As a journalist I strive to maintain political neutrality and afford equal access to people of all parties. My personal politics, however, run a deep red. That’s why I find it very hard to write this next sentence. It’s time for Texas to bleed a little blue. It’s been said that too much of a good thing can be bad for you and I think that holds true in politics as well. Republicans have had such a stranglehold on so many levels of government for so long that it is creating problems.
Specifically, I see complacency and disenfranchisement. More than just see it, I’ve experienced it. For quite some time now Democrats have been talking about a Blue Tide this November. I think a Blue Tide would be bad for the state, but a Blue Trickle is necessary to maintain a system of checks and balances.
I think one of the reasons Democrats are so well organized and forceful this year is because they’ve had enough of the status quo. They’ve been put down and ignored for a long time. In the past they’ve run token campaigns against the Big Red Machine with less than marginal success. This year I see more than token campaigns. I see unity and determination among Democrats.
The marquee matchup is the U.S. Senate race between Republican Sen. Rafael “Ted” Cruz and Democrat Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. My general observation so far is that O’Rourke is running a positive, grassroots campaign that is appealing to a lot of people in this area. The Beto signs seem to outnumber the Cruz signs locally.
Cruz, on the other hand, is running a negative, anti-Beto campaign and seems to be relying on establishment support and the benefits of incumbency. It appears to me that his campaign is centered around tearing down his opponent rather than building on his accomplishments. I have moral issues with that approach. I still won’t vote for O’Rourke, but I’m going to have to hold my nose and pull on the hip waders to pull the lever for Cruz.
On a local level, I generally support the local Republican candidates, but I’m finding my support weakening over time. A lot of it has to do with my wife’s healthcare plan. Most people don’t know this, but Sandy has been working on a national healthcare plan ever since the Obama Administration rolled out the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She has studied this topic and fine-tuned her plan over several years. And she knows what she’s talking about. Sandy has a master’s degree in health care administration, a nursing degree, and is employed by the UT Health in the Texas Medical Center.
Her plan, in a nutshell, places the emphasis on preventive care over emergency care. Getting anyone in government to pay attention to her is nearly impossible. We did get to meet with U.S. Rep. Pete Olson at his office on Aug. 25, 2017. The meeting was interrupted by a thunderstorm that knocked the power out. It was the first wave of storms from Hurricane Harvey, and everything we discussed was quickly forgotten.
Undaunted, she has reached out to the offices of Gov. Greg Abbott, Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, and State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst. None of them has responded to her. Not even so much as an acknowledgement that they received her request. All these elected officials are Republicans. If this is how they treat people within their own party, I can just imagine what it’s like for Democrats, independents, and people of third parties. That’s why I say it might be time for this state to bleed a little blue. How can we expect to be heard if we are under the leadership of a single, large, deaf, party?
Additionally, our school districts are suffering from less state funding and being tasked with more unfunded mandates. In the last Legislative session, we heard a lot of talk from legislators going in that they supported public education, but their votes spoke otherwise. I’m looking specifically at Sen. Kolkhorst and Sen. Joan Huffman, both of whom represent parts of Fort Bend County and both of whom sit on the Senate Finance Committee.
There are other issues as well, but I won’t belabor the point. To be sure, our elected officials are generally doing a good job, but without competition, they grow complacent. With a party monopoly in power the disenfranchised have nowhere to turn. As much as I love living in a deep red state, I think a little purple might do us all some good in the long run. Even the Republican Party can benefit from having a few wounds to lick. It’s through failure that we learn and grow. Success is built on failure, not monopolies.