Texas: Not ready for a progressive woman Governor

Texas: Not ready for a progressive woman Governor November 5, 2014

During the election coverage and Republican acceptance speeches there was a real element of attributing the takeover of Congress to President Obama even though he wasn’t on the ballot. There are already congressmen who pledge to prosecute him for abusing executive orders even though he issued less of these than George W. Bush. As a black president, he is a very easy scapegoat for Republicans to bash. In fact, a third of Louisiana Republicans, blame him for the government response to Katrina, even though G.W. Bush was president at the time. Why don’t they blame Bush? He is given no credit for gains in employment and the economy, scapegoated for things he didn’t do. America doesn’t appear to be ready for a black president.

For the same reasons, I don’t believe that Texas is ready for a progressive woman to be Governor. Her opponent Greg Abbott ran a campaign of publicly shaming her for attending Harvard and allowing her then husband to be the primary caregiver of her children after he filed for divorce.

No one would ever have thought to criticize a man’s private career and family decisions on their way to success  in this way. There is a well established history of men’s political careers surviving adultery allegations and worse.  Newt Gingrich’s wife put him through college, and he left her for his mistress when she had cancer.  He had no significant political fallout from this. The shaming of Davis for her private career decisions that men commonly make worked well here in Texas. Despite Davis being well known for heroically filibustering draconian abortion over-regulation, Abbott got the majority of the women’s vote.

Had Davis gotten more progressive turnout and won; she would have then been faced with an obstructionist legislature. Much like Obama’s problems with Republicans in Congress refusing to work with him. It is remarkably easier to punch down on minorities from established positions in the dominant white male hierarchy. Unfortunately, it wins points and plays on deeply rooted biases like with Republicans wanting to believe that Obama was responsible for Katrina.

She quoted Teddy Roosevelt, ""It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming"
She quoted Teddy Roosevelt, “”It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming”

Aron and I were there for Davis’s concession speech, and I couldn’t stop the tears streaming down my cheeks as she urged us to support Abbott. After everything he did to her in the campaign, and everything he has already done and will do to hurt Texas. Even though I knew going in that most likely she would lose, there is a knot in my stomach that I don’t want to digest. Four more years of regressive policies punching down on women and minorities with heavy handed immigration and abortion laws. And a majority of the people here in Texas will say Amen! to that.

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  • Francisco Bacopa

    Somehow Texas was ready enough for a progressive woman governor in 1990, and in 1924. What the hell happened?

    Abbot is a total sleezebucket, but Dan Patrick is the one one who scares the shit out of me.

    • magistramarla

      Francisco,

      I live in Texas, and Dan Patrick scares the shit out of me too.

      I’ve never been deeply involved in politics until this election. I couldn’t do much beyond contributing money, since I’m disabled and I have a voice issue that kept me from manning the phones. We did offer our extra room to one of the Wendy Davis workers and helped to keep him going for the past month.

      I’m now truly worried about the future here in Texas for the poor, the disabled, the recent immigrants, the LGBT community, women and the environment.

      My husband and I think that this state is going to get unbearable, so we’re making plans to sell our house and leave.

  • Paranoid Dominican

    Which midterm election is going to be the one where the Democrats realize that it’s worth getting out? Which will be the one when they realize that you can’t leave the gates to government unguarded every other election? Which will be the one when the DNC realizes that you send the money out to every candidate in every state like Howard Dean did to win in 06 and 08, rather than leaving it in DC to pay off idiot consultants who tell candidates to run from the party’s president instead of campaigning on their strengths? Every Dem Senate candidate who ran from Obama’s policies lost. Which election will be the one where they know better than to shoot themselves in the foot again? I thought they’d know better by now.

  • Kevin Kehres

    @2 Paranoid Dominican

    Agreed. It’s also high time to go on the offensive. Democrats have been playing defense since Carter. Fighting AGAINST Republican “ideas” instead of FOR progressive policies and sane government. For crying out loud, the whole Tea Party is basically an anti-tax movement from people who got Ds in 8th grade American History. The founding fathers weren’t against taxation…they were against taxation without representation.

    The Republicans have owned the frame for too long. But it’s not just as easy as voting in the next election. You have to do the dirty work in the trenches today.

    Finding candidates on the very local level who will fight to give the little guy a fair shake against the monied interests is the first step. And to stand up and say, “hey, that rich guy can afford one less gold-plated yacht so that 500 people can put food on the table.”

    But until the Dems start to stand for something, it’s going to be the same-old same-old.

    • Paranoid Dominican

      @Kevin – Agreed on everything you said. Also, if you’re wanting to support a third party, do so from the bottom up. You need Green mayors before you get Green state legislators, you need Green state legislators before you get Green governors, you need Green governors before you get Green senators, and you need Green senators before you get a Green president. If you haven’t got that yet, put in for that tomorrow and vote Dem today for the sake of maintenance. You have to play the long game – the guys who won this week did.

  • besomyka

    I live in Austin and was a Neighborhood Team Leader for Battleground Texas. I helped organize the Southern portion of Travis County. I’m reading the comments here, the lamentations, and I feel ‘ya. I’ve been there. That was me in 2010.

    I worked extremely hard this election cycle, and I only had one difficulty in organizing: we had so few volunteers that even on the last weekend of early voting (the only weekend, now), we had our 2 hosts, two organizers, one paid Field Organizer from BGTX that had split responsibilities, and 1-2 proper (and rock-star!) volunteers. We were never able to get the critical mass of reliable volunteers to do the needed work. It was frustrating, but I could see what effort we were able to put in did make a difference.

    We had several precincts to target, we were able to hit only 3 of them because we lacked the human power to get to them. In the precincts where we were able to talk to voters, turnout increased 1.5-6%, and Wendy won by a 6-6.5% wider margin than Bill White in 2010. Where we didn’t, things went backwards.

    If you think the passage of time will let people ‘see the light’, then you’re sadly mistaken. Change does not happen on it’s own, it only happens when people FORCE things to change. There is no one else here that will do it but us. There is no one that will make that change for you. If you want it, you have to make it happen.

    So this is what I have to say: if you’re a passionate voter but you’re not volunteering yet, make the change in your life and help me change our communities in Texas.

    Help me.

    Volunteer.

    • Aron and me blockwalked here in Dallas in 100 degree weather. Maybe 3 people opened the door for me. It was an elderly neighborhood, and the other 2 weren’t interested.

      • besomyka

        Thank you for doing that! That was probably the hardest thing to do all year and I suspect the benefit of what you were doing wasn’t as clear as it could have been. If you weren’t able to take advantage of your efforts, someone else probably did.

        Where I was, the response rate (ie: how many people answered the door), was streaky but averaged out between 20-25% per packet. Our packets here were about 70-80 doors for two people. So if you were able to split it, you’d probably talk to about 10 people. The response rate was lower early on and higher in October as we narrowed our focus down to only our supporters.

        It sounds like you walked in the summer sometime when we were doing either entirely persuasion targeting, or a combination of persuasion and turnout. The purpose behind the scenes, beyond the obvious goal of talking to voters, was to clean up our voter files. The data we started with was not good. We had to collect data on what we had so that we could so proper searches though it for better lists. As an organization, we needed the data solid by October. That means early on (May of this year on) we were doing prospective calls, and targeting what we though were persuadable voters.

        As we got closer to the election, we had cleaned up the data and we also shifted from persuasion to GOTV which meant only talking to our supporters. By November 1, we had it down to a multi-tier ranking that allowed us to prioritize specific neighborhoods which maximized the density of our supporters in order to make the best use of our volunteers time. My team, with so few volunteers, got through our tier 4 (or 7).

        It’s hard work, particularly in the Texas summer. When you talk to about 10 people per afternoon, and only 1-2 of those become voters, it can feel impossible. The key is having it distributed both over a number of people, and over a period of time. BGTX had 34k volunteers, but I’d bet many of those only participated between 1 and 4 times. If we want to gain 1 million voters, that means we need to talk to 7 million people face to face. That means we need to knock on 28 million doors. There were 24 weekends in which we canvassed before GOTV, so we would have needed to knock on 1.33 million doors every weekend. At 40 doors a piece, that means we needed those 34k volunteers showing up for a shift every weekend.

        There were ~950 events going on for GOTV. That means my event’s expected share would have been 35 people walking.

        We had 4.

        It’s hard to see because the task is so immense, but walking in the summer, even being turned away, was important. It allowed those of us who were able to walk during GOTV that much more effective. I spoke to ~100 people over the 4 days. One said they wouldn’t vote, one said they weren’t a supporter, everyone else either voted or said they were going to.

        I don’t think this is futile, but I do think it will take a lot of work: a year and a half of activist engagement with our neighbors. We have to create a community that’s engaged and not simply try to pick off a voter here and there.

        • Usernames! ☞ ♭

          besomyka, I hear ya! Thanks for what you did. It made a difference.

          It isn’t just knocking on the doors, but fielding candidates for ALL those open races. There’s no excuse for Dems to fail to post a challenger to every position on the ballot. Even if we have to recruit Socks the Cat to run against Timmy Teabagger for Pct 2 County Commissioner, we have to do it. Make them fight for every friggin seat!

  • Roxor128 .

    Well, now that the election is over, maybe you should try pushing for some electoral reform?

    1. Change the evaluation system from Plurality to Instant Run-off Voting. Australia made the switch back in the 1920s. What prompted it? The rise of what’s known as the National Party today, which split the conservative vote, losing a lot of conservative seats to Labor (yes, our pollies suck at spelling). IRV was implemented so that if there were multiple candidates the voters liked they could vote for their favourite and put other they agreed with high on the list without fear of splitting the vote and ending up with a candidate the majority didn’t want.

    2. Restrict the length of political campaigns to the six weeks immediately prior to the election, with a 3-day media blackout covering election day and the two days immediately beforehand so the voters can have some time to make up their minds.

    3. End the Gerrymandering by requiring the use of mathematics to draw up the districts, so there’s no intentional bias. One algorithm for doing so is called the Single Split Line Method. It’s very simple, so there shouldn’t be any complaints about it being too complicated for the politicians to understand.

    Now, I know Australia doesn’t use maths to draw up electorate boundaries. We have an independent commission to do the job, and they apparently do a very good one, given I have never heard anything about gerrymandering with regards to Australia. However, given how much of a train-wreck the US looks from down here, I don’t trust the politicians over there enough to set up an independent commission for anything, hence the suggestion for using mathematics to get the job done.

    By the way, is there any chance that Texas’ new Chief Idiot is related to Australia’s Chief Idiot? From what you’ve said about him, he sounds like he’s on the same order of stupidity to Tony Abbott.

  • Usernames! ☞ ♭

    One algorithm for doing so is called the Single Split Line Method. It’s very simple, so there shouldn’t be any complaints about it being too complicated for the politicians to understand.

    — Roxor128 . (#5)

    Your idea, while a good one, won’t work.

    Here’s why it won’t work:

    [x] Americans don’t do maths.

    [ ] Communism!

    [x] Change is scary

    [ ] It will lead to mass hysteria

    [x] Fox “News” will call it a plot by Obama to herd people into camps

    [ ] It costs too much to implement

    [ ] It would take too long to implement

    [x] The aristocracy will lose power, forever

    [x] Dey’ll turk err jurbs!

  • End the Gerrymandering by requiring the use of mathematics to draw up the districts, so there’s no intentional bias.

    OK, how do we elect the people in gerrymandering red states to do exactly that?

    • Roxor128 .

      You could try mentioning to them a particular problem with Gerrymandering: The fact that making the elections so safe results in ideological polarisation, which has the effect of changing the primaries so that to keep their job, they have to run with increasingly radical policies they don’t really believe in.

      Extra Credits did a video on viewing US political systems like game mechanics, which covers it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X2es__Wtuk

      • You mean the Democrats will have to run even more right of the ones who lost? Yeah, that is increasingly obvious

  • At least Wendy Davis ran on a liberal Democratic platform instead of running as “Republican-lite”

    Running that way in red states is a major factor behind the massive whupping suffered by the Dems. Next time, I hope they pick better principled candidates. Unfortunately, the loss of these unprincipled hacks will only encourage future candidates to run to the right of these losers.

    Thanks, Alison Grimes you really fought for that right.

    • Narf

      Running that way in red states is a major factor behind the massive whupping suffered by the Dems.

      Well, and the fact that it was a midterm election had a massive impact. Turnout during a midterm year is usually somewhere around 35%. The extremists always come out to the polls in much higher numbers. The mush-ball middle usually stays home, except for presidential years, and they’re the ones who would swing it against the extreme Republican nonsense.

      On the plus side, hopefully the swing voters will start to see Congress as being synonymous with the Republican party, by 2016. The population as a whole freaking hates Congress, and now that the Republicans are in control of both houses, maybe we can get another Democratic president in 2016. An actual liberal would be nice, this time around.

  • Chuck Brockmann

    Living in Texas and dealing with The Good Old Boys system is getting very tiresome! The thought of moving to Oregon is

    getting more and more attractive every year I reside here.

  • Numenaster

    Hi Chuck, I’m in Oregon. There are parts of our fine state that function something like Texas with legal marijuana, so choose carefully if you come here. The population centers in the Willamette Valley are where our liberal reputation comes from, but the eastern half of the state and much of the southwest still think of themselves as resource extraction economies and behave accordingly.

    • Narf

      Isn’t it something like Washington State? The coast is rather liberal, but once you get a hundred miles or so inland, into the more rural areas, you’re into the scary, faith-healing, Pentecostal-cult parts that are the majority of the state by landmass?