I went poking around the web to see if there were any signs that Ricardo Sanchez was actually assembling something resembling a serious campaign when I stumbled across some intriguing comments from one J. R. Behrman, a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee of the Texas Democratic Party. It’s always good to keep tabs on the other side, especially when there’s dissension in their ranks, and judging by these comments (pulled from down in the page), Mr. Behrman is not a happy camper:
The “Texas right of center electorate” is a construct of pimp-consultants simultaneously raising money while picking “winners” — meaning losers — namely, candidates, races, and — surprise — themselves as campaign consultants. With a few up and coming sycophants they can spend the money on “likely voter” campaigns featuring a decades-old mix of racially segmented media messages, “GOTV”, and proprietary technologies they get a portion of the license fee from.
These packaged candidate/campaign deals are peddled to the “Big Money Boys”. But, this has been so unsuccessful for so long, one wonders if it can be done any longer.
The AFL-CIO has been fleeced and given up on this.
There is, maybe, one rich, bored, living lawyer left dumping big bucks into a media campaign of his own design that does not appear to involve any actual candidates.
Meanwhile, the GOP has an actually proficient small-donor campaign fund-raising and mobilization machine based on a common technology — the same one Obama brought to Texas in 2008 but has since folded or withdrawn.
The GOP technology is nothing the same-old, same-old SDEC would even consider a competitive alternative to. They have a really great licensing deal on the VAN. The SDEC is an awards banquet for sycophants, not a strategic or technology forum.
So, Rick Sanchez can re-run the Wes Clark nomination campaign and defeat his likely opponent … nobody.
But, how does he win the general election Bill White just lost persuasively and expensively, …
If the party can not raise enough money to keep the doors open on the Little Office, …
If the Big Donors are tapped-out, dead, or, simply, looking at zero return on their “investments”, …
If the Obama campaign uses its operation in Texas to harvest volunteers and money for battleground states, and …
If the party establishment itself has nothing to stand on or run on but “ain’t it awful hand-wringing and grand-standing by districted incumbents with no race to run, and 70′s-vintage “celebrate diversity” identity politics masking zero-sum patronage among street-level race-hustlers?
And more, further down:
The SDEC has no plans or standards, just a mix of written and unwritten rules that are selectively enforced so as to perpetuate a patently failed party establishment in Austin — a Speaker’s Claque (with no Speaker).
This is how the State Legislature worked “back in the day” when we dominated bi-partisan concession-tending regime in Austin that the GOP has now hijacked. Clearly, that regime is no longer bi-partisan, but we still wallow in nostalgia for it, conduct our business habitually, and cling to the “center-right electorate” theory and “likely voter” corollary, consultants, and voter file. Those all used to work. But, the world changed in 1994 and 2000. The TDP and, for that matter, the DSCC/DCCC has not yet adjusted.
Delegate votes in the state convention — apart from ex-officio delegates — reflect the actual distribution of Democratic voters. Composition of the SDEC favors GOP voters and those in the lobby as administer the party’s McGovern-era racial quotas and patronage. This is a formula for rewarding sycophancy, not proficiency.
So, SDEC meetings are stuffed with non-voting members, honorific resolutions, and time-wasting ritual. There is simply no time to seriously or fairly consider questions, such as the employment of Ed Martin, that are sprung on the body by the staff and protected by the Palace Guard.
From cycle to cycle, the celebratory happy-talk results in catastrophic losses every eight years. In my tenure, the SDEC has become more defensive and apologetic rather than imaginative and critical.
I and others on the SDEC do come forward from Senate Districts outside of Austin with lots of both actual and potential Democratic voters or loyalists and small donors.
We bring constructive proposals that relate to increasing turnout of new and old, rural and urban, “base voters” using technologies and techniques that do not involve kick-backs and cross-subsidies to the Austin-based hangers-on and auxiliaries. But, these are quashed in committee by the Palace Guard and the hired help.
Statewide candidates, self-funded or pimped-out to their own bundler/consultants, just ignore the state party establishment which is, indeed, so negligent as to let the LaRouch cult get on the primary ballot steal votes and time from legitimate Democrats.
The likely-voter and center-right nonsense, is just the half-baked rationale for “keeping on, keeping on”, turning the state into a “red-state” bastion, keeping it there, but promising to “turn Texas blue” Real Soon Now without even discussing much less rectifying profound problems of party governance and finance.
While I would no doubt disagree with Mr. Behrman about most political issues, I find his comments quite interesting for two reasons:
- He attacks both the corrupt (pimp-consultants, Big Donors) and insane (“70′s-vintage ‘celebrate diversity’ identity politics masking zero-sum patronage among street-level race-hustlers”) wings of the Democratic Party with equal vigor.
- Some quibbles aside (I think the center-right status of the Texas electorate is an objective fact), most of his criticisms strike me as dead-on. The state Democratic Party has been largely ineffectual, and its reliance on corrupt street-level hustlers to get out the vote (and commit vote fraud in the process) certainly haven’t helped it’s reputation.
Nor is this the first time Mr. Behrman has expressed these frustrations:
The Democratic Party establishment in Texas and Harris County are artifacts of a bi-partisan concession-tending regime that lasted statewide from 1824 to 1994 and persists on City Council to this day. This establishment lacks proficiency and purpose – now that tort reform is a done deal and they have no alternative to debt-driven fiscal austerity at every echelon of government.
So the prospects for winning statewide, countywide, and even citywide elections in 2011-12 are not good. There have been essentially no lessons learned from victories in 2008 or losses in 2010. “Wave Election!” is an excuse, not an analysis or a plan. The same consultants will be doing the same thing with the same tools but without the benefit of an Obama primary campaign here in Texas next year.
Apart from dismay at the effects of national, state, county, and city austerity, there will be little motivation and no money trickling down from national politics unless and until we turn things around here on the ground … dramatically. The patronage-oriented base vote will be no better than 2010 and the (2008-vintage) “new base vote” will be hard to motivate, locate, or mobilize. It is true that on the margin there is still some ‘bloc voting’ by various interest groups. But that is not the way the politics of age, ethnicity, class, and gender work in “majority-minority” counties like Harris, for one. So we are going to have to adopt Obama-type political methods and messages if we expect results like 2008.
He seems to be seeking a “mid-left progressive populist” position between toadying up to big business/big labor/big government interests (bailed-out banks, trial lawyers, etc.) and the party’s Identity Politics brigades and their race-hustling poverty-pimp enablers. This would theoretically enable the party to grow more middle class support for its redistributive policies. I rather doubt it.
But while I differ with Mr. Behrman’s prescribed course of treatment, I do think he has admirably identified a number of the symptoms.
How widely spread are Mr. Behrman’s sentiments? Being very far indeed away from the center of the Texas Democratic Party, I would not venture to estimate. My guess is that the sentiments themselves are fairly widely shared, but that few are inclined toward his suggestions…