by Jon Mark Hogg
for the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, December 3, 2021
I am convinced that our obsession with state-wide races and big picture politics are what is killing the Democratic Party in rural Texas. For over thirty years we have told ourselves that if we just had the right candidate for Governor, or Senator, or one of the other big races, our voters will finally turn out in droves, and we will reclaim the Democrats rightful place of power in Austin. Then all will be right with the world.
That is a delusion so false, it is almost criminal. Yet we fall for it again and again. We have had several of those candidates over the decades. Every last one of them has gone down to defeat. “Yeah but we came close,” some will say. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. I don’t care that Beto O’Rourke or Mike Collier came close. I care that rural Texas was their Achilles heel, as it has been for all state-wide Democratic candidates for decades.
I propose a different approach. The last thirty years of obsessing over state-wide races have been nothing but a waste of time and money. as far as I am concerned. I believe that politics is not a top-down game. The only way to win at politics is for a local candidate to have people that will vote for him or her. That is the building block of democracy. Then the person with that support throws their support and voters behind someone in the race above them. That is how you build a governing coalition and win in party politics. Our nationalized form of politics has gotten us used to the campaign built around a cult of personality to draw people to them with a messianic fervor. This is not healthy and is undemocratic. This is how tyrants come to power.
I do not really care that much about who is at the top of the ticket. My view is that we need to worry more about getting candidates on the primary ballot for constable than we do for Governor. No matter who they are, in rural areas, state-wide candidates do not bring independent rural voters to the polls to vote Democratic. Those who were going to vote for the Democratic state-wide candidates already were. To get the non-voters and swing voters we need good, well-known local candidates for County Judge and County Commissioner, not Governor.
There is nothing new about this. It is old-time politics. The reason people do not vote Democratic in rural Texas is not because so many of them are Republican. It is because we never give them any Democrats worth voting for at the local level. We must field candidates in every single race we can, regardless of the odds of winning. That is how you will grow the Democratic Party.
Filing deadline for the March 1 primary is Monday, December 13 at 6pm. To learn more, visit www.kcdems.us