Chris Bell, investing in Texas Democrats, and why his examples support NOT investing in TX Dems

Chris Bell wrote a piece for the Texas Tribuned this last week called, "Why you should invest in Texas Democrats" in response to Ross Ramsey's column that asks "why anyone (read: trial lawyers) still invests in [Texas Democrats]?" Bell's answer:

[for] exactly the same reason that folks like George H.W. Bush, Robert Mosbacher Sr. and H.L. Hunt continued to invest in Texas Republicans when they were in "the basement" and didn't seem capable of winning a statewide race: because they believed in the Republican Party and what it stood for, and they knew that if they stopped investing, their candidates, instead of just being underdogs, would stand absolutely no chance whatsoever.

That's a pretty flawed metaphor. Texas' political ideology is and always has been rightward of center on the political spectrum. The Texas Republican Party is rightward of center and has always been to the right of the Texas Democratic Party. For historical reasons, Republicans weren't a viable option during the timeframe that Bell references, but they had a huge advantage: the same ideology as Texans.

Really. Bad. Example. Texas Democrats have long been a viable option, but they are a center-left party in a center-right state. Bell's example is the diametrically opposed situation, and in fact argues against investing in Democrats.

Bell continues in his second paragraph with some banalities that don't deserve comment. On to the third paragraph:

Perhaps the media has failed to notice, and perhaps we as Democrats have done a less-than-stellar job explaining, but there are significant differences between the two major parties.

Given that Republicans repeatedly win every single one of a ridiculously long ballot of statewide offices, it's a reasonable assumption that Texans have noticed quite well that there are significant differences between the parties.

Most Democrats believe we could be doing much better at educating our children and providing opportunity for the less fortunate; we believe in equality, abhor racism and think our God wants us to take care of the planet he has blessed us with. Meanwhile, Republicans . . .

Chris Bell not very subtly insinuates that Republicans are racists. Yeah. Next step: involving Hitler in the argument somehow.

With today's media, it's quite likely that Ronald Reagan would have been pilloried and ridiculed and reduced to such a level that he would have never stood a chance of actually winning.

This is LOL bad for anyone who has ever read any presidential campaign history. He was ridiculed, pillored and...he emerged completely unscathed through it all to become the Teflon president.

Despite Bell's poor attempt at persuasion, I tend to agree that a competitive Democratic party is in the best interest of Texas. Unfortunately, to this point, Democrats are not a particularly competitive party because they fail to understand why Republicans win in Texas: Republicans are more fundamentally in tune on the issues that Texas voters care about. If Democrats want to win -- and be worthy of investment -- they have to move to the center and become competitive. It's not exactly rocket science, and if they want to know how to do it, they only need to study how Republicans win gubernatorial election in uber-blue Massachusetts. To date, Democrats haven't learned any of those lessons.

Chris Bell certainly hasn't learned those lessons. But then again, he's the guy who said that any Democratic nominee could be a corpse and get 31% percent of the statewide vote...and he got 29.8% of the vote.

Posted by Evan @ 12/19/10 05:36 AM


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