So what now?

Texas Democrats got squashed yesterday.

We Texas Democrats are famous for our circular firing squads. We can, usually do, and damn well will complain about this Democrat or that Democrat being an idiot, and they’re responsible, and throw the bum out, and they suck. But honestly, how would that explain the other 49 states worth of carnage?

That Democrats were squashed wasn’t a Texas phenomenon. It happened across the country. It was the biggest election for Republicans in decades. State legislatures everywhere fell to Republicans.

Fact is, in a defeat this huge, it wouldn’t have mattered what you did, as a candidate, a state party, a local coordinated effort. When people read “Kirk England” on their ballot, they internalized “Nancy Pelosi.” When Abel Herrero lost, voters believed they were voting against Obama. That’s what happens when national leadership charges up San Juan hill, only to look behind them and discover that the troops didn’t follow.

For remaining Democratic state legislators, the only comfort available, and the only gain to be made, is in standing your ground. What is a sure thing is that the current level of Republican support in Texas isn’t sustainable. It will certainly not be sustainable after a Republican legislature and Governor get done cutting $25 billion from the budget without a revenue bill. The cuts will hurt Texans badly – it’s not what they signed up for when they voted for those Republicans – they just wanted to send a message to Washington.

If the remaining Democrats did nothing right, Democrats would gain. If the remaining Democrats fight to protect their constituents, and message their efforts well, Democrats will gain bigger.

The Republicans have an additional challenge – redistricting. They can’t protect them all, there aren’t enough reliable Republican voters in Texas to draw into that many districts. Their first order of business will be to figure out who to throw over the side. Their caucuses will get ugly in a hurry.

Republicans made historic gains only two years after suffering historic losses. Voters across America aren’t attracted to either political Party in current-day politics – they’re merely repelled by the latest thing that the Party in power does.

Democrats in Texas should remain constructive, but they should be very clear who they answer to: the constituents packed into their districts back in 2001, who are about to be the biggest victims of historic budget cuts in the history of the state.

Good luck governing, Republicans. You’re going to need it.



10 Responses to So what now?

  1. SteveNTexas November 3, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Not so sure you are correct about the GOP not being able to sustain itself in Texas. The State Board of Education which embarrassed the state by re-writing history is a red flag to moderate or progressive people who might want to move here. So is Rick Perry.

    Voters should have known the Texas budget shortfall was caused by a GOP Gov, a GOP Senate and a GOP State House but who did they blame? Nancy Pelosi.

    Perry was able to win without debating or appearing before news editorial boards.

    I have an independent perspective but believe you are dreaming.

  2. Mean Rachel November 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    Who DO the Democrats answer to? Or rather, who have they been answering to?

  3. Credentials November 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    “Not so sure you are correct about the GOP not being able to sustain itself in Texas.”

    Yeah, I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. Read his post again. He says the GOP will be unable to sustain itself AT THE CURRENT LEVEL. I think he’s predicting a replay of what’s been happening since 2002.

    Republicans got an 88-seat majority in the Texas House that year only to lose it piece by piece over the next 10.

    They were almost completely eroded going into yesterday’s elections. Sounds like Harold’s figuring it’ll happen again.

    And what’s a common denominator? They have to deal with a huge budget shortfall – again – right after sweeping the elections. And when that happened in 2003, tons of timbers fell because of the choices they made (removing impoverished kids from health programs, anyone?!).

    Remember that Obama didn’t get on the ticket until 2008. The six years leading up to that was all voters.

    I don’t think he’s dreaming at all. I think he’s doing what smart people do all the time – and looking at history to give us a clue of what will happen in the future.

    What makes you think this time around is going to be any different?

  4. Anonymous November 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    I’m old enough to know that it feels like 1994 all over again only worse.

    At that time you said that 1996 was a long time in the future and it was possible for Clinton be reelected. What do you think about Obama in 2012?

    The deficit is probably way more than $25B.

    However, Combs and Perry will lie about that until the state can’t cash checks after the 2012 election. I’m saying right now, do not believe any Combs/Perry numbers about the revenue estimate.

  5. FUBAR November 3, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    Anonymous: thanks for remembering something I said 16 years ago that didn’t turn out to be dumb. I frankly don’t remember saying it, but I have a strict rule against interrupting anybody while they’re pointing out that I wasn’t wrong.

    As for President Obama, I honestly don’t know what to think, except that I do believe that the White House has a long history of having occupants (of both political parties) who are smart enough to adjust to political realities, and after some setbacks recover enough to achieve substantial policy and political goals. So in that sense, I’m optimistic that Obama will learn from this, make adjustments, and regain the support of the American people in time to be re-elected. So yes, I guess it is possible for Obama to be re-elected, and I would link that possibility directly to my hope that the President learns from the election results from yesterday.

    …and if I’m wrong about that, I hope nobody remembers I said it 16 years from now.

    Thanks for your comment.

  6. SteveNTexas November 3, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    Credentials – Even though I didn’t copy and paste the entire sentence I am aware about the “at current levels” portion.

    Yes in Texas the GOP can probably maintain themselves at current levels. There is an endless supply of rednecks- unfortunately they breed and combined with the other factors I already mentioned there is little reason to be sanguine. There were some close races that Dems could win back but I see no quick end to GOP Rule.

    An exception would be a major scandal and it would have to be major. Say Perry is caught having sex with animals and using state funds supplied by the legislature. That might do it – but only if it happened after the GOP Primary.

  7. Tim November 4, 2010 at 1:20 am #

    It’s not even that. If you look at the numbers it’s not that the Republicans turned out in force, it’s that the Democrats didn’t. The Republicans just turned out the same folks they always do. It was a dispirited Democratic party not showing up that lost the election.

  8. Alistair H. Richards November 4, 2010 at 1:32 am #

    Republicans can sustain themselves at that level.

    2010 is very different from 2002. 2002 it was all about security, 2010 is about the economy and spending.

    Before 2002, only developing countries – primarily Latin American countries – fell into default. But now, we are seeing OECD countries on the brink, most notably Greece. The word in Europe is “austerity.” Even France is adjusting. In England, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, holding hands, will be enacting large cuts. Those winds will or have arrived on American shore.

    Budget cuts this go around will be seen in a much different light. We have 9 percent unemployment, something that was unthinkable in 2002, and an economy where major players had to be bailed out. People know all these things have costs. Families are cutting back, and they are expecting no less in government.

    Yes, bailouts and 9 unemployment are not caused or resolved by the Texas Legislature, but the mood of austerity is here, which did not exist in 2003.

  9. Cyrus November 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    No offense, Harold, but this is weak sauce.
    Another magic millionaire graces us with his presence, gets a bunch of friends behind him, and manages to barely even bring out the hardened Democratic base.
    We had 62 seats after 2002. How many do we have today? Remind us what we’ve accomplished in the last 8 years. Knocked a couple of points off of Rick Perry’s margin?

    The Texas Democratic Party once again proved that it doesn’t really exist except as a marginal tool for a few attorneys who are defending their own turf.

    Who do we represent? What do we have to offer them? Christ, Republicans ran campaigns against Democrats using fear of Medicare cuts to win over seniors (i.e., certain voters). We’re through the looking glass now. We’ll have trouble justifying our existence for the next 2 years. But by all means, yes, let’s just wait and hope the GOP shoots itself in the foot again – and maybe we can have another 2006, when Republicans didn’t turn out and we still lost.

    16 years isn’t a “bad climate” or whatever we’re using to shrug off our latest catastrophic failure. 16 years is geologic-scale time in politics. How many more eons should we continue to hope the stars will just align for us? When do we decide to take our future into our own hands?

  10. FUBAR November 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Cyrus, until you can explain losses in the other 49 states from within your thesis, your points, accurate or not, are off-topic entirely…as I said from the start in my post.

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