January 25th, 2013

Browncoat party

Looking for the Median Texan Voter

I just saw an interesting article on a Democratic Party plan to make Texas a swing state. I'm all for having competitive elections here. Right now my only chance to have a significant impact is by voting in the Republican primary for both state and local elections. There are "blue" areas in Texas, but Tarrant county is not one of them.

The plan the Dems are raising money for doesn't thrill me. Apparently they've written off everyone in Texas who currently votes Republican and want to change the electorate by bringing new voters to the polls. It's not a terrible idea in practical terms, blacks and Hispanics have low turnout (even aside from citizenship issues) and there's a lot of people newly arrived from more liberal states. So they might be able to shift the balance with new voters. Overcoming a 13% deficit is a tough hurdle though.

I want Texas to have competitive elections. One-party states become corrupt. California is well on the way to a economic collapse because the lack of constraint on their dominant party has led to excessive spending on favored constituencies and driving out the productive businesses with taxes and regulations. Texas is in good shape economically for now. So far our troubles tend to be abuse of law enforcement authority and bureaucrats not performing their jobs. The less the politicians fear losing their power the more they'll abuse it.

In theory our two-party system should have each one pulling in close to 50% of the vote. Each party would be chasing the "median Texan voter" by staking out a set of policy positions that appeal to the voters in the center who can tip the balance. Instead the Texas Democrats have aligned themselves with the national median voter by sticking with the policy positions of the national party. So in the 2010 governor's race the Dem got about the same percentage of the vote as Obama did in Texas in 2012.

To be truly competitive the Texas Democrats should appeal to voters on Texan issues. The Texas Youth Commission scandal should've been an election issue. Eminent domain, forced annexation (cities forcing rural areas to pay taxes to them), prosecutorial abuse, drug war false arrests--there isn't a shortage of things to talk about. The hard part would be abandoning issues that the national party is wedded to so they can appeal to Texans. Not nominating a gubernatorial candidate who joined a gun control group would be a start.

It'd be easier if the national government didn't control so much of our lives. The more power the federal government takes on the more voters will focus on that when casting their ballots. So Californians automatically vote Democratic even as the state goes deeper into debt and Texans vote Republican regardless of how many screw-ups there are. If we reduced the power Washington DC holds voters could relax and focus more on concerns closer to them.