Posts Tagged ‘Ruy Teixeira’

In Which Democratic Dreams of a Hispanic-Driven Blue State Texas Come A Cropper

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

As fewer and fewer Democrats were elected in Texas over the past two decades, liberals would console themselves with the thought that demographics were on their side. “Just you wait, Hispanics will turn Texas back into a blue state.” Indeed, the likes of Ruy Teixeira considered the triumph of Democrats riding an ever-rising tides of Hispanic immigrants to permanent majority party status all but inevitable.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Blue State Nirvana: Illegal alien amnesty failed, even with Democratic majorities in both House and Senate, depriving Democrats of what they assumed were certain Democratic voters. And thanks to both the recession and various state-level illegal alien measures in places like Arizona and Alabama, illegal aliens are now leaving the United States faster than they’re entering it.

Worse still for Texas Democrats, Republicans suddenly became successful at wooing Hispanic voters and recruiting high profile Hispanic candidates, many of whom won.

Now fast forward to 2012. After the Ricardo Sanchez’s withdrawl from the senate campaign, there are now absolutely no Hispanic Democrats running a statewide race in Texas this year. As horrible and lackluster a candidate as Sanchez was, at least you could see him protecting down-ballot races. But now Republicans will have at least one Hispanic (incumbent Judge Elsa Alcala of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 8) and as many as three (including incumbent Judge David Medina in Texas Supreme Court Place 4), one of whom, Ted Cruz, could be the top statewide name on the ballot.

Hell, even the Libertarians (Texas Railroad Commission Place 2) and the Greens (U.S. Senate) managed to find Hispanic candidates to run statewide. That’s a major Hispandering failure for the Texas Democratic Party. And to add insult to injury, by failing to run a candidate for Railroad Commission Place 2, where the Greens do have a candidate, Democrats have pretty much ensured that Greens will continue to qualify for automatic ballot access (and thus continue to leach liberal votes away from them).

In an ideal world, people would choose all their candidates based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. In the real world, ethnic identification does affect voting patterns. Even a few percentage points of Hispanic voters crossing the aisle to vote for Cruz rather than straight-ticket Democratic might be enough for Republicans to pick up a handful of down ballot races.

And that dream of a Blue State Texas grows still more distant.

In Which I Come Perilously Close to Defending Lloyd Doggett

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Paul Burka has a post up in which he basically makes two arguments:

  1. Republicans are trying to Gerrymander white Democrats out of Congress; and

  2. “Almost no one has done as much damage to the Democratic cause” in Texas as Lloyd Doggett.

He is mistaken, to differing degrees, in both beliefs.

As for the first, Republicans are trying to Gerrymander as many Democrats as possible out of their congressional seats, white, black, Hispanic or purple, just as Democrats ruthlessly Gerrymandered Republicans out of congressional seats when they had control of redistricting. (Remember, Texas never had as many as three Republicans serving in the U.S. House of Representatives at the same time until James M. Collins joined George H. W. Bush and Bob Price in 1969, despite Texas voters preferring Republican Presidential candidates in 1928, 1952, and 1956.) It’s just that the Voting Rights Act makes it so much easier to do it against white Democrats than minority Democrats.

As for the second, anyone who has been reading this blog for any appreciable length of time should realize that I have no particular fondness for Rep. Doggett. However, laying the lion’s share of the Democratic Party’s precipitous decline in Texas at the feet of Doggett’s unsuccessful Senate campaign is both misguided and deeply ahistorical.

First of all, it was a lot less obvious in 1984 that Doggett was too liberal to win (though he was) than the fact that nobody was going to beat Phil Gramm. After Democrats threw him off the House Budget Committee for supporting the Kemp-Roth tax cuts and co-sponsoring the Gramm-Latta budget reconciliation bill, Gramm resigned from his House seat and ran for it again as a Republican, winning overwhelmingly and turning himself into a folk hero for doing so. In the Republican primary he creamed Robert Mosbacher, Jr. and Ron Paul, and then thumped Doggett by 900,000 votes. Nobody was going to beat Gramm that year, even if Kent Hance had managed to defeat Doggett. And remember that after losing to Doggett in the Democratic Primary, Hance switched to the Republican Party the very next year. Even back then, it was apparent that conservatives had no future in the Democratic Party.

Further, fingering Doggett as the cause of the Texas Democratic Party’s decline ignores the pronounced decline in the fortunes of the Democratic Party in every state south of the Mason-Dixon line over the last 32 years, as the so-called “Reagan Democrats” have fled the party in droves in both the South and Midwest thanks to its unwavering drive for bigger government and higher taxes. That can be laid at Doggett’s feet only insofar as he was one of several hundred Democratic elites pushing their party relentlessly left, no matter the electoral cost.

And as for Burka’s starting that “How could [Doggett] have had so little self-awareness as to not know that he had was too liberal to win a statewide race?”, two points:

  • There’s a reason they have elections: you never know with 100% surety how they’ll turn out until they actually occur. Remember the infamous Newsweek poll that had Walter Mondale leading Reagan by 18 points right after the Democratic National Convention? Here’s another way to ask the question: “Shouldn’t Bill Clinton have known that Bush was invulnerable when he got into the Presidential race in 1991?” Nor did Doggett’s liberalism keep him from being elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1988.
  • Second, not recognizing that Democrats have become too liberal for the general electorate is by no means limited to Doggett; indeed, it is arguably the defining characteristic of the modern Democratic Party. For years they’ve been listening to the likes of John P. Judis and Ruy Teixeira proclaiming them the country’s “natural majority party,” and there was no shortage of Democratic triumphalism confidently predicting how the Republican Party was “finished” after the 2008 election, and how well Democrats were going to do in 2010 once voters realized how awesome ObamaCare was. The comforting, anesthetizing Liberal Reality Bubble conspires to let them continually “get high on their own supply,” managing to convince themselves that America the Liberal is just around the corner. Even today, even in Texas: just look at all those members of the statewise MSM lamenting that Republicans are actually following the voting public’s wishes by shrinking state government rather than listening to them and their liberal friends and raising taxes.
  • There are numerous reasons why the Texas Democratic Party has gone from the overwhelming majority party in Texas to a rump minority party, the biggest one being that their misguided policies of big government liberalism are objectively wrong, financially ruinous and extremely unpopular. But Doggett is only an outstanding exemplar of the problem, not the cause of it.

    (PS: Also remember that in 1992, Burka was blaming the Texas Democratic Party’s decline on Bill Clinton’s unwillingness to seriously contest the state against Bush41.)

    The Magic of Self-Delusion (or Why Nancy Pelosi Would Rather Die Than Let You Keep Your Own Money)

    Monday, December 13th, 2010

    The deal Obama struck to extended all the Bush tax cuts is good for America, and also good for the Republican Party. When it was struck, however, the liberal howls of outrage made me think of one other outcome which, while not as good for the nation, would be even better for Republicans: If Nancy Pelosi blocked the deal, the Bush tax cuts (and long-term unemployment) temporarily lapse until the new Republican House takes over in January, at which point they pass a tax cut extension at least as strong as the Obama deal, and probably stronger. So in order to make the point how opposed Democrats are to letting rich people (or “rich” people) keep their own money, they’re willing to let the long-term unemployed stop getting checks for a month (and probably longer), delay economic recovery at least that long, let Republicans pick up an even bigger victory and take all the credit for the deal, make Obama look weaker and make the Democratic Party in general, and Pelosi’s House Democrats in particular, look even more petulant, shrill, and extreme.

    That appears to be exactly what’s going to happen. It’s like some perfect storm of liberal fail.

    The reasons why House Democrats are undertaking such counterproductive and self-destructive behavior probably requires the insights of a psychiatrist more than a political scientist. In the 2010 elections, voters rejected the liberal agenda about as thoroughly as any domestic political agenda has been rejected in our lifetimes. After two years of trying to push the most liberal agenda since LBJ’s “Great Society” expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s, Democrats suffered massive losses, most dramatically in the House, for a switch of 63 seats. For a graphic depiction of how thoroughly liberalism has been rejected, take a look at this Real Clear Politics map of incoming House seats:

    Not only are liberals unwilling to consider why their agenda was rejected by voters, they’re unwilling to even consider that their agenda was rejected. Rather than face up to that unpleasant fact, the nutroots have embraced a far more psychologically satisfying (if political suicidal) explanation for their tidal wave of defeats: Democrats lost the 2010 Election because they just weren’t liberal enough:

    I’m sure I could come up with 10-15 other examples. It’s like that episode of The Critic where Jay Sherman remembers being rejected by a woman he was trying to pick up: “Eww, I don’t like that memory at all! Let’s look at it again through the magic of self-delusion!” All those congressmen lost because they just weren’t as awesomely liberal as I am! High five! Inside the liberal reality bubble, the Democratic Party’s biggest mistake was getting Blue Dog Democrats to run in marginal districts in the first place, and if they had just run people with positions closer to Nancy Pelosi or Alan Grayson in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, they would have done better.

    Of course, outside the liberal reality bubble, this idea is a laughably naive exercise in vainglorious wish fulfillment. It’s also easily disproven. Take a look at the contrasting fates of Tom Perriello and Jason Altmire.

    Perriello was the golden boy Democratic freshman Representative from Virginia who was not only the darling of liberals, but also loftily declared that he would rather vote for ObamaCare and be defeated than vote against it and be re-elected. Democrats pulled out all the stops to save his seat, sending him $1.6 million over a 10-day period and having Obama appear personally on his behalf. If the nutroots theory that liberals just needed a candidate worth fighting for to lure them to the polls to assure victory were correct, Perriello should have been a shoe-in. He lost.

    Altmire, by contrast, was one of those loathsome “Blue Dog Democrats” that so many liberals feel are merely Republicans in disguise. He voted against ObamaCare. If liberal theories were correct, disheartened liberals should have assured his defeat. He won in a year that fellow Blue Dogs who voted for ObamaCare were being slaughtered.

    So the current Pelosi-lead liberal temper tantrum is impossible to explain given the objective political needs of the Democratic Party. However, it’s all too easy to explain given the psychological needs of liberals.

    For years liberals have believed that majority status (like The New York Times and black voters) was their unquestioned birthright. Never mind that between 1968 and 2004, a Democratic Presidential candidate had topped 50% of the popular vote exactly once (the post-Watergate Jimmy Carter, who managed to garner a whopping 50.08% of the popular vote in 1976). For them, Republican victories were aberrations from the supposed norm. They truly believed that America was a “center-left” nation, despite polls consistently showing twice as many Americans identified themselves as conservatives rather than liberals. They believed people like John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira who assured them Democrats were the natural majority party, and would take over their natural role as lords of the earth any day now.

    And then the 2006 and 2008 election seemed to confirm the theory. Yes! This was it! This was their moment! Finally all of their dreams would come true! Obama was one of them, and with the House and Senate firmly in Democratic control, he would completely replace all the intolerable policies of his predecessor, “that idiot Bush.” He would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, close down Guantanamo Bay, legalize gay marriage, use Keynesian economics to fix the economy, and nationalize health care. The liberal moment had arrived at last. It was so close they could taste it.

    But a funny thing happened on the way to the liberal nirvana. What the rest of us call “real life,” and what liberals attributed to an ever-expanding cast of villains (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Rasmussen Reports) they lumped together as “the right-wing noise machine” inexplicably rose up to thwart their righteous will. The economy stayed broke, and if the Stimulus did anything it made it worse. The Tea Party happened. Cap-and-Trade went down in flames. Obama figured out that Bush’s anti-terror policies weren’t bad at all now that he was the one who had to deal with the problems. Democrats managed to pull the Zombie ObamaCare over the finish-line despite widespread opposition, but it was a far cry from the glorious platonic idea of a fully nationalized, single-payer system that existed in their mind’s eye (and nowhere else). Then the voters, the same voters liberals believed in their heart of hearts was naturally liberal, rejected them. They were like a football team a mere quarter away from winning the Superbowl, only to have the opposing team rack up three touchdowns on them in the last five minutes. How can this be happening? What did I do to deserve this?

    When a party gets walloped in an election, usually it takes time to reflect on why voters might have rejected its message, and what parts of that message (and the party) need to be changed. If you’ve seen All That Jazz (and if you haven’t, you should; it’s a great movie), then you’re probably familiar with the Kubler-Ross grief cycle: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Obama has moved on to at least the third stage, but House Democrats and the nutroots can’t get past the first two.

    Conservatives have many interests that might supersede politics: Family, jobs, religion. But for many liberals, the political is personal. As far as they’re concerned, there’s Good (represented by Big Government run by liberals and doing the things liberals want it to do), and there’s Evil (big business (unless its unionized), rich people (unless they went to the right schools), Fox News, etc.). They believe the same things all their Facebook friends and newspapers and TV shows and NPR agree with! It’s inconceivable to them that people of good will might disagree with them.

    After all, they’re Good! The other side is Evil! That’s why they write books with names like What’s Wrong With Kansas? rather than Why Can’t We Convince Kansas To Embrace Higher Taxes and Bigger Government? They’ve spent the last 20-years believing that voters are liberals, so it’s impossible that voters rejected liberalism itself. That would be tantamount to voters saying they rejected them personally. That’s unpossible! After all, they’re awesome! No, this could only have been happened because the voters have been tricked. Liberalism didn’t lose, liberalism was stabbed in the back. Hence the hunt for traitors and scapegoats that snatched away their prize at the last moment.

    To actually listen to what voters were telling them would mean abandoning the worldview that they’ve clung to so fervently for so long. Thus every bit of cognitive dissonance only makes them cling more fervently to the belief that voters haven’t, didn’t, couldn’t reject liberalism itself. After all, they’re awesome, aren’t they? Aren’t they? Voters sent them a message good and hard, but they have to deny it, because their denial is all they have left. Liberalism can never fail, because whenever it appears to, then ipso facto it wasn’t really liberalism that was failing, just like Communist apologists claim that all those failed Communist states weren’t really Communist, because communism never fails inside the platonic fantasyland of their Marxist imaginations.

    And into this seething cauldron of anger and denial comes Obama, blithely announcing the deal to extend the Bush Tax Cuts. After all, Obama still has to govern the nation for the next two years. Clearly the economy is isn’t responding to Obamanomics, so something else needs to be done. And if the Bush Tax Cuts expire, Obama knows that Democrats are the ones that will get the blame for the biggest tax hike in history. So he cut the best deal he thought he could, knowing he would have even less leverage after the Republican House took over in January.

    In essence, Obama was saying that voters had indeed rejected liberalism. He was ruining their denial! Here was their traitor at last: Obama the secret Republican.

    So the House, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, decided to stand and fight on the only issue that seems to unite their base: Their hatred of the wealthy, and their love of other people’s money. The idea that money might belong to the people that actually earned it, rather than the federal government, fills them with rage. Here was their line in the sand: We have to screw the rich, even if it means screwing the poor and the middle class in the process! Even if it makes them more unpopular. Even if the Republicans will just pass a deal even less to their liking in January. So they have to oppose extending the Bush tax cuts, even though it will make the rest of the nation think they’re even more petty, vindictive, and out-of-touch than they already did. When it comes to preserving their wounded egos, rationality goes out the window. If it comes down to voters rejecting liberalism, or liberals rejecting reality, then to hell with reality. It’s no longer about policy, it’s about pride.

    And pride goeth before a fall.

    Gentlemen, Your Crow

    Sunday, January 24th, 2010

    Given the huge upheaval in the political landscape following Scott Brown’s upset victory in the Massachusetts senatorial race, I thought it was time to revisit what many in the liberal punditocracy were saying following Obama’s victory in 2008. There may very well have been some liberal commentators advising caution and restraint, least liberal ambitions and hubris lay the Democratic party low. However, I don’t remember any of them. What I do remember is numerous notables bandying about phrases like “the Republican Party is finished” and “permanent progressive majority.” Let’s exhume that commentary from its dusty vaults (some over a year old; very dusty indeed in Internet years) and see who might be dining tonight in Hell on a generous, tasty helping of fricasseed crow.

    For example, here’s The New Republic‘s John B. Judis in an article entitled “America the Liberal” published November 19, 2008 explaining how Obama’s election heralded a fundamental realignment in American politics:

    If Obama and congressional Democrats act boldly, they can not only arrest the downturn but also lay the basis for an enduring majority. As was the case with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, many of the measures necessary to combat today’s recession will also help ensure long-term Democratic electoral success. Many Southerners remained Democrats for generations in part because of Roosevelt’s rural electrification program; a similar program for bringing broadband to the hinterland could lure these voters back to the Democratic Party. And national health insurance could play the same role in Democrats’ future prospects that Social Security played in the perpetuation of the New Deal majority.

    -snip-

    The Republican Party will be divided and demoralized after this defeat. And, just as the Great Depression took Prohibition and the other great social issues of the 1920s off the popular agenda, this downturn has pushed aside the culture war of the last decades. It simply wasn’t a factor in the presidential election.

    If, however, Obama and the Democrats take the advice of official Washington and go slow–adopting incremental reforms, appeasing adversaries that have lost their clout–they could end up prolonging the downturn and discrediting themselves.

    Or alternately, ObamaCare could doom that same realignment in less than a year after he took office. And of all the complaints about the Obama-Reid-Pelosi policy initiatives that Massachusetts voters voiced, I’m pretty sure that “going too slow” wasn’t among them. (Also, I think Sarah Palin and company might take issue with the assertion that the culture war “simply wasn’t a factor in the presidential election.”)

    For another example, take Judis’ sometimes-collaborator, liberal demographer Ruy Teixeira, who has been predicting a “permanent democratic majority” for about as long as I can remember. In March 2009, his study “New Progressive America: Twenty Years of Demographic, Geographic, and Attitudinal Changes Across the Country Herald a New Progressive Majority” had this to say:

    “At this point in our history, progressive arguments combined with the continuing demographic and geographic changes are tilting our country in a progressive direction—trends should take America down a very different road than has been traveled in the last eight years. A new progressive America is on the rise.”

    Sunset seems to have come remarkably quickly for that “new progressive America.”

    For the wisdom of another old Democratic party hand, let’s see what Robert Shrum (who managed just about every losing Democratic presidential campaign in living memory) had to say in The Week on September 22, 2009 about the political climate:

    “After this summer of discontent, Republicans think they can ride a wave of bitter tea to electoral victory. Once the tide runs out, they will be left high and dry. After health reform passes, probably with the help of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, Republicans will crawl out of their hole to assail it in the campaigns ahead as ‘socialism’ or worse.”

    With such vaunted prognostication skills, I can’t imagine how Schrum’s campaigns could possibly have failed.

    The day after the 2008 election, Dan Conley of prominent left-wing blog MyDD proclaimed the “Death of the Center-Right Myth”:

    “The CRM is dead. Long live the New Liberal America.”

    However, he tempered his prediction with this: “Liberalism succeeds when Americans feel their faith in government restored. It won’t happen overnight … it’s a process that will probably outlive the Obama administration.”

    Not only did Obama not restore America’s “faith” in government, the project itself didn’t make it a fourth of the way through Obama’s term.

    Here’s another MyDDer, Todd Beeton, on November 9, 2008, saying that Americans had come around to the Democrat’s views on the virtues of big government, saying “Republicans Should Keep Running Against Big Government & Higher Taxes: That would be awesome.”

    Well, Mr. Beeton, it appears that Scott Brown took your advice. I don’t think he garnered the results you were expecting.

    (Confession: I went looking for similarly clueless pronouncements among the more prominent ranks of the Daily Kos Kids, and wasn’t able to find them, possibly because in the weeks after the 2008 election they seemed completely obsessed with ranting against the unimaginable perfidy of Joseph Lieberman.)

    Here’s a story called “Requiem for the Republican Party” by a Mike Whitney (a self-proclaimed Libertarian) on a site called The Market Oracle on May 6, 2009. It’s, um, somewhat less than oracular:

    “The poor GOP isn’t really even a party anymore; it’s more like a vaudeville troupe scuttling from one backwater to the next performing the same worn slapstick. They’ve simply become irrelevant, a ‘non-party’ that no one pays much attention to apart from the occasional zinger on the Daily Show or Letterman. In truth, the GOP is so deeply-traumatized from their shocking fall from power, they’d probably benefit from a spell on the couch. Perhaps if they spent a few weeks in therapy, they’d see what a mess they’ve made of everything….The Republican party is finished. Stick a fork in it.”

    I don’t think I’ll be taking stock-picking advice from Mr. Whitney anytime soon.

    In the more obscure corners of the web, take a look at the retrospectively hilarious map that one Dan Chmielewski offers up from Gallup on a site called The Liberal OC. It features Texas as a “competitive state” and Oklahoma as a “leaning Democratic” state. You know, the same Oklahoma that had just gone for McCain over Obama by 66% to 34%. It also notes that Massachusetts is the second most liberal state in the union.

    How quickly things change.

    Finally, it should be noted that it’s not only liberals who believed Republicans would be losing for the foreseeable future. Take perhaps the most singular example of that rarest of species, the “Pro-Obama Conservative,” New York Times columnist David Brooks, who proclaimed that “Traditionalists” would lead the party to defeat until “Reformers” (i.e., people who act, talk, and think precisely like urbane, mannered moderates like David Brooks) finally took control. “The reformers tend to believe that American voters will not support a party whose main idea is slashing government.” Mr. Brooks further states (and this is a real quote, not an Iowahawk parody) that “They cannot continue to insult the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts.”

    Heaven forfend that sensibilities be insulted! Why if they continue to do that, all they can hope to achieve is seizing Ted Kennedy’s old seat! Their failure is assured.

    Gentlemen, dinner is served:

    Postscript: Some may consider all the above a blatant case of schadenfreude. Well, yes. But that’s not the only reason to post it.

    First, when your political opponents say something amazingly stupid, you have to call them on it. There’s a small chance they might learn better, and a larger chance that the populace at large will start to discount their opinions once they discover just how demonstrably divorced from reality those opinions are.

    Second, I wanted to demonstrate how easy it was, in the flush of victory, to make unwise, sweeping statements that are very likely to look quite foolish at some point in the future. Generally, statements about the “unstoppable” electoral rise of one political faction or another (or, to use that hoary old chestnut of the left, “historical inevitability”) are going to be proven wrong sooner or later. There are no permanent political victories in a democratic society. It is possible for individuals (or even, as the Whigs found out, entire political parties) to lose so badly they never recover, but the game goes on. In this light, extrapolating Scott Brown’s win to proclaim the inevitability of widespread Republican gains this November would be equally foolish and ill-advised. Such gains now look entirely possible, especially if Republicans, tea party members, conservatives, etc. are willing to put in the time, effort, and hard work to make it so, but they are by no means inevitable. Or, to paraphrase Instapundit: “Great win, kid. Now don’t get cocky.”