Here’s an interesting post from Colin County’s Democratic Blog News, The Texas Democratic Party Needs A New Direction. Below are a few excerpts with comments after.
Today, the Texas Democratic Party finds itself in a state of near disarray – deserted by erstwhile conservative Democrats, unable to field new candidates who can win elections, and unable to attract donations to fund party operations.
The Democrat party’s last high profile candidate, Bill White, a conservative and the former mayor of Houston, ran unsuccessfully for governor of Texas in 2010. White lost to the conservative Republican incumbent, Rick Perry by a wide margin of 55 to 42 percent. Incumbent conservatives, like [State Rep. Aaron] Peña continue to abandon the party and it increasingly struggles to attract new candidates to run under the Democratic brand. The Party struggles to attract donations as demonstrated by the treasurer’s report to the State Democratic Executive Committee this month that the party has a negative balance of ($27,236) for the quarter.
Perhaps the idea that the party’s voter base, outside of Austin, is pervasively very conservative – an idea still active espoused by long time Democratic political strategists – is no longer right. Perhaps the idea that the party and it’s candidates must continue to subscribe to conservative policy strategies, shunning all progressive/liberal policy positions, is a strategy that no longer works – even in Texas.
It is, perhaps, time for party leaders to seriously consider whether the party finds itself struggling to raise money and attract new candidates, not because it’s not conservative enough, but because the party and its candidates remain too stubbornly stuck in the party’s southern conservative past. [Emphasis added]
It is definitely time for the Texas Democratic Party to discuss within its ranks the need for the party to engage in a conversation with its base constituencies to understand how to rebuild the party from the grassroots.
All of that sounds pretty much right. One quibble is that the party is not so much in disarray, as irrelevant and heading towards obsolescence. Not that that’s better. But certainly it is long past time for Texas Democrats to shift away from running as bidness friendly, tax cutting, gument haters that aren’t Republicans.
Critics argue that the Texas Democratic Party mindset remains stuck in its southern conservative past, often neglecting minority constituencies, sometimes taking Latino support for granted, and dismissing its base progressive/liberal constituencies out-of-hand. Some critics argue that in today’s highly polarized political environment conservative voters will always support the conservative Republican over a conservative Democrat, and progressive/liberal Democratic voters will not vote for conservative Democrats.
Such criticisms form part of a larger critique attributing the Democratic Party’s decline over the past two decades to the party’s overconfidence, failure to fully comprehend the changing demographic and political dynamics in Texas, and, particularly, failure to listen to the grassroots Democrats of today.
The a Texas Democratic Party, once divided into small liberal and large conservative factions, has shed most of its old southern conservative faction to the Republican Party. Today, minority and progressive/liberal Texans predominately make up the active base of the Texas Democratic Party. That modern base of constituencies seems reluctant to fund or work for or vote for a Democratic Party that appears to dismiss their interests in favor of a conservative policy agenda.
The ultimate questions that need to be answered are what needs to happen to make Democrats competitive again in Texas? It would certainly seem that no longer catering to conservative Demcrats, and doing everything to create a new coalition, loosely based on what a recent CAP report referred to as, “the rising electorate of communities of color, the Millennial generation, professionals, single women, and seculars”. While still including traditional liberal and progressive groups, that don’t fit into those categories.
But this current time should be seen as an opportunity to create a new Democratic Party in Texas. The Democratic Party that once ruled Texas, is no longer, if anyone still thinks that please disavow yourself, and anyone you know of that notion. The only way that it can be rebuilt is by Texans who believe that a party should fight for quality public education, civil rights for all, economic fairness, good jobs that pay a fair wage, health care as a right, and the survival of Social Security, just to name a few.
This is a process, and will not happen overnight. The first thing we need are people to run for office that believe in these values and will fight for them.