The Definition of Insanity

Texas political consultant Jason Stanford carries the distinct record of having worked for not only Chris Bell but also Farouk Shami and Kinky Friedman, which is the political consultant equivalent of going nil in a game of spades. My natural inclination to doubt the opinion of anyone whose work is sold to the highest bidder has led me to disagree with Stanford before. But I'm particularly insulted by Stanford's most recent manifesto pontificating on his newest theory: Texas Democrats are way more conservative outside of Austin and that's why they're not voting for the loser candidates he's heralded in the past.

Well, hot dog! I thought it was because one of those candidates was a Houston pencil-chewer who was so boring that by the time Bill White came along, thirty people clapping for him made White look like the Obama of the south. Or because one thought "a day without Mexicans would be like a day without sunshine." Or because one could never decide whether he was a Democrat or not.

But Stanford wants us to forget all of those potential reasons for a lackluster turnout and instead focus on trying something new: "Team Blue" should be more like Republicans. Citing nameless polls and out-of-context numbers, Stanford makes an argument that the Democratic Party isn't accepting enough of "ideological diversity." Evidently Democrats in Texas are too focused on radical ideology like upholding a woman's constitutional right to choose, two individuals' right to marry and not believing in things like anchor babies.  Because we heard so much of those issues during the last election -- I'm sure that's why we lost.

Stanford's latest delusions leaves me with just one question for him and, by extension, his fellow puppeteers in this state (please excuse the caps):


Being more like the Republican Party will not convince anyone -- Democrat or Republican -- to vote for Democrats. No doubt about it, Texas is a big state, with big beliefs and big differences. It's time for us to talk about them, not hide behind them. If you can't differentiate yourself, then what exactly are you planning on bringing to the table? "Vote for me -- I'm like the other guy!" is not a legitimate campaign message. While I may be a myopic Austinite, I know there are a lot of people out there in Texas unaccounted for when it comes to their impetus for voting (or not). The Democratic party in Texas needs to refocus and redefine what it is that makes us different from Republicans instead of constantly trying to pretend like we are the same.

We've tried that. It doesn't work. There's just more of the same down that losing road and I'm certainly not going to stand around while we back off on all of the issues that could stand to strengthen us. Accepting conservative ideology isn't the diversification of a party. It's the desertion of one.


9 Response to "The Definition of Insanity"

  • Anonymous Says:

    Agreed! Now the party's real challenge is going to be how to keep these candidates inline with the party platform AFTER the primary. -DL

  • Susan Says:

    I'll say Amen to that and pass the plate. The day has come that we have to quit focusing our whole message to make East Texas happy.

    There's a whole mess of consultants and candidates out there who think the answer to the tea party is for Democrats to sound like the mainstream GOP.


    It's time to get mean. You know, like Rachel.

  • rll Says:

    Barack Obama was elected because he ran as an idealist who encouraged the electorate to envision, and actually seek to create, a society and culture unlike that which they had known and been taught was the norm and convention. Sadly, once in office, either as a result of the intoxication of the position or pressure from others, Obama acquiesced to the pragmatism of politics as usual. If the Texas Democratic Party has any true desire to regain the influence and clout it held for over a century it must encourage, facilitate and support open minded philosophical idealist willing to not only propound those ideals but live them as well.

  • Anonymous Says:

    While I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with you or with Mr. Stanford, the fact that you have never lived outside of Austin compromises your perspective and ability to know how anyone outside of Austin does or does not think.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Well - with the recent track record it certainly wouldn't hurt. I don't mind pragmatism, per say, but it's obvious when a candidate is faking it or isn't ready for prime time....And can we please get someone with a backbone and at least an ounce of charisma. Anyone?

  • Anonymous Says:

    I lived in Texarkana when East Texas voted solidly Democratic (if not solidly liberal); I lived in Austin during college, which took much longer than a traditional four-year plan; and I've lived in the D/FW Metroplex, since, for nearly half my life.

    Stanford is right. People, generally speaking and including Democrats in the population, are more "conservative" outside of Austin. That doesn't make them (us) Republican, tea-sipping right wingers, like you hint, but it also doesn't mean he's any less correct in his general statement.

    Whether or not that's why Bell didn't receive full and enthusiastic is probably closer in line to the reasons you gave than to the reasons Stanford suggests.

    That doesn't negate his point, though.

    For example, I know for a certain and proven fact that Linda Chavez-Thompson's message didn't "play out here" like it did inside the bubble of Austin.

    And Austin IS a bubble.

    True enough Dallas County went blue, but it wasn't because we adopted the (sometimes overly) liberal Democratic flair of Travis County.

    Any good history book will show you the many and varied stripes of Democrats in Texas.

    There's room for all of us.

  • Cyrus Says:

    It's less a matter of "conservative" vs. "liberal" - more about defining a constituency and common issues, and message our issues in a way that resonates and wins ppl over. Someday we might try focusing on what's good for people who work for a living - as opposed to what's good for corporations and wealthy elite who fund and push the "conservative" message that clobbers working people while it pretends to defend them.

  • jcdp18 Says:

    You nailed it when you said, that the party needs to refocus and redefine what it is that makes us different from Republicans ..." RIGHT ON!

  • Natasha Says:

    If the sole purpose of the sonogram law was to see the position of the fetus to take the appropriate precautions when performing the abortion, well, that'd be understandable. But, sadly, Prick Perry cares more about forcing his own personal views upon us rather than concerning himself with the health of our poor sinning unfortunate souls. If I walked into an abortion clinic with bubble gum in my ears and eyelids taped shut, would they force me to remove them?