This year in Texas, for the first time since 2008, we of the Green persuasion have no candidates politically aligned with us. There may be a few Democrats with progressive reputations and policy positions, except for those one or two positions that are deal-breakers. It's difficult to find anyone on the ballot, at any level, who explicitly favors
- swift and decisive action to combat climate change
- not funding or supporting the genocide in Yemen, Palestine, and elsewhere
- Medicare for All
- ending capital punishment and mass incarceration
- free in-state college tuition and forgiveness of student debt
Yeah, most of these are issues that candidates for Land Commissioner or Justice of the Peace would find outside their purview. Candidates for any office in Texas can still take a soundly progressive position on matters germane to that office. Whether they can expect to win the nomination in a Democratic Party with those positions is another matter.
Speaking of positions on issues, this would be a good time to remind folks heading to the polls the peek at the League of Women Voters guide, available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Wait, what? "Pity Party"? Who wrote that header, anyway?
This post is not intended as a Green Pity Party. I don't care whether readers of this post sympathize or not. I'm just stating the facts and my feelings about them so readers can understand my perspective (if they choose to understand). But I must admit that I feel as though I'm missing the real party, the celebration of the Blue Wave Rising.
Not having Greens for whom to vote, even as official write-ins, is frustrating. The current political picture compounds the frustration, as Progressives we love dearly have invested their hopes in Robert Francis O'Rourke. These Progressives include some longtime and not-so-longtime Green activists. These are the "smart" Progressives who have managed to quell the heartache of No Greens on the Ballot by adopting the Sk8r Boy from El Paso as one of their own.
Compounding it further, my county Green Party imploded earlier this year. SUX2BU, DBC.
Let's not forget that the Democratic herd has an ace up its collective sleeve: that Republicans are in charge in Austin and Washington, and thus everything sucks, and electing Democrats will at least make it suck less. However, Democratic candidates in Texas still act as if it's impossible to get elected if they embrace a fully Progressive agenda. It's the one thing they haven't tried in the last 24 years of futility. They can't get elected as a prerequisite to saving the world, and they can't promise to save the world as a prerequisite to getting elected.
Kool-Aid Is Against My Religion
Like that lone atheist in a small-Texas-town high school class—the one who just can't be persuaded of the existence of one or more deities, who feels left out of the social scene because of it, who considers the Bible a worthy work of fiction, and who can quote Scripture and explain its subtext better than the active Christians—being the kid who doesn't get Betomania feels a bit lonely. The atheist can pretend to believe and be included; the Progressive who remains suspicious of Democrats can go along to get along, posting pro-Beto memes on social media and basking in the admiration of Democratic-voting friends.
The Progressive can also remain true to his or her principles and keep reminding folks that capitalism is the disease, the "two-party system" is the enemy, and the Obama-Biden-Clinton crew loved drone-bombing and deporting people. It troubles me that I cannot tell friends who ask, "Since there ain't no Green on the ballot I'm voting straight Blue!"
To a peace-loving Progressive, any candidate at any level who overlooks the evil wrought by Democrats over the decades, who campaigns with or otherwise associates with Team Clinton-Obama, clearly approves of government of/by/for the military-petrochemical-financial-pharmaceutical complex. As I mentioned previously, I cannot bring myself to vote for such a candidate.
Run Left, Texas Dems—Srsly
Our alleged president was in Houston yesterday, allegedly campaigning for Beto's opponent. He spoke for 90 minutes, they say. In those 90 minutes, he scarcely spoke the words "Ted" and "Cruz." Governor Greg Abbott and Lite Guv Dan Patrick took the stage and, as we say down here, called Beto every name but Child of God.
The Republicans in our state and national governments don't give two tugs about governing. They care about power: the power to enrich their billionaire backers and fatten their own portfolios. Like the Democrats with their "at least we're not them!" strategy, the Republicans operate by instilling fear in their electoral base: fear of transgender immigrants sneaking into your bathroom, stealing your guns, and forcing your daughter to have an abortion.
To the R's, especially in Texas, even moderate D's like Beto (yes, I dare call him "moderate") are dyed-in-the-wool socialists. Triangulating rightward with each election cycle does nothing to change that perception. (UPDATE: This. Is. Hilarious.)
So, Texas Democrats: What say you run some actual dyed-in-the-wool socialists, starting in 2020?
If you do start nominating true leftists, you can make the Green Party unnecessary. This is not an original thought, by the way: I've heard my Green and Socialist comrades say as much out loud since second Clinton administration, sighing that they didn't so much leave the Democratic Party as it left them.
You might lose your corporate PAC money, but the O'Rourke campaign has proven that you can raise a shit-ton of cash from small-dollar donors and a few progressive bundlers. (Ooh, look—$91K from individual employees at AT&T, without going through a PAC? That's just weird in post–Citizens United America). You can also raise said shit-ton without invoking the Republican Bogeyman and frightening voters into forking over their caffè-latte money.
My prediction is that you, O Formerly Mighty Texas Democratic Party, will not change your behavior in the next two years, even if O'Rourke pulls off an upset victory with seriously long coattails. You will continue to thwart competition from the left, partly by adopting some of our positions (cuz that's what third parties are for, right?), but mostly by browbeating Progressives into voting for your centrist nominees because "at least we're not them!"