The Democrats in Texas have definitely turned the corner. As we can see in several recent articles, the way the media is talking about Texas Democrats chances in 2008 has changed and for the better.
This article from R.G. Ratcliffe shows a little of the change, Democrats think they can make big gains. The headline alone is evidence. But as we read in the story, at least on the surface, the Texas GOP is very dismissive of the Democrats chances.
With polls showing voter dissatisfaction in Texas mirroring a national mood, state Democrats believe that they will have the wind to their backs for the first time in a dozen years in the 2008 elections.
But Republicans say that is a pipe dream that will quickly evaporate through money and organization once the GOP rallies behind a presidential nominee.
Although one previous GOP leader is less sure.
State Republican leaders insist they still have the majority of voters in Texas as well as the money and organization to turn them out, even in a year when the political landscape is giving an edge to Democrats nationally.
But some in the GOP see the potential for a party disaster in 2008, including the possibility that the state could go Democratic in a presidential race for the first time since 1976.
“The vaunted Republican organization, which was really strong in the 1990s, has really weakened. The grass-roots organization, for all practical purposes, is a remnant of what it once was,” said former Texas GOP Chairman Tom Pauken. “It (the election) is not something to be taken for granted, and the Democrats in the right circumstances could take Texas.”
The Texas GOP can still count on it’s base to a large extent. The statement that no longer seems to hold is whether the Texas GOP still has a majority of voters, doubtful. Here’s why. Every knows that which party does better with the Independent/Undecided voters is the party that wins elections. Neither party has ever had a “majority” of the voters, the party that swaysthe Independents is the party that wins. Over the last 12 – 15 years the Texas GOP has done a much better job at that then the Texas Democrats at winning Independents. That is what is changing, not whether or not the GOP will turn out it’s base.
Depending on the Presidential race it’s iffy whether that base will turn out. It’s not just about who the candidates are but if there’s an inevitability in the air that the GOP candidate is going to lose many in the GOP may stay home in November. That’s why this Texas GOP/Kim Brimer strategy for 2008 seems like it will be a boon for Democrats. If that’s all they have left in their playbook then they’re in trouble. First what’s their strategy going to be if Hillary doesn’t get the nomination? And if the GOP nominates someone that doesn’t inspire the base and keeps them at home, then they’re in real trouble. Or if they nominate someone that the base likes but Independents don’t like then it may turn them out to vote against the GOP candidates in Texas.
Democrats will be putting strong choices up and down the ballots in 2008 and that’s what will determine whether there will be change. The Democrats have an opportunity to take back the Texas House in 2008, and will at least, gain more ground. The US Senate race in Texas featuring Rick Noriega against John Cornyn will offer a clear choice. Clay Robison’s latest points that out.
Noriega already is getting some media mileage from his “boots on the ground” deployment to Afghanistan, which not-so-subtly contrasts his military experience with Cornyn’s lack of the same.
Although candidates for public office should be judged on more than military credentials, the contrast is interesting in light of growing public unhappiness over the war in Iraq.
Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been a strong supporter of President Bush’s Iraq policy. He believes American troops have made Iraq a safer place and have improved the chances for democracy in that country. He supports a gradual, but not forced, troop withdrawal.
Noriega â€” as a Senate hopeful, not as a National Guard officer â€” is challenging the commander in chief.
“We need to bring our men and women home,” he said. “We are in the crossfire of a civil war, (and) one more drop of our soldiers’ blood is not going to change the outcome.”
The differences between Noriega and Cornyn is not just about the war. They differ as far as children’s health care, kitchen table issues (cost of college, health care, and gas), civil rights/spying on US citizens, immigration, etc..
In Williamson County there will be choice on the ballot in 2008. The GOP’s biggest problem will be defending it’s record of incompetence and bad governance to Independent voters. Whether it’s a wasteful war (in blood and treasure), record deficits, toll roads, unaccountable government, or imprisoning children it’s not a good one. If the upcoming election is about the issues, and the Democrats need to make sure it is, then the GOP is in trouble no matter what it’s base does.
Turned on the TV this morning and noticed a blue screen with a scrolling message directing the consumer to the Georgetown Suddenlink office to pick up a antenna so we could pick up theÂ KXAN signal over the air.Â Link to Suddenlink message here, notice comments are turned off.Â Why the consumer is the one that has to pay in our “free market” society is beyond me.Â My only choice is to step back t0 50 year old technology and go retrieve an antenna at a time and place that is less than convenient, so I can watch my local NBC affiliate.Â With the recent FCC vote allowing more media consolidation, EOW fears that this type of take-it-out-on-the-consumer negotiation will be very common in the future.Â I sure wish we had state representation that cared.
Needless to say when two corporations fight the consumer is the one who pays.Â Here’s the AAS story from Saturday on the topic.
AAS has the story, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Read more from Sal, McBlogger, and Burka.
EOW will have more to say about the future of TxDOT at a later date.
As we’ve already reported, Lt. Col. Rick Noriega will speak at the Brushy Creek Community Center Friday. Next to President of the United States, the race for Senator from Texas is the highest office we’re going to be deciding on November 4, 2008. Bringing the top Democrat in the race to Williamson county is an accomplishment by the county party that demonstrates how far we’ve come since 2006.
The rare sighting of a 2006 statewide candidate in Williamson county was evidence of the perceived lack of support available here. But resurgence of the Democratic party in Williamson county was indicated by the very close finishes in the Texas House district 52 and county commission precinct 4 races. No county in the state of Texas produced a greater increase in votes for the Democratic candidate for Governor in the 2006 election versus 2002.
Chris Bell was more popular than Rick Perry in 27 of the county’s 92 precincts. That is 26 more precincts that had previously gone Democratic.
Republicans are quick to point out that were it not for the two Independent candidates in the 2006 gubernatorial race, Perry would have captured more votes. There are two problems with this flawed thinking. How much confidence does it demonstrate for Republicans to fall back to the argument that had voters been given fewer choices, they would have settled for Governor 39 percent? Also, it is not entirely clear that the independent candidates didn’t siphon more votes away from Bell than Perry.
What is clear is that the countywide Democratic performance is at its highest point in ten years. Coupled with the rapid demographic changes brought about by the county’s prolonged explosive growth, you have the makings of a major Democratic shift taking place.
As Thursday’s deadline for candidate filings approaches, Democrats now have challengers for every major office: starting with Rick Noriega for Senate, Diana Maldonado for Texas House district 52, Leonard Surratt for Texas House district 20 and Brian Ruiz for Congressional district 31; Democrats will challenge for county commission precincts 1 and 3 and county attorney.
All the Democratic candidates will join the Williamson County Democratic Party Friday night in Brushy Creek to kick off what promises to be one of the most exciting political seasons in recent memory.
- If you’ve been waiting for Democrats to rise up for the 95 percent of Americans who are worse off under corrupt and self-serving Republican policies,
- if you’ve had your fill of your tax dollars funneling into the pockets of Republican campaign donors,
- if you are worried about the Trans-Texas Corridor condemning and paving over your family’s land,
- if you’re unable to afford medical insurance and dread the sound of your children’s cough,
- if you’re working a second job to be able to pay $3 per gallon for gas and 17 cents a mile for tolls,
- if your son or daughter is in Iraq on an extended tour of duty,
- if the dream of affording college for your kids is fading,
then join us Friday night, 7 pm, at the Brushy Creek Community Center.
The Eye On Williamson fundraising page over at ActBlue is up. Please visit and consider supporting the Democrats who are working to turn Williamson County blue. At the top of the page, we have Diana Maldonado, whose end-of-year contributions will be matched by Annie’s List.
The Georgetown city council recently voted unanimously to consider a proposal in early January that will create a new city ordinance that would require contractors seeking work from the city to prove all their employees are legal US citizens.
The City of Georgetown is taking new steps to crack down on illegal immigration.
The council voted unanimously to have staff write a proposal for a new city ordinance that would require contractors to prove their employees are in this country legally.
That’s how Georgetown council member Keith Brainard came up with the idea to create an ordinance ensuring anyone working for the city in any manner, including sub-contracted, is a legal immigrant.
They’re attempting to crack down on illegal immigrants not the actual immigration. But their attempt is to actually punish a few companies that may be hiring illegal immigrants that are contracting with the city. A story from KLBJ has more on this and some words from a Williamson County businessman who thinks it’s a good idea.
Councilman Keith Brainard is asking city staff to find a way to require all city contractors to operate the way Hill’s company does and submit proof the people working for them are authorized to work in the United States. Brainard says he is not concerned with one particular contract or company, but, in general, would like to see, â€œa city policy that would pertain to all city contractsâ€. He says the cityâ€™s legal staff have not indicated to him how that could be accomplished, or if it can be accomplished. He says it is possible that the requirement will become a â€œâ€™to the extent possibleâ€™ kind of thing, but I do feel the city has an obligation to make an effort.â€
Hill says he supports Councilman Brainardâ€™s motion , because he feels the move would result in a more even playing field between his business and competitors he says who do not follow federal laws when it comes to hiring or compensation. He says he believes that while it was difficult in years past for employers to verify their employeeâ€™s identification or documents, the process has now been streamlined. â€œItâ€™s not difficult to do at all,â€ says Hill, but adds, â€œItâ€™s extra paperwork, it takes extra time and it does take diligence.â€
Sounds like a new position on the payroll to me. These types of ordinances which have been tried all over the country are being struck down one after another, U.S. Courts Strike Down Immigration Ordinances.
In ruling against the ordinance, U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay of the Northern District of Texas, said that “only the federal government may determine whether an individual is legally in the United States.”
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said that the court rulings against local immigration ordinances will likely continue because the measures conflict with federal law and raise Constitutional questions.
In addition, he said judges are leery of allowing hundreds of little immigration laws around the country.
As far as the test case of Hazleton, he added, “one would have to bet against Hazleton prevailing in the litigation. The town is bucking decades of precedent.”
In addition to a patchwork of local ordinances across the country, more than 1,400 pieces of legislation related to immigrants and immigration have been introduced in state houses, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
Why the city of Georgetown is making on this essentially pointless attempt, that would most certainly be struck down by the federal courts, leaves political pandering as a likely explanation. I hear the Mayor’s not running for reelection. Taylor resident and local LULAC President Jose Orta had released this statement:
It has come to our attention that the Georgetown City Council will vote on January 8th to consider enacting a new Hazleton style city ordinance that will require contractors and subcontractors to prove their employees are in this country legally.
LULAC Council 4721 requests that the Georgetown City Council table the creation of any anti-immigrant ordinance. Georgetownâ€™s anti-immigrant ordinance is simply not needed. Immigration law is a matter reserved for the U.S. Congress and federal law. In fact, in 1986 Congress enacted sweeping legislation that makes it unlawful for businesses to employ illegal immigrants and expressly pre-empts states and localities from imposing their own civil or criminal penalties.
The ordinance that is being contemplated is fueled by a mixture of misinformation and fear, if enacted, it will foster discrimination and racial profiling in Georgetown. This ill conceived ordinance will create opportunities to discriminate against anyone who simply looks like he or she might be an undocumented worker, citizen and non-citizen alike.
Other states and municipalities across the country have unsuccessfully attempted to adopt similarly divisive, unnecessary and illegal measures. Courtâ€™s across this country have found Hazelton type ordinances unconstitutional because it encroaches on federal immigration powers, fails to provide procedural protection to people before they are fired and violates federal civil rights laws. The Supreme Court has already determined it was the exclusive province of the federal government to determine whether a person is in the United States lawfully or not.
Our Council urges the Georgetown City Council to avoid spending taxpayer dollars on an ordinance that will simply produce legal challenges that will burden the local taxpayer.
Jose Orta,President LULAC Council 4721
A waste of time and money, plain and simple.
“Williamson County Democratic Party”
Brian Ruiz for U.S. Congress., District 31
Diana Maldonado for Texas House Rep., District 52
Leonard Surratt for Texas House Rep., District 20
Mike Grimes for County Commissioner Precinct 1
Jamie Lynn for County Attorney
January 4th, 2008
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
$10.00 donation per person
Spaghetti Dinner will be provided.
Elm/Maple Meeting Room
Brushy Creek Community Center
16318 Great Oaks Drive
Round Rock, TX 78681
RSVP by January 2nd, 2008
or call 512-671-8683 (VOTE)
Why don’t more people vote? Seems to be an often asked question. Over the recent past most political pundits, as well as politicians on the right, try to blame it on the polarized, “hyperpartisan” some say, political climate. It’s usually done in an attempt to marginalize those on the left. Others think it’s because a vast vital center of the citizenry is “turned off” by this “so-called” partisan bickering. Don’t buy it.
After going through quite a bit of recent blog flurry created by an article in Newsweek written by Evan Smith, The Closing Of The American Mind, EOW’s come to a different determination. Voters don’t show up when exactly the opposite happens.Â That is, when there’s no clear choice between the candidates. In Smith’s article he purports that all the partisan bickering is turning off voters and lowering turnout:
Aside from an uptick in the 2004 presidential election, voter turnout has drifted downward since its modern peak in 1960 (from 63 percent to the low 50s), despite much easier rules on voter registration and expensive efforts to get out voters, writes Thomas Patterson, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of “The Vanishing Voter.” For all the press hoopla over the coming presidential primaries, turnout rates are likely to dip way below 30 percent, he predicts.
That would be startling if it was true, but it’s not. As Kos shows the exact opposite has been happening in the last several election cycles.
First of all, a truly partisan media didn’t come into being until the late 80s. Rush Limbaugh’s syndicated show debuted in 1988. Fox News Channel came on the scene in 1996.
It’s true that in 1960, 63 percent voted. But by 1988, when Rush came on the scene, it was already down to 50.11%.
Then what happened? In 1992, turnout was UP, to 55.09%. 1996 was a bad year, as Bill Clinton’s obvious reelection trajectory kept people home — 49.08%. In 2000, it was up to 51.31%, and then, with the rise of PROGRESSIVE partisan media — the blogs and Air America — turnout was UP again in 2004 to 56.69%.
So in other words, the last election in which this nation lacked a partisan media was 1988, and turnout was 50.11% By 2004, with a strong conservative partisan media, and with a nascent progressive partisan media, it was at 56.69%. In 2008, we can gauge how the trends continue given the maturation of our media. In any case, that hardly justifies the thesis in the Newsweek piece linked above. In fact, it kind of shatters it.
After reading through many different opinions and studies (see below) on the topic of voter apathy it becomes clear that the main reason voters don’t turn out in the numbers they once did is because, by and large, the issues they are most interested in hearing about are not being addressed. In effect both candidates have almost the same platforms, with slight variations, offering the voters little if any choice between the two candidates.
As voter turnout decreases the mushy, wishy-washy, center becomes more vital. Those who are not having their issues addressed are, generally speaking, those toward the lower end of the economic scale. If all these potential voters see are two candidates talking about income tax cuts that they don’t make enough income to qualify for then why should they go vote? Then when the candidates finish, multiple pundits who can qualify for the tax cut, debate that same point. Again, why vote?
If a voter can’t afford health insurance and the only thing the two candidates are battling over is how high the tax incentive to buy health insurance should be, why should that person who can’t even afford to buy insurance, much less earn enough to get a tax incentive to buy it go vote? Now if we have one person saying they’re for a tax incentive and another candidate saying they’re for single-payer universal health care for all, that might be something worth going to vote for. Without that clear choice between candidates voter apathy increases and turnout decreases.
Open Left, in their critique of Thomas’ article, Moderately Lobotomized: The Closing Of The American Pundit’s Mind, has much more on how giving voters a choice determines whether more voters turnout.
Since 1952, the National Election Survey has tracked whether or not voters feel there are important differences between the two major parties. In the four presidential election years since 1992, by an average margin of 66% to 31%, national sentiment has overwhelmingly concluded that there are important differences. Records were set on this question in both 1996 and 2000, but in 2004 that sentiment reached by far its highest levels ever, when the nation concluded that there are important differences between the two major parties by a count of 76%–20%. By comparison, in the five presidential elections from 1972 to 1988, the average national score on this question was 55%–37% in favor of there being important differences. It is pretty safe to assume that the increasing belief that there are major differences between the two parties is the result of increased “polarization” of the two parties, a phenomenon often bemoaned by the Lieber-punditry nationwide.
In, in keeping with the thought experiment in the first paragraph of this article, what frequently goes unnoticed by these same Lieber-pundits is that increasing polarization and belief that there are important differences between the two parties has also resulted in an increase in voter turnout. In the four Presidential elections from 1992 to 2004, average voter turnout among the Voting Eligible Population was 57.1%. In the five previous Presidential elections, from 1972 to 1988, average turnout among the Voting Eligible Population was 55.4%. Polarization has resulted in an increased belief that there are important differences between the two parties, which has in turn resulted in an increase in voter turnout. This feels pretty obvious to me, since people are more likely to vote in elections where they feel important differences are at stake rest than in elections where they do not feel important differences rest on the outcome. For partially lobotomized pundits, however, this rather obvious trend is difficult to spot.
Therefore it makes sense that if voters are given a clear choice between the two candidates the higher the voter turnout will be. (Which probably has something to do with Democratic support being so low in Williamson County. Not having Democratic choices on the ballot just drives down Democratic turnout.) George Lakoff reminds us that the “center” doesn’t exist and when the Democrats try and play to it they are seen as being inconsistent in their values:
The losing strategy is to move to the right, to assume with Republicans that American values are mainly conservative and that the Democratic Party has to move away from its base and adopt conservative values. When you do that, you help activate conservative values in people’s brains (thus helping the other side), you offend your base (thus hurting yourself), and you give the impression that you are expressing no consistent set of values, which is true! Why should the American people trust somebody who does not have clear values, and who may be trying to deceive them about the values he and his party’s base hold?
And Paul Krugman (via McBlogger) shows us how it used to be done successfully:
I like to remind people who long for bipartisanship that FDR’s drive to create Social Security was as divisive as Bush’s attempt to dismantle it. And we got Social Security because FDR wasn’t afraid of division. In his great Madison Square Garden speech (Read and listen here), he declared of the forces of “organized money”: “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for meâ€”and I welcome their hatred.”
So, here’s my worry: Democrats, with the encouragement of people in the news media who seek bipartisanship for its own sake, may fall into the trap of trying to be anti-Bushesâ€”of trying to transcend partisanship, seeking some middle ground between the parties.
That middle ground doesn’t existâ€”and if Democrats try to find it, they’ll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America’s direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone.
That worries me too and it’s what this whole post is about. If Democrats don’t define themselves as different from Republicans they will squander the opportunity to make huge gains in the next several elections cycles. Don’t believeit?Â Then check out what this PEW research poll from earlier this year found.
The Republican Party appears to be paying a steep price for growing dissatisfaction with conditions in the country. However, while Democrats have clearly benefited from declining support for the GOP since 2002, these gains have come almost by default. While public perceptions of the Republican Party have tumbled, evaluations of the Democratic Party have not improved substantially in recent years, and the Democratic gains in party identification are in the form of a softer â€œleaningâ€ among independents rather than in the share who think of themselves as Democrats.
In other words recent Democratic gains have more to do with the Republican’s incompetence and inability to govern rather than any bold new strategy or policy initiative of the Democrats.Â And if they don’t capitalize this opportunity soon it will be gone.
Social Security was not created with a near 50/50 bipartisan feel good Congress. Democrats had massive majorities in both Houses of Congress. For Democrats to achieve what the American people overwhelmingly desire in a health care plan it will not come from the middle – making a deal with insurance corporations. It must be done by offering the American people a choice that is completely different from what we currently have, not a compromise. Then it will be done. When offered that choice, framed with American values, the American people will vote in that party which will make it happen. In an overwhelmingly partisan fashion. It happened before, our political ancestors did it, and we’ll do it again. Let’s just hope and work to make sureÂ it doesn’t take another great depression for this change to occur.
[More reference material used to write this post: The "vital center", polarization, there is no center (see Lakoff, Krugman above), polarization is the cause of lower voter turnout, polarization has actually caused turnout to rise over the last several elections (see Kos and Open Left post above), polarization is caused by income inequality and immigration.]
From Burnt Orange Report:
Annie’s List has just made $15,000 in matching funds available for contributions made to Democratic Legislative candidate Diana Maldonado before the end of the year.
Maldonado is the Democratic candidate for House district 52, the seat being vacated by Mike Krusee. Republicans are going to have a difficult time holding onto this seat, and for a limited time, your contributions will make it twice as hard.
Head over to Maldonado’s campaign site right now and help her collect every penny of this match pledge.
(Via Sirota), C-SPAN Favors Conservative Think Tanks 3-to-1 Over Left-of-Center, Study Finds. From the full report [.PDF]:
According to its mission statement, the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network (CSPAN) was created to provide its audience with â€œa balanced presentation of points of viewâ€ concerning public policy. However, a look at its coverage of the countryâ€™s top think tanks in 2006 suggests that it failed to achieve this goal. A survey of C-SPAN coverage of public events, interviews, panels and speeches featuring the countryâ€™s top think tanks in 2006 reveals a strong imbalance towards think tanks that represent conservative points of view, an imbalance that â€” according to recent polling data â€” is at odds with the opinions of most Americans on a wide range of policy issues.
They recommend that if C-SPAN is going to keep this up they “might want to adopt a more effective guidelines” since it’s mission page states they were created to provide it’s audience with “a balanced presentation of points of view”.
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