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Fw: [utepprogressives] "Texas Democrats' conservatism widespread" by Jason Stanford/American-Statesman

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  • Greg Cannon
    ... From: Rick Kisséll Subject: [utepprogressives] Texas Democrats conservatism widespread by Jason Stanford/American-Statesman To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28, 2011

      --- On Thu, 7/28/11, Rick Kisséll <rick@...> wrote:

      From: Rick Kisséll <rick@...>
      Subject: [utepprogressives] "Texas Democrats' conservatism widespread" by Jason Stanford/American-Statesman
      To: "Know Justice Know Peace Yahoo Group owner" <knowjusticeknowpeace-owner@yahoogroups.com>
      Date: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 11:12 AM


      Texas Democrats' conservatism widespread outside of Austin

      by Jason Stanford
      Austin (Texas) American-Statesman

      Shortly after the 2006 gubernatorial election, a young Democratic activist invited me out for coffee to tell me how I screwed up as the campaign manager for Democrat Chris Bell. And such was my fragile state after the grueling, two-year campaign that I accepted.

      It wasn't that the Democratic donor base had abandoned its party's nominee in favor of Comptroller Carole Strayhorn, who had abandoned her own Republican Party to run against Rick Perry.

      And it wasn't that satirist Kinky Friedman had made cynicism cool and captured thousands of disaffected white Democrats.

      It was that he thought Chris Bell wasn't liberal enough.

      "You should have had Chris Bell be for gay marriage. I just think Chris Bell could have really gotten Democrats excited if he had come out for legalizing gay marriage," this guy told me.

      I certainly made mistakes as Bell's manager in 2006, but to cast Bell as the standard-bearer for gay marriage a year after Texans voted a ban on same-sex unions into the state Constitution by a 3-to-1 margin would have been a huge political mistake. But when you live in Austin, it's an easy one to make.

      Democratic primaries in Austin can be as humorless and judgmental as telling a bride that she doesn't deserve to wear white.

      We inflict purity tests on one another's partisan fidelity that Barack Obama couldn't pass. But in a city where every other car on MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) has an Obama bumper sticker, it's easy to forget that all Democrats in Texas aren't as liberal as we are.

      They're not even all Democrats. I did a statewide campaign in 2008 that polled Democratic Primary voters and found that only 73 percent of them were actually Democrats.

      Texas Democrats are more conservative than anyone in Austin might imagine.

      Bryan Dooley, a Democratic pollster with Hamilton Campaigns out of Florida, says that Texas Democrats are more conservative than Democrats in Georgia, but more moderate than Democrats in Alabama and Mississippi.

      Yet most Austin Democrats have no problem demanding that their statewide candidates take positions to the left of Nancy Pelosi and think the reason we don't win is that we didn't yell loudly enough.

      You can rally at the Capitol on a sunny day and think the blue skies go all the way from El Paso to Texarkana, but Texans get pretty conservative when you leave Austin's city limits.

      As much as we might hate to admit it, Austin Democrats might have more in common with our moderate Republican neighbors than with our partisan brothers from out of town.

      Here in Austin, we all know Republicans who are pro-choice. But in Texas, 43 percent of Democratic primary voters are anti-abortion rights. In Austin, we get excited when we discover that our new carpet was made from recycled two-liter bottles and get angry at the thought that the Formula One racetrack might pollute our air.

      Yet 30 percent of Texas Democrats think environmental regulations hurt the economy.

      Despite what my friend said, 45 percent of Texas Democrats in 2008 would choose a candidate who opposes gay marriage and favors civil unions over one who supports gay marriage.

      Dooley, the Democratic pollster, says Texas Democrats continue to fit the mold of Southern conservatives because socially conservative Hispanics and blacks replaced the Dixiecrats.

      The conservatism of Hispanics is clearest — and most surprising — when you look at the immigration questions in that 2008 poll.

      It found that a third of Hispanics supported building a border wall, and that was the good news for liberals.

      Fully 35 percent of Hispanics voting in the Texas Democratic primary opposed giving preventive health care to illegal immigrants because it could provide an "incentive for illegals to have children here."

      That's right. More than a third of Texas Hispanic Democrats were worried about anchor babies.

      "Texas is an example of why it is a myth that Southern conservative Democrats are disappearing," Dooley said. "They exist. They are just becoming more brown and less white."

      You can't fix all the problems of Texas Democrats in one column, but a good place to start would for Team Blue — and this includes me — to be as accepting of ideological diversity as we are of racial diversity.

      Stanford is an Austin political consultant.


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