or Sid Miller may have been, contestants like Lupe Valdez, Mike Collier and Justine Nelson never made their mark on the public’s minds.
O’Rourke changed that dynamic by visiting literally almost every county in Texas. It’s that kind of effort – and that kind of candidate – that reminds people that there is an alternative and gives those voters a reason to go to the polls.
Serious debate on issues such as public education, lack of medical insurance and the importance of migrant labor to our state’s economy in relation to border security depends on an electorate in the general election, and not just narrow, much more conservative Republican primary voters. Even Republicans, who dream of appointing moderate conservatives like former President Joe Straus, will need competitive general elections to convince GOP primary voters that eligibility is more important than ideological purity. Competition among all voters is the foundation of a two-party democracy. If Democrats give up the field, that dream is postponed for all Texans.
Paul Stekler is the Wofford Denius Chair in Entertainment Studies and Documentary Film Director at the University of Texas at Austin.
A version of this editorial appeared in the San Antonio Express News and the Waco Tribune Herald.