What Must Happen for Texas to Turn Blue

by Published on
Voting in Travis County 2012
Jen Reel

You hear the question often: Is Texas becoming a blue state?

Since President Obama won reelection in November with an emerging Democratic coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, women and young voters, political pundits have been talking incessantly about the potential of Texas going Democratic. MSNBC has made it an obsession.

The creation of Battleground Texas—a group formed by former Obama campaign staffers to make the Lone Star State competitive—has only fueled national media speculation that Texas is going blue. (The Observer explore this subject at an Austin panel—“Will Texas Turn Blue?”— Thursday night, May 23, at 8 p.m. at Scholz Garten.)

On the ground, however, Texas remains as Republican as it gets. The GOP boasts comfortable majorities in both chambers of the Legislature and controls every statewide office; in fact, Democrats haven’t won a statewide race in Texas since 1994, a 19-year losing streak that spans 101 defeats.

What has Democrats hoping they can reverse that trend is the state’s shifting demographics. Namely, the state’s Latino population is booming. Latinos tend to vote Democratic. Therefore, the theory goes, given enough time, Democrats could start winning statewide office again. (Some say 2014, others 2016, 2018, 2020. Some say it will never happen.)

The flaw in the theory, as many Democratic strategists and progressive organizers will acknowledge, is that you should never assume any group of voters will stick with you indefinitely.

Another problem is that Texas Latinos go to the polls at a very low rate, compared to Anglo and African-American voters, and compared to Latino voters in other states. If Democrats don’t increase the voter turnout rate among Latinos, they might be waiting a long time for the demographics changes to deliver them the state.

Then there’s the Republican Party, which isn’t going to sit idly by and let the state go Democratic. The state GOP and independent group Hispanic Republicans of Texas have been working for several years to attract more Latino candidates and voters to the party.

So what must happen for Democrats to break the GOP’s hold on Texas? Increasing Latino turnout is a must, especially in the Houston area. But there’s more to it. As polling commissioned by the Democratic group Back to Basics PAC in Harris County during the 2012 election shows, Democrats have no lock on the Latino vote. In fact future control of Texas may hinge on which Latino voters show up at the polls.

For Texas to ever become competitive for them, Democrats will need to lock down Harris County. Home to 4.2 million Texans, almost 70 percent of whom are non-white, Houston is the present and future face of Texas. Former state demographer Steve Murdock has estimated that by 2040, Harris County will have 516,000 fewer Anglos than in 2000 while the number of Latinos will surge by 2.5 million. As Houston goes, so goes Texas.

Given that Anglos are already a minority of Harris County’s population, you would think the Houston area would be ripe for Democratic success. Yet the county has proved an elusive prize. In recent elections, Harris County has been evenly divided.

latinos in harris - electorate

In 2008, Barack Obama won the county by a little more than 19,000 votes. In 2012, he did slightly worse, beating Mitt Romney by just 971 votes.

Latinos, despite representing 40 percent of the population of the county, constitute only 15 percent or so of the electorate. Partly that’s due to how young the Latino community is and the presence of many non-citizens. But it’s also due to an abysmal turnout rate that’s hampering Democratic efforts to turn Houston—and by extension, Texas—blue.

So if you’re looking for signs that Democrats are making any progress in Texas, you need to look at Houston. More specifically, you need to see if Democrats are harnessing the booming Latino population there.

But hidden in the 2012 election data were trends that should have Democrats worried. In Harris County at least, Republicans showed surprising strength among some Latinos. The Latino community is hardly monolithic. In fact, the Back to Basics post-election survey of Harris County identified “two Hispanic worlds”—one that votes often and splits its vote between Republicans and Democrats, and another that is overwhelmingly favors Democrats but tends not to vote.

The survey found that Latinos who are less likely to vote—and who tend to be working class and less educated—overwhelmingly favored Obama in 2012. Eighty four percent of these “low-propensity” voters said they favored Obama versus just 15 percent for Romney, according to the polling obtained by the Observer.

The obvious conclusion is that getting these voters to the polls can do wonders for Democrats, said Jeff Rotkoff, who heads the PAC. Latinos in Houston - two worlds

But the remainder of the Latino community in Houston was almost evenly split between Obama and Romney.

Perhaps more troubling for Democrats thinking of running for governor or other statewide office is that the survey of Latino voters found significant defections to tea partier Ted Cruz.

While Obama carried Harris County Latinos 59-40 overall, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Paul Sadler, took only 53 percent to Cruz’s 46 percent share. Not only did Sadler run behind Obama among Harris County Latinos, but among “high propensity” Latinos—those most likely to vote—Cruz bested Sadler 53-44 percent. That’s worth repeating: Among Latinos most likely to vote, Ted Cruz won a majority in Harris County.

latinos in harris - two worlds II

On the other hand, popular Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia outperformed Obama among Latinos significantly, beating his Republican opponent 65 percent to 32 percent.

The lesson is that Latinos are a diverse bunch and that many—the ones who tend to vote at higher rates—are willing to vote for the right Republican.

In short, the 2012 election returns in Harris County add a wrinkle to the conventional wisdom that increased Latino turnout will aid Democrats. If the polling is correct, Democrats will takeover Harris County and Texas only if they can turnout the “low propensity” voters most likely to support Democrats.

Otherwise, Republicans have shown they can win over enough “high propensity” Latinos to make a Democrat winning statewide in Texas difficult.

Some Texas progressives say they’re already making significant gains in Harris County due to efforts organizing and mobilizing in minority communities with traditionally low voter-turnout rates.

In four out of five heavily Latino legislative districts targeted by Texas Organizing Project, a group trying to mobilize and engage Latinos, as well as more partisan Democratic outfits, turnout increased in largely Latino districts—by 1.6 percent in Senate District 6 (Sen. Sylvia Garcia ) to 10 percent in House District 143, represented by Democratic Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna.

Texas Organizing Project (TOP) specifically targeted minority communities with the highest concentrations of “low-propensity” voters, from Pasadena to Katy to the East End and the north side of Houston. The group’s goal was to talk to voters five times by knocking on doors three times and calling twice.

Texans for America’s Future, a super PAC supporting Obama, also targeted low-propensity voters in Harris County, said Rotkoff, the group’s founder. The PAC’s post-election survey points to the coalition the Democrats need to build: an amalgam of women, working class folks and minorities.

latinos in harris - keys to coalition

Many Texas Democrats insist that they’ve got the message, and are serious about civic engagement and turnout. “The reality is you don’t win new voters and get them into the process by ignoring them 18 months every two years,” says Matt Glazer, executive director of the progressive group Progress Texas. “The proof of concept is happening and now people are working in an unprecedented way.”

He points to the 2012 results in Houston as the first fruits of their labor. “The beast has been stirred a a little bit.”

Forrest Wilder, a native of Wimberley, Texas, is associate editor of the Observer. Forrest specializes in environmental reporting and runs the “Forrest for the Trees” blog. Forrest has appeared on Democracy Now!, The Rachel Maddow Show and numerous NPR stations. His work has been mentioned by The New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Time magazine and many other state and national publications. Other than filing voluminous open records requests, Forrest enjoys fishing, kayaking, gardening and beer-league softball. He holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.

  • Gritsforbreakfast

    IMO this is the wrong question for progressives. Instead why not ask: What can be accomplished in the next several sessions given the remarkable shift in ideology in the GOP over the last two cycles, especially in the Texas House? Even when Ds were the majority party, progressive Ds were a minority. For the entirety of Democratic control in Texas progressives had to build coalitions to win. And if they’re willing, there are coalitions available to be built right now. On some of the criminal justice and civil liberties issues I work on, the new crop of Tea Party Republicans are much more supportive of reform than a) the old-grump establishment Republicans they replaced (e.g., Leo Berman for Matt Schaefer) or b) the Ds who held the same seats two or three decades ago. Live in the moment. The Dems will one day re-take Texas state government but that won’t automatically equate to a triumph of progressivism. Ask the pro-lifers! They’ve spent a generation getting their folks elected to the Texas Lege and are no closer to banning abortion than they are banning automobiles. Politics is the art of the possible and a lot is possible between now and 2022 which is IMHO when the statewide vote will likely flip. That’s a long time, too long to wait.

  • Mary Bell Lockhart

    A lot of what got Ted Cruz elected was no information regarding what a madman he is. No doubt some voted for him just because he was touted as being Hispanic. His father was Cuban, but that does not make him Hispanic by the policies he pushes. There is huge and growing buyer’s remorse on all sides over him. This points to the biggest problem Texas has-inadequate media, radio, TV, magazines, newspapers to presents factual information people need to make rational decisions when they do vote. We have a politically uninformed electorate, very destructive to democracy. Democrats could far better reach those groups they need to motivate to vote if resources would be poured into particularly TV and radio. Now!

    • Public_Sense

      Mary Bell, you are just plain wrong. We’ll see in 2014 how much respect Cruz has attained.

      • Mary Bell Lockhart

        Yes, we’ll see, won’t we. We’re already seeing him characterized as a modern day Joseph McCarthy. And we all know what happened to the original. He’s a sick man, bad for Texas and bad for America.

        • Public_Sense

          Characterized by the liberal press. They’re scared of him.

          • SoberMoney

            The right wing nuts always characterize the intelligent and investigative press as the “liberal press.” Its is rhetorical nonsense.

            Ted Cruz is a Christian sociopath who claims to represent the conservative Hispanic population. In reality he is a decendant of pre-Castro extremism in the vein of the dictator Batista.
            Cruz’s agenda is nothing more than narcissistic obstructionism and nutty Tea Party pandering. Cruz is good for Texas in that he will make Republicans (not smart conservatives who are already sane) shutter at this savvy incompetence.
            Unfortunately, Ted Cruz is the dangerous become he knows how push racist and mindless right wing buttons to side with his get nothing done politics. He is the snake oil salesman who uses Jesus Christ to peddle his fake solutions.
            Texas is a failed state. But the right wing can’t see it because they are too busy being angry and ideological – rather than looking at the forest behind the trees.

    • KhadijahMuhammad

      “His father was Cuban, but that does not make him Hispanic by the policies he pushes.”

      How’s that? The Hispanics I know want to work hard and get paid for it. That’s a GOP priority. They don’t want handouts. That’s what the Dims push.

      A paycheck is always larger than a welfare check.

      • Mary Bell Lockhart

        No, the GOP policy priority is for the corporations to reign over the workers and the people. More profits for the profiteers who certainly DO want the handouts THEY are getting to continue. It’s welfare for the rich and it far outstrips assistance to the poor and unemployed. What they don’t want is for ordinary hardworking people to be paid a decent wage, have health care. What they don’t want is for young people to get an education without crushing debt. That’s why they demonize these as “welfare” while they collect the real giveaways.

        • KhadijahMuhammad

          This is a conspiracy theory worthy of an true UFO believer.
          .
          What you are referring to is “corporatism”, and it is present not just in the GOP, but in both parties. Do a little research and find out what Senator named Chucky and what Congressman named Charlie have spent decades defending Wall Street against regulation and government, and then look up whether they have a (D) or an (R) after their names. There was also a congressman named “John” who did the same for the car manufacturers — he had a (D) too, if I recall.
          .
          You want a better corporate environment? Work WITH the corporations, not against them. Clinton did it, and things worked out fairly well, economically.

          • Mary Bell Lockhart

            What Clinton did with the corporations was a disaster. For example, ending the Glass-Steagel restrictions on banks that led eventually to the economic crisis we have seen of derivative gambling. Clinton also brought us NAFTA and ended “wefare as we know it” which have caused economic disasters particularly for American middle class. I agree there are corporatist Democrats. HOWEVER, the Republican Party is 100% corporatist and now more and more Democrats have learned the lesson.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “What Clinton did with the corporations was a disaster.”
            .
            Yea. Profits were up, revenues were up, wages were up, standards of living were up. Life sure sucked.
            .
            “…ending the Glass-Steagel restrictions on banks that led eventually to the economic crisis…”
            .
            No serious commentator has ever tied Glass Steagall to the financial crisis. The bad actors in the crisis were the investment banks, the GSE’s, and AIG. None of those were ever regulated under Glass Steagall. Thus, no causality was possible.
            .
            “…ended “wefare as we know it”"
            .
            Yea. I get you now. He had the nerve to ask Americans to be responsible for themselves. The cad.
            .
            “HOWEVER, the Republican Party is 100% corporatist…”
            .
            You’re not paying attention. The RINO’s are at the throats of the Tea Party. Why? The Tea Party aren’t corporatists.

          • Mary Bell Lockhart

            I’m sorry but you simply do not have the facts. Consumer banks with federal backing were able to gamble in investments – they could not do this under GS. It took some time for this to rise to disaster proportions, but it was the central cause of economic collapse. Ending welfare hurt the least among us, who COULD NOT “be responsible for themselves” because they were children. Your phrasing of that is typical demonizing the poor, as in, if you’re poor and need of assistance you must not be responsible. The truth is that MOST poor adults, MOST who get help DO work. Get a clue by looking at the wage trends which have been flat for 2 decades. And I think you aren’t paying attention, the POLICIES that the tea party advocates are, without exception, those that enhance the economic power of corporations and the rich. They just say they’re not corporatist because it sounds good; in reality they were funded and inflamed by corporate dollars from Republicans and corporations.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “I’m sorry but you simply do not have the facts. ”
            .
            I assure you I do. In great detail.
            .
            “Consumer banks with federal backing were able to gamble in investments – they could not do this under GS.”
            .
            That is not in debate. The POINT is that the institutions that did the VAST MAJORITY of the gambling (Bear Sterns, Lehman, Goldman, Merrill, etc.) were not regulated under G-S. Ever. Period.
            .
            For six years now I have asked everyone who repeats this G-S myth a simple question, and gotten back [crickets]. So, here goes again: WHAT CLAUSE IN G-S WOULD HAVE PREVENTED THE BROKER-DEALERS FROM SELLING CDOs, THE GSE’s FROM UNDERWRITING THEM, AND AIG FROM INSURING THEM?”
            .
            It’s a simple question, and I await your reply. Please be specific as to the clause.
            .
            “Your phrasing of that is typical demonizing the poor…”
            .
            Cry me a river. I am more than happy to provide assistance to those in NEED for the time (temporary) it takes to get back on their feet. Specifically, the time it takes to get them retrained into something marketable — meaning six to eighteen months in a community college certificate program. That’s the offer: Room and board and time with funds to get the right education for a decent job. If somebody without mental or physical challenges won’t get it done in that period of time, we morally should NOT be their Santa Claus. I’m inclined to continue to help out their kids, because it’s not the kids fault their parent(s) is(are) loser(s), but the parent has given us no reason to show compassion to them personally.
            .
            “Get a clue by looking at the wage trends which have been flat for 2 decades.”
            .
            Two decades? You have most certainly been in Antarctica. Real hourly wage in the US peaked in 1974. We’re FORTY YEARS in decline on this statistic.
            .
            “…those that enhance the economic power of corporations and the rich.”
            .
            They are also the policies that improve standards of living for the lower and middle classes, because a paycheck is always bigger than a welfare check. The kindest thing you can ever do for an unemployed person is find them a job. A check is nice (see for limitations on that), but a job is far better.
            .
            But, more importantly, you’ve missed the obvious, that being that corporations employ the majority of us; therefore, the interests of the corporations and the citizens are aligned, not in opposition as you assume. That’s the old post WW2 labor model that did in Chrysler twice, GM once, Bethlehem Steel, et al. Archaic. Put another way, you cannot create a scenario where the (1) economy expands AND (2) the lower and middle classes increase their wealth AND (3) the upper class DOES NOT increase their wealth. It’s economically impossible. So, best to stop being in denial about it, and if the lower and middle classes start gaining in wealth again, ignore the fact that the rich are getting two pennies for every one of theirs. That’s why they’re rich. They’re smart that way.

          • Mary Bell Lockhart

            There’s that arrogance in thinking you should somehow decide exactly what benefits people will get. One size fits all, and if their circumstances and needs didn’t match exactly what you prescribe, well too bad, they’re losers according to you. Hogwash! There’s that lack of empathy, inability to see others as your equal. I almost gagged to read the nonsense about the interests of the corporations and the citizens being aligned and concluding that the rich were rich because they were smarter. Corporations exist to make profits and those who profit most are the people at the top and shareholders. They have many ways of suppressing the economic welfare of their employees, millions of whom barely hang on because some job, any job is marginally better than no job at all. No one seeks a scenario in which the rich don’t get richer, the scenario to seek is that everyone makes a living income. What they’ve been gaining is a lot more than 2 pennies of every dollar the middle class gets. It’s unsustainable and, horror of horrors to conservatives, it also is immoral. That’s not who we are as Americans, which is why more and more are seeing the evils of austerity, libertarianism and tea party Republican politics, such as that of Ted Cruz.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “There’s that arrogance….”
            .
            Nonsense. Determining the “right” level of benefit is a subjective matter. Attaching labels such as “arrogance” to voices you disagree with is just your way of attempting to bully those who disagree with you into silence. Won’t work. Been down that road, many times.
            .
            “There’s that lack of empathy…”
            .
            Now, here’s YOU being arrogant. Unless you are an IRS worker who has me on your target list (possible, I suppose), you have no idea to what level I donate my time and money to the needs of the less fortunate. I can assure you it is nontrivial. What is indeed arrogant is your implied assertion that the only way one can be charitable/empathetic is if they support the government being an intermediary in the act of charity. Cock and bull nonsense. None of the three monotheistic religions permits its adherents to discharge their responsibility to the poor by supporting government redistributive welfare. So, we don’t.
            .
            “..read the nonsense about the interests of the corporations and the citizens being aligned..”
            .
            Except that it’s true. Corporations cannot survive with incompetent workers; if their behavior was as heinous towards workers as you seem to believe, corporations would have nothing BUT incompetent workers. THAT SAID, there does exist a free market for labor, and when labor is in surplus (as it is today) workers tend not to advance in living standards unless they acquire marketable proficiency, which in some high demand areas today is extremely easy to get. Once obtained, they earn a competitive wage and benefits. Underline *proficient*. That’s the secret sauce that makes it all work.
            .
            “Corporations exist to make profits and those who profit most are the people at the top and shareholders.”
            .
            BINGO! That’s precisely how they work, how they have always worked, and how they WILL always work. Knowing that, a wise government channels that profit motive into action. (Our current government, quite unfortunately, prefers to fight it, with the sluggish economy and 23% of our workforce underemployed, unemployed, or has given up.
            .
            “…the scenario to seek is that everyone makes a living income.”
            .
            BINGO again. How to do that? Fix our schools in the low income neighborhoods, which prepare students for nothing more than a McJob. 33% of our students leave high school undereducated, which is DOUBLE the rate found in the European nations. If Johnny can’t read, Johnny is overpaid at minimum wage. BRAVO to Rahm Emanuel, who stood up to the Luddites in his teachers union and closed fifty-something schools that were unneeded and which were soaking up dollars. BRAVO to the State of Texas, which expanded its very successful charter school implementation just this week, leveraging school competition to drive better outcomes.
            .
            And YES, the rich HAVE been gaining more than two pennies to one, and that’s indeed a problem which is unfortunately exacerbated by the government’s remarkable ability to chase production offshore. How to fix? Well, first off, let’s try not to break the economy again. When there’s a recession, people in the low and middle classes sell whatever assets they have CHEAP to make ends meet; those assets are snapped up by the rich, who have the cash on hand to buy stuff up at bargain prices. Wealth thus flows uphill. Second, see above comments on schools. Third, fix the damn corporate tax system, or put up with more CEO’s than just Tim Cook sitting in front of you saying “Right. Apple paid almost no taxes last year. And no I’m not sorry. You wrote the tax code, I just used it.”
            .
            ‘…it also is immoral.”
            .
            Heh. Well, it’s capitalism. :-). Nobody ever said capitalism was moral — but it does have this nagging ability to deliver a higher aggregate standard of living than any of the others, all of which are also immoral. This means that we need to work WITH it, not against it.
            .
            “That’s not who we are as Americans…”
            .
            Can you get any more vague and subjective? “Americans” have a tradition of self-reliance (which you above called “arrogance”) and a mirroring tradition of charity through private institutions that the leftists are doing their level best to wipe out. I highly suggest you avoid reading the Framers of the Constitution. They’re a lot closer to Cruz (who I proudly voted for over that RINO Dewhurst) than to you.

          • Mary Bell Lockhart

            Morals and empathy have really nothing to do with religion. Notice US Constitution says not one word about God. Yet it is fundamentally an ethical or moral document…. starts its mission statement, the Preamble, with “We the people…..” We’re all in this together and we are all equals – that’s what people like you and Cruz don’t seem to recognize. They are a basic to positive human nature.

            Capitalism works, but not when it cycles into crony capitalism which is where we are now. How to undo is practically easy but actually hard fighting uphill against big money and corporations: Raise taxes on higher marginal income, tax speculative investment, devote the government to serving “the commons” – those areas of society that are not served by the profit motive yet can be monopolized for private gain, those that serve both the general public and private enterprise. End govt of, by and for the corporation. Govt investment in infrastructure. Invest in alternative energy to break the stranglehold of fossil fuel profiteers. Invest in education at all levels, making it free for the individuals. These are things KNOWN to work and work very well TODAY in several societies worldwide. By the same token, libertarian economics has NEVER worked anywhere and there is no logical reason to believe it ever would. Things based on self-interest and greed seldom work very well.

            Charter schools have no better outcome than public schools by objective measures. And there is no logical reason to believe they even should. They’re an artifice intended to make money for education profiteers. Education is one area in which the profit motive provides no benefit, it is not a true competitive market. But backward-thinking profiteers in Texas have gotten themselves installed first by defunding public education so it can’t do a good job, then opening the door to the snake oil salesmen to make money.

            Fine if you don’t believe in “the commons” or that we are all equal and all in this together. Fine if you don’t believe that the government is or should be the servant of the people. Fine if you think the government should just be drowned in a bathtub. But I suggest that if you feel that way, get out of the way, stay out of running the government and let those of us who know that good government does work put it back to work.

            Devote yourself to making worthy profits in private enterprise and stop taking corporate welfare from the rest of us. These days too many corporations are fattened leeches on society that demonize and denigrate the people while robbing them. Republicans, libertarians, tea partiers and, sadly, too many Democrats are their willing servants. You’ve said, I’ve said, we’re real clear as to whose sides we’re on.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “Morals and empathy have really nothing to do with religion.”
            .
            Au contraire. Humanity shows (historically) a rather depressing tendency to lapse into sociopathy when the only standards the human needs to meet are those they have set for themselves. Religion solves that little problem by asking people to live up to an ETERNAL standard which is outside of their control.
            .
            Put another way, although there are nontheists who are indeed moral, their lack of a consistently applied moral code makes them undependable partners in society. They tend to act morally until it is in their best interest not to do so; they rationalize an exception for themselves, and then reinstate their “morality” once they’re done.
            .
            “Raise taxes on higher marginal income, tax speculative investment, devote the government to serving “the commons”. “These are things KNOWN to work and work very well TODAY in several societies worldwide.”
            .
            Where? Please be specific. Otherwise, you’re just giving your opinion expressed as fact.
            .
            I have relatives in Sweden, for one example. My marginally disabled nephew was thrown off of public assistance and back to work five or six years ago (they are constantly reforming their programs to be less expensive) and their marginal tax rates have been cut by 50% at least over the last three decades — The Economist recently ran an article talking about how the Nordics, in order to maintain a semblance of their social safety nets, have shrunk them and gone massively supply side with great success.
            .
            So, if you were going to cite Sweden as an example for your case, I wouldn’t — their social democracy experiment is over, they’ve become rabid free marketers (well, they never stopped, actually) and their social safety net has been shrinking (although it’s still much more encompassing than ours). They’re rapidly becoming a poster child for tax cutting, regulation cutting, program reforming, and the free market.
            .
            “By the same token, libertarian economics has NEVER worked anywhere…”
            .
            Straw man. We’re centuries off from being a mature enough race to operate in a libertarian fashion. Nobody’s suggesting that.

            “Charter schools have no better outcome than public schools by objective measures.”
            .
            Another straw man. I quite agree that charters serving the same students in a suburban school district will tend to underperform the public schools. However, the value of charters is in servicing underserved populations. In Houston, something like four of the top 10 high schools are charters, specifically the type that take low income students (the ones that need the remedy) and educate them eight hours a day and 11 months out of the year on a contract basis. These “at-risk” kids are getting outcomes equal to or exceeding the gifted/talented magnets.
            .
            Remember, the goal is to decrease that 33% undereducated number down to the developed world average — about 15%. Charters can do this VERY well, and do so in Texas, because they skim off that layer of of at-risk children who are willing and able to perform, and catapult them into 4-year higher education with the tools to succeed. So, the value is in very specific niches where the public schools struggle, such as kids with behavioral problems, mental challenges, at-risk, and G/T.
            .
            So, you can stick your fingers in your ears and yell all you like, but Texas education has improved from 25th-26th nationwide five years or so ago to 14th today, even after taking a round of wicked budget cuts during the recession, and the charters have played an important role in this success.
            .
            But, you seem to prefer ignoring facts when they conflict with your ideology. I’m sure you’ll explain away this one as well.
            .
            “Fine if you don’t believe in “the commons” or that we are all equal and all in this together.”
            .
            I said nothing to the contrary. However, as Milton Friedman articulated so well, the notion that government can succeed in operating for the common good is a sham, and I prefer not to waste money on shams. The larger the government becomes, the more it becomes dependent on special interests to feed it it’s lifeblood — meaning money. If you want a representative democracy, then you need elections; money is required, and it’s never given without strings attached. Ultimately politicians, even those with the best of intentions, first try to balance these forces, but then are ripped apart by them. And, as the most diverse large nation in the world, we are more subject to this reality that others.
            .
            So, governmental underperformance from the top down is inevitable; better to disperse government to the states (as per the original intent of the Framers) in the way that Daniel Moynihan ((D), if you didn’t know) suggested — let the Feds act as a Bureau of Standards, saying things like “you gotta provide THIS level of health care at a minimum, we don’t care how you do it.” Let the states run their own tax systems, their own safety nets (smaller states can joint venture if they wish) and end this nonsensical round-tripping of money from state to federal back to state. OVERNIGHT, the financial problems of the industrial blue states would be solved (they are net losers in these transactions) and the rural red states would be forced to raise taxes to cover their losses, also diminishing the incentive of blue-state businesses to move to cheaper red states.
            .
            We know this system would work, because the Swiss use it, and very well. Everyone would come out winners, we wouldn’t be at each others throats about abortion and mythical “wars on women” and all these social issues anymore, and life would be improved.
            .
            All the political parties would have to do is stop being control freaks. (That, of course, is the end of THAT idea….).
            .
            Seriously. 100% of the political rancor in this country is about ONE THING, and ONE THING ALONE; that is, people of one set of views not wanting to be forced to live by someone else’s. So, with Dims in the WH and Senate, the GOP simply blocks everything; when the GOP has the WH again, the Dims will become the blockers.
            .
            “..stop taking corporate welfare from the rest of us.”
            .
            Personally, I;ll be glad to end it all tomorrow. However, keep in mind that at least half of “corporate welfare” is put in place by Democrats looking out for their own state’s business interests. Ask Maria Cantwell how Starbucks, a retailer by any sane definition, got classified as a “manufacturer” and thus qualifies for all the corporate welfare given to that sector.

          • nobonesl

            Mary B L,
            You are far too intelligent to be wasting your time with intellectual and ethical drips like Muhammad. I’ve enjoyed reading your well-informed thoughts, but I cringe at the righteously self-imposed ignorance of Muhammad. You should try to accept the sad fact that some people CHOOSE an ideology over being American, or even being Human.
            It is a common malady of our era.

            Move on and do good.

          • nobonesl

            Right on, Mary Bell Lockhart.
            But please, stop wasting your valuable time trying to have a dialogue with
            the likes of Muhammad here. Hopeless.

          • nobonesl

            OMG, Muhammad,

            You are so wrong on Glass-Steagall. You clearly prefer to be.

            And for you to say the Tea Partiers “aren’t corporatist”, when they were guided,
            nurtured and financed largely by the likes of The Koch Bros.
            Wow. You’re scary.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “You are so wrong on Glass-Steagall…”
            .
            So the leftists have been saying for six years. Still waiting for somebody to post some evidence.
            .
            “And for you to say the Tea Partiers “aren’t corporatist”, when they were guided..”
            .
            There are three major national Tea Party groups and hundreds of local chapters. ONE of the national groups (not the largest, and not the one that sponsors candidates) were funded in part by the Kochs. None of the local chapters were.
            .
            “Wow. You’re scary.”
            .
            To the left, I hope I am. I promote the ideas of the Framers, specifically that the states were to be the laboratories of democracy, and that an unchecked federal government is the antithesis of liberty — and we need go no farther than the current issues at the IRS, the AP mess, and the NSA for evidence on that score.
            .
            We appreciate Obama making our case for us. He is promoting small government ideas well in excess of anything the Kochs could ever do.

          • SoberMoney

            Mohammed seems to believe his own grandiosity. He is an expert on everything. Such arrogance is a sure sign of defensive bluster and ignorance.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            Good thing Disqus has a “context” key. I had to go back and read what argument I was so convincingly winning to as to earn that kind of personal attack. :-)
            .
            BTW, just TWO minutes reading into any short bio of the Prophet Muhammad and you’d know I’m not a “he.” We can therefore conclude that your knowledge of the important people in world history is clearly lacking.

          • SoberMoney

            My apologies to the Prophet Mohammad for the gender oversight. But my “personal attack” is accurate given the attitude by which you debate your points. You confuse opinions with facts – the folly of any attempt for solutions we can offer to better our world.
            And for your own edification, the repeal of G-S did allow banks to get reckless with their investment portfolios as it gave permission to greedy bank executives to use their mergers with brokerage houses to cross sell products – such as quality-polluted CMOs and other high risk mortgage packages.
            You need to be more humble – if Mohammad will allow it.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “My apologies to the Prophet Mohammad for the gender oversight.”
            .
            He wasn’t bothered, I’m sure. I was.
            .
            “the repeal of G-S did allow banks to get reckless with their investment portfolios as it gave permission to greedy bank executives to use their mergers with brokerage houses to cross sell products – such as quality-polluted CMOs and other high risk mortgage packages.”
            .
            I never said anything to the contrary. What I said was is that the CDO activity BY COMMERCIAL BANKS was a pittance, and not nearly enough to crash anything. The vast majority of the CDO activity was in the broker-dealers who were never regulated under G-S, with paper underwritten by the vast financial reserves (from the taxpayer) of Fannie and Freddie, with AAA credit ratings given to that paper because (ostensibly) insurance (in the form of CDSs) sold by AIG.
            .
            The regulator of the broker dealers was the SEC, and what they did was legal and unregulated. The regulator of Frannie is Congress, who were willing to permit all this in return for campaign donations, and the regulator of AIG was the State of New York Insurance Commissioner.
            .
            None of those are opinions. I say again, if you want to avoid a future recurrence of the problem, one first must understand what CAUSED the problem; G-S is not implicated in such an analysis.

          • SoberMoney

            Let me make it a little clearer, Ms. Khadijah.

            The big regional banks ARE mostly responsible for the financial mess simply because there was NO regulatory separation between the lending arms of the banks and their brokerage subsidiaries after all the mergers once G-S was repealed. So in that most obvious sense the repeal of G-S did greatly contribute to the financial collapse in 2008-09. If your use of the term “commercial” banks is different from the “too big to jail” banks, then you might have credence to your point.

            If you persist in arguing against that “fact”, you are again allowing yourself to get into your grandiosity – which in not becoming – given your obvious intelligence on these matters.

            On the other hand, I like what you write overall, and I am sorry to have gotten off to a bad start (my bad).

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “If you persist in arguing against that “fact”,”

            A “fact” is something backed by undeniable evidence. Having studied this matter (and this G-S claim) in detail for five years running, I have yet to see any sort of chart or graph showing that an amount of the CDO activity in the commercial banks was of such a mass as to cause the meltdown. Securitization was simply not a huge business for the financial supermarkets, while it had become a huge source of profits for Goldman, Bear, and Lehman.
            .
            There are two facts that you may be interested in that are germane to this point:
            .
            1) The slope of housing price inflation began to deviate to the upside from its historical slope 2-3 years before G-S was repealed.
            .
            2) Despite the large number of bank failures in the 09-10 timeframe, the annual average of bank failures from 01-12 was *less than* the annual average from G-S passage through G-S repeal.
            .
            And….thanks, I guess. :-)

          • nobonesl

            Muhammad,
            You are living in some wonderful fantasy world there. I wish I lived there too.
            Unfortunately, the real world is messier and more complicated. Please take a Reality Pill someday, if you can handle it. But I can see why you wouldn’t want to.

          • KhadijahMuhammad

            “Unfortunately, the real world is messier and more complicated….”
            .
            Sorry, the “oh, it’s so much more complicated now” excuse has been used by statists since Ancient Rome. It’s a bit passe’. Please ask your masters for a new list of one-liners.

          • Steve K

            Explain how each and EVERY Wal*Mart store costs the American Tax-Payer over $900,000 a year for helping the staff to live.

      • aleatharhea

        Your patently ridiculous strawman argument that Democrats want to be supported by handouts for no work, while Republicans struggle for fair pay for a day’s work, is, frankly, evidence of the willful ignorance that has turned the right into such laughing stocks. It would be funny if it weren’t so harmful to our country.

    • Robot

      dems run the entire media…

      • Mary Bell Lockhart

        Absolutely not. Show me one media that is controlled by progressives or Democrats. The corporatistas bought them out years ago. Robot, that’s just a robotic line spread by the corporatistas.

        • Robot

          CNN, NBC etc. Progressives? Democrats are reversing progress, we’ve haven’t been this divided since the 1860′s the current administration has orchestrated so many scandals against the American people and it’s allies it will take many years for people to trust the u.s. gov again. Put down the cool aid.

          • Mary Bell Lockhart

            The striking thing about the Obama administration has been the LACK of scandal. All of them have proven to be fabrications of the Republicans especially Issa. You obviously have not been keeping up with the times, either, as you would know that corporate buyouts and consolidation have resulted in almost no media that is progressive or liberal. I don’t drink cool aid, and I do get the facts.

          • Robot

            Bahahaha, ok now i know you wear a tinfoil hat.

    • MACHGLOBAL

      Madman ? Cruz ?As a liberal you’re locked onto skin and DNA origination issues and not the core value of Cruz. Cruz had the guts to fill in what most American’s believe. We want a kick ass conservative that can whack the liberal media as did Newt Gingrich and not be afraid to attack their liberal opponent.. That brings conservatives out of their into voting booths. Democrats have no record to run on, Nothing other than “birth control” . And elections are not won on birth control.

  • SoberMoney

    Texas will turn purple when the closet racists, homophobes and xenophobes die off – or when the white middle class falls further and further behind economically and finally realize their right wing elitist leaders have been lying to them all along, pilfering their taxes for corporate welfare programs and cutting their retirement income until they can only buy high sugar, GMO laden food.

  • Denise Gardner James

    Women. Texas women cross all of the dividing line. Energize them… Wendy Davis and others have started something in June, and I hope the DNC will help keep the focus

  • Pressed Rat and Warthog

    This article neglects to mention that Democrats have not been investing much money in Texas until very recently; thus the low Hispanic turnout. As evidenced in the last election Democrats are very good at getting their base to vote. As demographics become more favorable the attention to Texas by the Democrats will increase.

    Along with this the influence of Tea Party candidates in Texas will further alienate Hispanic voters.

    Don’t be surprised if Texas becomes purple a lot sooner than expected.

  • Robot

    Yeah i’m sure a lot of Mexican Americans wanna vote for another Dem in the white house so another administration can funnel more guns to the cartels that murder their families in mexico like fast and furious. This article is stupid.