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.