Monday, September 13, 2010

OSD: A fine piece of work

Open Source Dem ("OSD" in the header) sent this along last week for posting here. Be warned; he's a bit pessimistic.


This joint project discounts the very possibility in Texas of what Bill Galston calls a "wave" election, like 1994 or 2002. I truly wish I could discount that dreary prospect, instead of praying for intervention by von Blücher or Obama.

Curiously, I think that logistics is more important in politics and even war than strategy. But I do not think that pimp-consultants fathom either. Even half-baked poseurs like Newt Gingrich or Dick Armey can stomp all our mercenaries.

Both state party establishments are artifacts today of the bipartisan concession-tending that dominates (i) Congressional campaign committees out of DC, (ii) the state legislature in Austin, and (iii) local government in cities other than Austin. These, today, are artifacts of what James K. Galbraith calls the Predator State. It is funny how we can be so self-aware yet robotically stupid. We can proclaim republican democracy but practice only collusive bargaining.

Austin is a lovely theme park propped up by the River Authorities, the legislative extraction industry, and of course the University plantations, not a cosmopolitan city like Bexar, a national hub like Dallas, much less a world-class city like Houston-Galveston. In any case, neither Texas party does "waves". Those sweep into Texas from other states despite the reactionary liberals and “left behind” conservatives in Austin.

Still, this may not be a wave election. We just do not know yet. Even if it is, the particulars of local races detailed in this meticulous report by the younger Martin will still have a marginal effect.

All I can add is ...

1. The Frost/Baron/Angle (2005) plan to Turn Texas Blue and thereby to control redistricting is probably dead -- no pun intended and all apologies to those who survive Fred -- even under the best of circumstances. (That Obama thing? Never happened. John Edwards was elected President, Hilary Clinton Vice-President.)

The reason is, simply, that to do anything that radical the TDP has to be competitive rather than collaborative and innovative rather than emulative. That is not rocket science, but it is not the Grisham novel we still live in here, either.

2.  Two of the Houston statehouse races, HDs 133 (Thibaut vs. Murphy a third time, one win apiece) and 138 (Dwayne Bohac vs. Kendra Yarbrough Camarena) are very tight, as concisely described in the scholarly triumph mentioned above, with one exception: both will likely be influenced decisively by a charter amendment on the City of Houston ballot involving roads and drainage, also a new tax. This has both bi-partisan opposition (populist) and non-partisan support (establishment).

Since the GOP is able to raise money as the ruling party in Harris County and run as the opposition party in the City -- leaving Democrats looking hapless and clueless -- the net effect of right-wing activism and left-wing neutralism may be to knock off the Democratic incumbent and challenger.

3. The catastrophic fire which destroyed the DRE voting plant is like "weather", including "fog", in battle. It adversely affects both sides. In government, the GOP has a recovery plan and the Democrats support it. The most prominent feature of that plan is not doing anything -- like extending hours or days -- that might help Bill White.

The effect of the fire, in all events, is to make the election process very complex technically and confusing logistically.

With their superior mobilization technology and anti-tax pseudo-populism, the GOP may be able to better exploit the fire in Harris County. In any case, the effective vote-suppression campaign they run out of the Tax Office is still intact. So between those two advantages, they may be able to keep the already dismal political participation rate here low, thereby sinking Bill White statewide and sweeping the county.

But I wish it were not so.

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