11.24.14

TPA Blog Round Up (November 24, 2014)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:53 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows that even in a bad political year it has plenty to be thankful for as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff highlights Texas for Marriage, a new grassroots group whose goal is to bring marriage equality to our state.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos as well as for Daily Kos is not surprised to know Greg Abbott has jumped on the Obama bashing bandwagon on immigration. Funny how the actual lawless ones try to pin their sins on the POTUS. Greg Abbott’s Reaction to Immigration? The usual. TX Dems are not giving up.

Even as the United States Senate in the 114th Congress looks to be one of the most freakishly conservative in almost a hundred years, PDiddie at Brains and Eggsreminds everyone that — two years from now — nearly half of that Republican majority has to be defended, and many of those seats are in blue states. So maybe Democrats can work on building turnout then…?

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is furious over Abbott’s plan to take money away from projects that promote the general welfare. What does Abbott want to do with our money? Harass Mexicans and hurt the image of the Rio Grande Valley.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The Texas GOP’s transportation funding shenanigans will continue, Schwertner’s Gas Tax Diversion Bait and Switch.

Easter Lemming Liberal News noted a Pants on Fire ruling from PolitiFact, not their rating over an Obama statement on the XL pipeline but Easter Lemming‘s rating of PolitiFact’s lie.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Texas Election Law Blog gently criticizes three less-than-stellar arguments from the week’s news.

The Rivard Report highlights Texas’ achievements in renewable energy.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that vouchers are a bad answer for education.

Newsdesk reviews Ted Cruz’s “politics as prop comedy” act on net neutrality and other Internet issues.

Grits for Breakfast is busy analyzing pre-filed criminal justice bills.

Texas Clean Air Matters calls out ERCOT for missing the big picture on clean energy.

Better Texas Blog reminds us that immigrants drive Texas’ economic success.

Concerned Citizens surveys the now much more interesting San Antonio Mayoral landscape.

11.20.14

Williamson County Elections Administrator Resigns (AGAIN)

Posted in Elections, Williamson County at 5:23 pm by wcnews

This is getting redundant to say the least, Williamson County election administrator Jason Barnett resigns. Kay Estes has been appointed as his interim replacement as Williamson County Elections Administrator.

The Williamson County Election Commission has named Kay Eastes as the interim elections administrator. Jason Barnett resigned from his position on November 13, 2014. Ms. Eastes will serve until a new elections administrator is selected. The elections administrator is appointed by the Elections Commission which is comprised of the County Judge, County Clerk, County Tax Assessor/Collector and the county chairs of the Republican and Democratic political parties. Anyone interested in applying for the position can go to http://www.wilco.org/default.aspx?tabid=2059 for more information.

There were some issues reporting results to Travis County during the last election.  Williamson County just can’t seem to hang on to an elections administrator for very long.

Schwertner’s Gas Tax Diversion Bait and Switch

Posted in 84th Legislature, Taxes, Transportation at 12:37 pm by wcnews

The problem with ending tax diversions has always been that the GOP will never say how they will replace the funding for the items the diversions are funding.  That still holds true with the state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and his proposed legislation to end gas tax diversions.

He has pre-filed legislation to stop diverting $620 million dollars a year for other things.

Schwertner calls it “truth in taxation”, that he believes “when we have a dedicated tax, it should go to that dedicated purpose.”

Schwertner notes keeping all state fuel tax money for highways is only one piece of the funding puzzle, adding the state needs $4 to $5 billion dollars a year.

Schwertner says the fuel tax has been used, among other things, for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Department of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s office.

He says once this legislation is passed, then the discussion will start on prioritizing the state’s budget. [Emphasis added]

In other words Schwertner won’t tell us how he’ll replace the money, if at all, until his bill and amendment are passed.  This legislation cannot be fairly evaluated without knowing how or if the diverted money will be replaced.

At the link above there’s an audio conversation available, give it a listen.  For someone who likes to talk about so-called “truth in taxation” he’s certainly unwilling to admit how he would replace that $620 million.

11.17.14

TPA Blog Round Up (November 17, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 8:51 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance continues to look forward as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at some pro- and anti-equality bills that were pre-filed for the 2015 Legislature.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and for Daily Kos notes that although the Republican voter suppression efforts had its intended effect of keeping so many of us away from the polls, Texas Democrats share some of the blame for voter apathy. Voter Suppression did the Trick in Texas.

Evidence from around the country emerged in the wake of the 2014 election drubbing that change is going to have to come to the Democratic Party from both within and without. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs understood early on that if they cannot regain relevance in midterm elections, then we are all destined to ride the partisan see-saw every two years… and let gridlock reign.

Social Media has been great at blowing up narratives generated from republican think tanks and published in mainstream newspapers, magazines and TV Shows. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to help: No, the new set of Republicans in Congress aren’t less crazy and more pragmatic than Todd Akin or Sharron Angle.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. One more time on some post-election commentary, Williamson Democrats, Battleground Texas, And The Way Forward.

Neil at All People Have Value said that there is not very much to say. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist offers an insider’s view of Battleground Texas… What went right, what went wrong and how the organization moves forward from here. Square one?? Get to know Texas, and don’t mess with what already works.

Easter Lemming, in one of his rare and even popular posts outside of Facebook, covers a Republican blogger who shows how the Republican victories of 2014 set them up for defeat in 2016. There is a Democratic state firewall that would be almost impossible for Republicans to breach to get the presidency and the only question is how many seats will the GOP lose in the Senate and House. Easter Lemming now mainly posts on his Easter Lemming News Facebook page.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Concerned Citizens scouts out the San Antonio Mayoral race.

Lone Star Q has a surprising report about Westboro Baptist’s involvement in the recent Houston anti-gay protests.

Nonsequiteuse examines the cult of Mommy and the cult of the fetus.

Unfair Park wants to know why Ted Cruz wants to slow down their Netxflix streaming.

Texas Watch is hiring.

Juanita relates the worst Veterans’ Day story ever.

Scott Braddock documents a teabagger slap fight in North Texas.

Fred Lewis sums up the evidence that wasn’t presented at the San Jacinto waste pits trial.

11.13.14

Things To Occupy Your Time

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary at 12:46 pm by wcnews

Krugman On Income Stagnation.

111214krugman2-blog480

So if Republicans are gaining from public frustration here, it is ironic. After all, the GOP is systematically opposed to anything that would increase workers’ bargaining power, and bitterly opposed to any suggestion that inequality is an issue — what we need, they say, is growth, which will raise all incomes (even though it hasn’t).

What the 2014 election was not about, Eight Hotly Debated Issues … From the Election That Never Was.

Call it the Election That Never Was.

We’ve heard a lot of talk about this week’s election, but the election we needed is the one we didn’t see. The important issues, the issues that affected people’s daily lives, were never debated. Voters never heard a genuine exchange of views and never had a chance to vote on competing visions of the future.

It has been suggested that the Democratic Party can run and win on social issues in 2016, but that seems less likely after this year’s results. If voters can reject a personhood amendment and elect a far-right Republican on the same ballot, social issues aren’t likely to be the cure-all some Democrats are seeking.

It’s clearer than ever: If Democrats don’t offer bold solutions to some fundamental economic issues (we’ll offer eight of them, but there are more) then the implications for their party – and for the country – are profound, and dire.

Mike Lux on how to recover from the wave, (he’s done it before), Unleashing the Democratic Tsunami in 2016.

Since I have been involved in politics as a full-time job, there have been five times where I had a really bad election night, where the Republicans kicked our ass and won most of the important races: 1980, 1994, 2004, 2010, and of course this year. Every single time was awful. Every single time the country suffered a great deal as a result. But every single time, Democrats came storming back the very next election and had a great year. It’s not too surprising, really: Republicans are an arrogant bunch with really bad and unpopular policy ideas that don’t work out well when they are enacted. And of course, we know that the voting pool in a presidential year tends to look more like the actual population of the country — younger, more people of color, more unmarried voters — and that is a very good thing for Democrats. So while I take absolutely nothing for granted, and know that we will have to work our collective Democratic asses off, I go into 2016 with some confidence.

And two from Texas.

The budget limit for the next two years will be set next month, Let Texas lawmakers invest in our future.

In early December, a small group of leaders, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), will make an important decision that will affect whether our state can make smart decisions about education, transportation, health care and more — priorities for all of us. As required by the state constitution, the LBB will set a spending limit that cannot exceed our rate of economic growth. It will be crucial for the LBB to use a realistic rate of economic growth when making this decision.

[...]

Our state’s founders believed the government had an important role in educating Texans. That’s why the state constitution guarantees the right to education. Those pushing for an artificially low spending limit are anti-government extremists whose proposals would threaten our public school system.

Prudent families make spending decisions based on their available assets, their expected income and the needs of their family members. Similarly, Texas investments should take into account our available revenue and the real needs of our state — now and in the future. Setting an artificially low spending limit is akin to prohibiting a family from sending their child to college regardless of how much money they have in the bank.

And Kuff points to one last cudgel the Feds may have to force Texas to expand Medicaid, Expand Medicaid or else.

It’s always a safe bet to assume that the Legislature will fail to do the right thing when given the chance. I for one will be rooting for the feds to apply the screws as hard as they can in pursuit of a Medicaid expansion deal that would do untold amounts of good for more than a million people, not to mention be a nice bit of stimulus for the Texas economy. Making Ted Cruz’s head explode would be the cherry on top. Against that, when the Republicans from Greg Abbott on down (with the honorable exceptions of Zerwas et al) dig their heels in, perhaps this will finally be the impetus to get the Texas Medical Association to quit trying to placate the bullies and start working to actually further their own and their patients’ best interests.

And last but not least read this if you want to know what went so wrong with Wendy Davis’ campaign, Internal Memos Detail Davis Campaign Dysfunction.

They wrote that the campaign was failing to portray Davis “like a Texan” and had turned her into a generic Democrat who would only have a chance in a state with a recent history of electing Democrats. The party hasn’t won a statewide election in Texas since 1994.

“Running Wendy Davis as a generic national Democrat is not only the quickest path to 38 percent, it’s also a huge disservice to Wendy, her record and the brand she has built,” they wrote. Davis got 38.9 percent of the vote, compared with the 59.3 percent of voters who cast ballots for Abbott.

Given the national wave that swamped Democrats around the country, including in governor races that Republicans won in traditionally blue states like Maryland and Massachusetts, it’s highly unlikely that any political strategy would have ushered Davis into the Texas Governor’s Mansion.

But Dougherty said it didn’t have to be such a rout.

“It’s possible to lose and still look good,” she said in the phone interview. “Our worry in January was it was setting Wendy up for embarrassment throughout the course of the campaign. I think the way the campaign played out was far, far worse than it should have been.”

Oh well.

11.12.14

Williamson Democrats, Battleground Texas, And The Way Forward

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2014 at 3:46 pm by wcnews

So how did Williamson County Democratic candidates do in the 2014 election? There were two races where Democrats did pretty well, relatively speaking, in Williamson County.

The best showings by were John Bucy in HD-136 losing 54-41% to Tony Dale, (almost identical to 2012 when Dale won 53-41% over Matt Stillwell), and Nick Lealos in the Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace race losing 56-44%. That was likely expected as those are the two areas – HD-136 and Commissioner’s Precinct 1 – that are the most favorable for Democrats in Williamson County.

There was not much else to get excited about, as Williamson County is still a very red county.  Countwide races are still out of reach.  Dan Gattis won the County Judge race 63-37% over Michael Custer.  HD-20 is just a ridiculous 75-25% GOP gerrymander.  HD-52 is around the county average 56-39% in favor of the GOP.

There’s quite a bit of chatter – good-ish and bad – about Battleground Texas since last Tuesday.  First I’d like to say that the more folks we have registering voters, calling voters, and blockwalking for Democrats in Texas, the better.  With the success that their model had in Ohio, and other state’s, they may have been saddled with unrealistic expectations.  Coupled with the excitement there was initially for a Wendy Davis campaign, there may have been some irrational exuberance for the Democrats chances in 2014.

They never said their goal was to win in 2014.  They said they were here for the long haul.  And I, for one, am happy they’re here and say they’re not leaving.

On the way forward there is much being said too.  PDiddie had a long post with his thoughts, Feeling vindicated, about the Green Party in Texas and a progressive movement in Texas. The post is full of links about whether or not the Democratic Party is redeemable, and describes it this way.

Warning: all of these links, and a full reading of them, is extraordinarily provocative for those on the left still trying to make some sense of last week’s wipeout. (Was it just a week ago that some Democrats were feeling hopeful about the end of the day’s results? I confess, I had given up some time before early voting concluded; just didn’t want to be Debbie Downer to my hard-working friends and neighbors.)

It’s definitely going to challenge your thinking about the kind of Democrat you should support in 2016, in 2018, etc.

And that needs to happen. Either the Democratic Party nationally — and the Texas Democratic Party as well — can get its shit together, or it’s further on down the road to perdition. I still like the idea of tempting them with my vote and support in exchange for nominating the right left kind of candidates. But if they can’t manage that, I can go Green, no problem.

Sure hope I see more discussions on this topic in the future.

It’s a discussion I’ve had, many times, in my head and with others. The corporatists that run the Democratic Party do not inspire much hope or get voters to the polls. If the Democratic Party is redeemable, in Texas especially, it will likely come from a movement around a social issue outside of the current party structure.

In the meantime the issues excerpted from this Guardian article, America just took a wrong turn. It’s time to take a hard left, show progressive issues that won at the ballot box last week.

But there were real victories this week for progressive alternatives on clean energy, economic security and social justice. The extremist blood bath may have painted the country more red, but there were more than a few important – and extremely promising – tea leaves of green. It was even enough to suggest a new, independent, hard-left turn in American politics is still very much possible.

Fracking bans just passed in cities from California to Ohio and even in Denton, Texas – the town at the heart of America’s oil-and-gas boom. In Richmond, California, progressives beat back a multi-million dollar campaign funded by Chevron to defeat Green and allied candidates. Voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC joined Washington State and Colorado in legalizing marijuana, adding to the growing momentum to call off the failed “war on drugs” that has given the US the highest incarceration rate in the world.

A couple of things are clear. What the Democrats have been running on in Texas over the last 20 years hasn’t been working. For some reason the large majority of Americans of voting age saw no good reason to vote last Tuesday. Until those two things change our state and country will not get the government it needs.

11.10.14

You Got To Stand For Something

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Uncategorized at 1:31 pm by wcnews

Howard Dean makes clear what went wrong:

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean believes Democrats suffered a bad midterm election because they lacked a clear message. “Where the hell is the Democratic party?” he asked on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. “You’ve got to stand for something if you want to win.”

The beauty of Dean is that he’s matter, he knows what’s wrong and how to fix it because he did it. Remember he was the chair of the DNC when Democrats took back the House in 2006.

And Elizabeth Warren gives us direction and hope, It’s time to work on America’s agenda.

The solution to this isn’t a basket of quickly passed laws designed to prove Congress can do something — anything. The solution isn’t for the president to cut deals — any deals — just to show he can do business. The solution requires an honest recognition of the kind of changes needed if families are going to get a shot at building a secure future.

It’s not about big government or small government. It’s not the size of government that worries people; rather it’s deep-down concern over who government works for. People are ready to work, ready to do their part, ready to fight for their futures and their kids’ futures, but they see a government that bows and scrapes for big corporations, big banks, big oil companies and big political donors — and they know this government does not work for them.

The American people want a fighting chance to build better lives for their families. They want a government that will stand up to the big banks when they break the law. A government that helps out students who are getting crushed by debt. A government that will protect and expand Social Security for our seniors and raise the minimum wage.

Americans understand that building a prosperous future isn’t free. They want us to invest carefully and prudently, sharply aware that Congress spends the people’s money. They want us to make investments that will pay off in their lives, investments in the roads and power grids that make it easier for businesses to create good jobs here in America, investments in medical and scientific research that spur new discoveries and economic growth, and investments in educating our children so they can build a future for themselves and their children.

Before leaders in Congress and the president get caught up in proving they can pass some new laws, everyone should take a skeptical look at whom those new laws will serve. At this very minute, lobbyists and lawyers are lining up by the thousands to push for new laws — laws that will help their rich and powerful clients get richer and more powerful. Hoping to catch a wave of dealmaking, these lobbyists and lawyers — and their well-heeled clients — are looking for the chance to rig the game just a little more.

But the lobbyists’ agenda is not America’s agenda. Americans are deeply suspicious of trade deals negotiated in secret, with chief executives invited into the room while the workers whose jobs are on the line are locked outside. They have been burned enough times on tax deals that carefully protect the tender fannies of billionaires and big oil and other big political donors, while working families just get hammered. They are appalled by Wall Street banks that got taxpayer bailouts and now whine that the laws are too tough, even as they rake in billions in profits. If cutting deals means helping big corporations, Wall Street banks and the already-powerful, that isn’t a victory for the American people — it’s just another round of the same old rigged game.

Democrats have to make sure everyone in America knows they are the party of the people again.

TPA Blog Round Up (November 10, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 8:30 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance believes that it’s not whether you stumble that matters but whether you get up and keep going as it brings you this week’s roundup.

As the Fifth Circuit gets set to hear arguments over Texas’ ban on same sex marriage, Off the Kuff reminds us that public opinion is much more favorable towards same sex marriage in Texas now.

Libby Shaw writing for Daily Kos and Texas Kaos believes that although we lost this election, big time, giving up is not an option. We Lost the Election but We Are Not Giving Up.

The first beatings in the Republican takeover in Harris County were administered at their election night watch party, as the media that dared to speak during a prayer experienced first-hand the love of Christ and his believers. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wonders if assaulting a reporter on camera, physically or verbally, is really what Jesus would do.

Despite the ugly results from last Tuesday, CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme refuses to be discouraged. We learn from our mistakes. PS: The Valley went for Davis.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Less than 30% of eligible voters turned out to vote in the 2014 mid-terms in Texas. Needless to say, 2014 Turnout Was Horrible.

Election night may have been tough for Democrats, but it was a big win for the Minimum Wage. This got Texas Leftist wondering… If poorer states like Arkansas and Nebraska can raise wages for their citizens, why can’t Texas’ major cities like Houston, Dallas Austin, San Antonio and El Paso do the same? With skyrocketing costs of living, our citizens definitely can’t survive on $7.25

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Hair Balls informs us that the Fifth Circuit wasn’t always a judicial wingnut backwater.

John Wright updates us on Connie Wilson’s efforts to get a drivers license that properly uses her wife’s surname.

The Lunch Tray divines what the elections mean for school food.

Nonsequiteuse has a message for those who would dump on Battleground Texas.

Texas Vox says that just because air is better doesn’t mean it’s good.

11.06.14

2014 Turnout Was Horrible

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Election 2014, Uncategorized at 4:15 pm by wcnews

Turnout in Tuesday’s election was horrible.  The numbers aren’t finalized yet but it looks like nationwide it was around 36% (and that may be too generous) and in Texas around 28%.  [See here and here.]

The interesting part from the charts in this article, Actual election turnout far lower than reported, is to notice the turnout numbers in the states that have Voter ID laws.

What this means is that in the US 64% of the voting eligible population (VEP), and in Texas 72%, saw no reason to vote.  It’s likely they didn’t vote because no one really spoke to issues they care about.

This article about the US Senate race in Virginia shows the predicament pretty well.  Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) won big in 2012 and barely squeaked out a win on Tuesday.  He ran both times as a self-described “radical centrist”.

But what is also clear from that margin — and from the final weeks of the campaign — is that Warner’s operation didn’t really adapt to the partisan reality of the new mood. A self-described “radical centrist” who prided himself on his appeal among Republicans and independents, Warner steadfastly continued to court those voters despite strong evidence that their tolerance for Democrats had dramatically waned.

Warner also may have missed out on a new advantage for politicians with D’s after their names in Virginia’s changing demographic landscape.

Republican Ed Gillespie gives remarks at his election night party in Springfield, Va. (Kate Patterson/For The Washington Post)

By positioning himself as a moderate, he may have missed a chance to gin up more enthusiasm within the state’s expanding Democratic base, earning fewer votes in such deep-blue communities as Arlington County and Alexandria than left-of-Warner Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) did a year ago.

All of it has left some to wonder whether Warner would have won bigger if he had eschewed the middle and embraced the left, and whether the winning path for moderates that Warner forged during his own bid for governor 13 years ago is becoming extinct.

The most interesting part of the article is how dismissive Sen. Warner was and is of a message that was more friendly to the Democratic base.

The playbook that allowed Warner to dominate the commonwealth’s old electoral map barely worked Tuesday in Virginia, where some once-blue, union-friendly counties are now deep red — and vote-rich Northern Virginia is the place that delivers Democrats their wins.

That’s how McAuliffe did it last year — and how Sen. Timothy M. Kaine did it the year before.

They also did it by throwing out more partisan rhetoric to jazz up Democratic voters — something some Warner confidants suggested that he do, too.

“I was an advocate of him introducing more base red-meat topics, and he resisted because he is still speaking to the ‘radical centrist’ voter,” longtime adviser Ellen Qualls, who helped Warner prepare for debates, said before the election. “I wanted him to talk a lot more about personhood and birth control than he actually does.”

Instead, aside from a few debate references, Warner helped Gillespie stay away from such divisive issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. Warner’s TV commercials were silent on those issues, too.

“My path has been very different from Terry’s or Tim’s or others’,” Warner said in an interview with The Washington Post before the election. “To the annoyance of some of my so-called staff, I’m going to Abingdon and Russell County now because Southwest Virginia gave me a start, and I’m not going to cede one part.”

It was so different that he almost lost. What Warner stated at the end was the most baffling.

“I think there are enough of us in both parties who realize that this process that one side puts up an ideological bill and the other side filibusters and it’s rinse and repeat and we never get to debate . . . ” he said. “I don’t want this job to vote on deputy secretaries and ambassadors. If you want the job, you’ve got to wrestle with the big problems, and that means that those of us who want to do something, [we have] to be willing to shake things up no matter who’s in charge.”

Yes, the radical centrist will shake things up by working out a deal on…..what exactly no one knows.

Warner and many other Democrats would likely have changed the numbers and maybe a few outcomes if they had spoken to the millions of voters around the country that are left out of most election conversations. Just look at the issues that are being mentioned for possible compromise between President Obama and the GOP Congress.

  • Corporate Income Taxes
  • International Trade Deal
  • Keystone XL Pipeline
  • Emergency Ebola Funds
  • Authorizing Military Force Against ISIS
  • Immigration
  • and Infrastructure/Transportation Spending

Of those the only ones that may be of interest to those who didn’t vote are the last two. All the rest are basically give-aways to corporations, big money donors, or both.

It’s a chicken and egg scenario.  The majority of Americans aren’t voting because no one is speaking to their issues.  And no one is speaking to their issues because the majority of Americans are not voting.

Bloodbath

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2014, Uncategorized at 11:03 am by wcnews

There’s no sugar-coating it, Tuesday was a bloodbath for Democrats.

It’s painfully obvious that the Democrats, in Texas and around the country, gave far too many people no reason to show up and vote for them this year.  This graphic is illustrates the issue very well.

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In Texas the wing nuts are calling the Democratic Party no better then a student council.  While that’s not the case it’s hard not to feel like it’s true right now.

Mike Lux, Democrats Failed To Tell Their Story, makes it clear that Democrats did little to give voters a reason to vote for them in 2014. And the immigration decision was really destructive to their chances.

You don’t win elections with a depressed and discouraged base, and you don’t win elections without a narrative that explains to voters why we you should win. Democrats failed on both scores. What my party needs to learn is that our candidates need to tell voters why they have a D behind their name on the ballot, and our entire party- candidates, top elected officials, Democratically-aligned organizations, the grassroots and Netroots- needs to have a unified story about what the election is about.

And here’s the thing: good stories have both a villain and a hero who overcomes the villain. It can’t be a villain-less story about how we all just need to all work together in bipartisan fashion, and it can’t be a hero-less story that is all negative about the Republicans either. It has to be both: in red states, in tough elections, voters who are wary of the Democratic party will not be moved by the Democrats saying they are not Obama. In order to embrace the Democratic candidate, they need to understand why that candidate is a Democrat.

[...]

We should have crafted a message around what this election was about. It should have had elements of a strong economic agenda for hard-pressed women and young voters; it should have painted a picture of the agenda of the Koch brothers and the other big money special interests trying to buy the election on the other side. And you know what else: it should have included a story about the big things the Democrats are doing to help people, all the things I talked about above but also including immigration reform.

Looking at the cratered numbers for people like Pryor and Grimes who spoke against the executive order and got no more old white folks voting for them as a result , I woke up this morning convinced that one of the biggest mistakes of this election was Obama’s failure to do the immigration executive order before the election. Republicans would have screamed bloody murder, which would have gotten a more fired up reaction from our base; and it would have been a jolt of energy not just to Hispanics but to young people and other elements of the Rising American Electorate that pollsters like Stan Greenberg are so focused on.

Instead of a jolt of energy, what Democratic voters got instead was a dose of depression. Look at Alison Grimes: when she was running populist ads against the Koch brothers and bringing Elizabeth Warren to the state to fire up the troops, she was right in the game, in a dead heat against McConnell. When she refused to say who she voted for in 2012, and then ran a right wing immigration ad, her numbers deflated like a flat tire, and she ended up getting crushed.

Texas Democrats did little, if anything, that inspired people to come out and vote for their candidates. Jim Moore takes apart the Wendy Davis campaign in his post, Wendy Made it Worse. I don’t want to focus on the issue he has with the consultants and such. But more on his issues with the messaging fail of the campaign.

Davis spent the entirety of her campaign attacking her opponent, a man who clearly needs a serious political comeuppance. But it is axiomatic in American politics that when you run negative ads you drive up your own negatives almost as much as you do those of your opponent. Voters had a hard time turning on their TVs and seeing anything positive from Davis. No one today can effectively articulate how a Governor Davis would have made their lives different than a Governor Abbott because Davis simply did an ineffectual job of communicating on pocketbook and daily life issues.

In fact, on some issues she simply failed to communicate. Up until about the last 6-8 weeks of the campaign, Davis had nothing on her website about immigration or health care, and, in a state where the candidates for the top office talk constantly about the border, Davis was virtually silent on it. Never mind that it is a federal government responsibility and the state doesn’t have the resources to really have an impact; voters want to know what their governor thinks about securing the border.

Davis might have even won the campaign (Yeah, I know, wild assertion), if she simply talked about Medicaid. Estimates are that Texas has close to two million residents that would be eligible for Medicaid if Governor Rick Perry would allow it to be expanded under Obamacare. But Davis did not use the issue on the stump. Texas is expected to lose $22 billion by 2020 in federal tax money by not participating in Medicaid.

Instead of ads on that topic, though, Davis ran a commercial about a woman who was raped by a vacuum cleaner salesman, and her opponent, as attorney general, defended the company. The spot had the usual sonorous voice explaining how Abbott argued to protect the company against the victim’s lawsuit and it used grayish video of a man getting out of a car and going to a door with a vacuum cleaner. Bad ad. Bad idea. Even worse, the Davis team did not tell the woman who had been victimized that the political ad about her tragedy was going to be a part of the statewide discourse.

Davis did nothing but attack. And that did nothing toward communicating her vision for Texas, assuming she had pondered a future for the state. On education, she got sucked into a fight with Abbott over Pre-k and never effectively explained how she would improve public schools. Property taxes in the state are onerous but she never addressed that beyond a vague mention of looking at corporate tax breaks. In a state where roads are crowded and water is running low, she hardly even had generalities to offer on those two critical concerns. But in one day she put out twelve news releases on ending the statute of limitations on rape.

Davis lost because she deserved to lose. And Texas is a very conservative, Republican state that will take time to turn the purple Obama’s acolytes were convinced it could be colored this year. The pros from Dover can go home now. They’ve made a lot of money on the Davis campaign. There will be no statue erected to honor Jeremy Bird on the grounds of the Texas capitol. And Battleground Texas will likely become another historical Texas footnote about the outlanders who came down to show us how to make it happen, but didn’t.

This is a huge setback for those of us who love Texas and dream of a progressive government. More uniforms will patrol the border and turn it into an armed camp. An increasing number of toll roads will be built and there will be little or no advancement in mass transit and rail. Religion will creep back into public schools and our textbooks will teach evolution as a theory.

It’s not all her fault, obviously. She would’ve had made a much better governor than Greg Abbott. But there is no denying Wendy Davis made things worse for Democrats in Texas.

The one thing I kept thinking in the closing week or two of the election was when are we going to see the sunny/inspiring closing ad from the Davis campaign. The one issue that often gets overlooked, that made Davis and the Democrats job extremely hard, is the economic conditions in Texas.  It’s really hard to take down the incumbent party when the economy is in good shape.

In the end it was a long-shot, and most knew she had to run a perfect campaign and get some luck.  Neither of those happened.  The dissatisfying part of the results on Tuesday was, as Moore points out, that things seem to have gotten worse and not better for Democrats in Texas.

The one lone bright spot, and an issue/organizing template for the future was the Denton Fracking Ban that passed overwhelmingly.

All of this leaves me wondering – how in the world did a crooked party, that only cares about the rich, become the “party of the working folk”?  It’s because far too many weren’t reminded of that, What really went wrong for Democrats.

Pollster Celinda Lake, who polled on multiple races, says the broader failure to articulate this — from the President on down — led these voters to opt instead for vague promises of a change in direction.

“We have a huge problem: People do not think the recovery has affected them, and this is particularly true of blue collar white voters,” Lake said. “What is the Democratic economic platform for guaranteeing a chance at prosperity for everyone? Voters can’t articulate it. In the absence of that, you vote for change.”

“Our number one imperative for 2016,” Lake concluded, “is to articulate a clear economic vision to get this country going again.”

It’s because every Democrat in America doesn’t use that as the guiding light of their campaign.  Things are never as good or as bad as they seem.  And this is no reason to stop working hard and give up hope.  It’s OK if it’s impossible.

“It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK! Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, “I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough “good things will happen—something’s gonna happen.”

To end I’ll post Rick Perlstein’s “Rules of Liberal Political Success”.

Got to make people feel good.

No liberal regime has ever succeeded in American History without successfully stigmatizing the conservatism that preceded it as a failure that ruined ordinary people’s lives.

A transformational Democratic president must be a credible defender of the economic interests of ordinary Americans to a preponderance of those ordinary Americans sufficient to push through their distrust of cosmopolitan liberals as such. (Anti Big Business Populism).

No liberal regime has ever succeeded in American History without successfully stigmatizing it’s opposition as extreme, as alien, as strange, as frightening to ordinary Americans who want order in their lives.

To all the Democratic candidates and everyone who worked so hard on all the campaigns, registering voters, phone banking, and getting voters to the polls – thank you very much.  Better days are ahead, it’s just going to take time and hard work.

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