If you live long enough you get to see lots of trends and transitions.
Politically, that’s the case for those of us who’ve spent a substantial amount of time in Texas, a state that once was “blue” before Democrats got tagged with that color label. Then it turned “red” — bigly, if you will.
I arrived in the Golden Triangle in the spring of 1984 to take up my post on the editorial page of the Beaumont Enterprise. The Triangle was among the last “Yellow Dog Democrat” bastions in Texas. That designation ID’d those who’d rather for a “yellow dog” than vote for a Republican. Its strong union movement voting bloc, along with its hefty African-American population, stayed true to their Democratic roots.
Then it began to change. Slowly, but inexorably, right along with the rest of the state.
Over time, Republicans captured long-held Democratic public offices.
These days, the state is about as Republican as any in the nation. The GOP occupies every statewide office. The last Democrat to win a statewide race was in 1998. That’s two decades, man!
Decades later, the state might on the verge of entering another transition stage.
Don’t misconstrue my reasons for welcoming the change. My major reason for rooting for a resurgent Democratic Party is my desire to keep the other major party, the GOP, more accountable for the decisions its officeholders make.
Believe this or not — and you are entitled to disbelieve it if you wish — but I was leery of total Democratic control upon my arrival in Texas. I felt that Democratic pols took voters for granted, much like Republicans do today. And I said so at the time using my forum at the Enterprise.
Are we going to see a sweep of all statewide offices on the ballot in 2018? Hardly. My strong sense is that Republicans will maintain their vise grip on most of the state offices being contested. You know already that I want one of those GOP seats to flip: the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by the Cruz Missile, Ted Cruz, who is running against El Paso Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke; I’ll likely have much more on that contest later.
There might be a more competitive climate up and down the ballot as well. Democrats might be able to declare some sort of moral victory if they make Republican foes squirm.
That is not a bad thing for the general well-being of a state’s general political health.
My hope, thus, for a more “purple” hue does spring eternal.