Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chris Bell and betrayal

I confess, I fell for it.  The whole "most progressive candidate in the race" thing.  The seemingly unwavering commitment to the HERO, and all the rest.  I know exactly when it began: when he hired the guy who helped Bill DeBlasio win in New York.

Today I feel duped.  Misled.  Gypped (to use a racist term).  The hornswoggling continues with statements like these:

"This runoff election is not about HERO, and it's not on the ballot," Bell said. "To try to paint Bill as some kind of right-wing zealot or hater is absolutely absurd."

That's not just false, it ignores the reality.  It is a deeply disingenuous and cynical remark that insults the intelligence of any Houstonian who's been paying attention.  Here's the infamous anti-HERO ad, reworked and on the air right now:

You see, Bell isn't stupid.  Craven, opportunistic, and for sale to the highest bidder, but not stupid.

As hard as I try not to be swindled, sweet-talked, or manipulated by the apparently insincere entreaties of candidates who seek out my advice and counsel, I am occasionally betrayed by my own naive willingness to find one who stands for something.

This is one of those times.  I drank the Kool-Aid.

This is the kind of thing that ruins politics for everybody.  Ruins friendships, trust, you name it.  These political calculations damage not only sellouts like Bell and King, but brands like "progressive", "liberal", and Democrat".  Enormous and somewhat incalculable damage is done to the body politic when deceptions of this kind are passed off as expediency.  I would go so far as to say that it's a primary reason why Democratic turnout keeps dropping, election cycle to cycle.

Frankly it's the kind of thing I held against Sylvester Turner, with his Craddick-crat business ten years ago, his reaching across the aisle repeatedly to strike deals in the Lege, etc., not to mention his latecomer status to the marriage and equality rights of the LBG and especially T community.  African Americans who voted against HERO comprise some significant portion of the electorate who put him in the runoff, and are being counted on to put him in the mayor's office.  But those who fit that description will, I suppose, have to swallow hard and hold their nose because of Turner's support of the ordinance, however muted I believed it to be during the general election period.  King, on the other hand, is wasting no time working both sides of the street, attempting to swindle HEROes and haters alike.  He's mouthing now about seeing if there's a way forward.

“I think we need some time to heal the bruised feelings on both sides,” King said. “But I absolutely intend to call all the stakeholders together at some point in time and begin a discussion about how do we best go about demonstrating to the rest of the world the kind of city Houston really is.”  

That's to the left of Turner.

Sylvester Turner has supported the equal rights ordinance throughout his campaign. But he sounds less inclined to bring it back — even a modified version — saying the voters have spoken.

“This is a democratic process,” Turner said. “The people voted on Nov. 3, and I think it’s important now to deal with a whole host of issues that are important to every Houstonian.”

Turner's also playing to his base.  'Let's stop talking about this' defines the Houston black Democrat/social conservative voter to a T.  But this post is about betrayal, and Turner's consultant Sue Davis sums it up quite well.

"Houstonians who voted for Bell are unlikely to go to King in the runoff because King's values are not theirs," Davis said in an email. "Bell got their votes because he positioned himself as a progressive. Just because Bell has changed his stripes doesn't mean his voters will."

Bell's only base of support was Meyerland in southwest Houston, my general neighborhood.  It's home to Houston's most prominent and active Democratic club, one filled with Jewish Blue Dogs.

They're not voting for Bill King no matter what Chris Bell says.  And neither am I.

Update: Charles has more (and his commenters are somewhat more than their regular delusional).


Unknown said...

That ad is surprisingly bad.

Of course, so are the weird Turner ads trying to connect King with Ted Cruz. Those come across as insincere and a little slimy.

Maybe I consider anything with Ted Cruz slimy, but I hope Turner's ads get better, particularly if King's playing center-left.

PDiddie said...

It's just more of "the voters are stupid, so we can say anything we want" mentality. It's consultant-driven. I've come to believe that this cynicism is why people don't vote; because they don't like it when they're insulted.

Noah Horwitz said...

The Meyerland Democrats, of course, endorsed Turner yesterday, their first municipal endorsement as far as I recall.

Gadfly said...

So, is Bill King taking a "wide stance"?

Elderlady said...

Ah well.....Live and learn.

Democrats and Progressives in Texas, have been "holding their noses while voting" for years.
Considering the alternative....... one more year.... won't matter.
It all is what it is.

Elderlady said...

Considering the alternative, I'll hold my nose and vote one more time.

FightTheMan said...

I don't get it. If Turner is such a cruddy choice, then why is everyone so shocked and offended? Just because Chris Bell had a different calculus in playing the 'lesser-of-two-evils' game, he doesn't deserve this vitriol and questioning of motives. Turner has plenty of anti-LGBT voting history, and it's sad to see everyone fall head over heels for his politically opportunistic 'evolution.'

Unknown said...

To shift the topic, I saw the GLBT Caucus' runoff voting card - will you be updating your recommendations? For District H it comes down to Karla Cisneros (their pick) vs Jason Cisneroz (yours, IIRC)

PDiddie said...

Yes, Benjamin, I believe mine are going to be very similar to the Tejano Dems, who endorsed recently, with the exception of Sharon Moses. I cannot endorse her on further scrutiny.