The 2016 Election: The Future’s Not Ours to See, But Let’s Try Anyway
Ed. Note: This column originally appeared in the Quorum Report and is republished here with permission.
“The future’s not ours to see, whatever will be will be,” Doris Day sings in a 1956 Alfred Hitchcockfilm, The Man Who Knew Too Much. Wise words for these Hitchcockian times when even Psycho’sNorman Bates would be a normalized, popular political candidate if he led to good cable news ratings. And Bates would produce ratings.
Doris Day, America’s original sweetheart, tried to warn us, but the temptation is just too great. What will the 2016 election outcomes mean for Texas’ future?
Glad you asked.
The real news won’t involve the presidential vote in the Lone Star State. Despite some curiously tight polls showing Hillary Clinton within the margin of error of Donald Trump, neither candidate campaigned or spent money in Texas. Historic inertia should give Trump the edge.
However, Trump’s racism, misogyny, bullyboy tub-thumping and dangerous ignorance will erode the extreme right’s control in Texas. That will be good for Democrats. It will be good for Texas.
Trump’s close pals, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Land Commissioner George P. Bush among others, will in the future try to blame the deprivations ofTrumpism on the orange man’s unspeakably bad character. “Trump? Who’s Trump?” they will ask in the faux innocent voices of the guilty.
Still, they can’t hide from their endorsements of a man who called people of Mexican heritage murderers and rapists, who bragged of sexually assaulting women, who put violent American white nationalists at the very core of his base.
On issues, there’s just not much daylight between Texas’ extremist leaders and Trump. All of them harbor suspicions of “Others.”
The all-white, all-male locker room of Texas officeholders try to politically exploit the preposterous belief that white males are today’s real victims. The difficulties and challenges faced by women and non-whites are their own fault, they say. The latter’s demands for quality education, a clean environment, survivable wages and access to health care are ignored. The double standard would be comical if it didn’t lead to so much tragedy.
The real story of the 2016 election will be developing in the big urban areas that are increasingly dominated by Democrats. No need to look elsewhere to see why the GOP is hell bent on undermining local control. The vibrant, economically vital diversity of our big cities and counties is beyond their control. Hence, they oppose self-rule at the local level.
This is the real Democratic gathering of forces coming for worried GOP leaders. Look closely at this year’s down-ballot returns from the big cities and border counties and you will see the reasons for the GOP’s manic attempts at constructing a kind of neo-apartheid through voter suppression and discriminatory redistricting plans. You’ll also see why those efforts will ultimately fail.
While Trump’s bigoted language will have an impact, it’s Republican policies that are really behindthe GOP’s troubles with voters. Those troubles will be very visible in the election results. Public education is shortchanged. Health care is unavailable. Wages are intentionally suppressed. College is out of reach for many. If good paying jobs can be found, the roads we travel on to get to them are gridlocked and potholed.
While we should be careful about sorting citizens into demographic corners, it is true that current GOP policies do seem targeted at some groups. Women. Minorities. The LGBT community. Middle class and poorer Texans of all kinds struggling to keep up.
The all-white, all-male locker room of GOP statewide officeholders just can’t stop themselves from paternalistic assaults on women’s health care, on women’s fundamental rights as human beings and the same constitutionally guaranteed civil rights as men. A growing gender gap will contribute to Democratic gains in the Texas House this year.
There will be exit polling this year in Texas. With any luck, it’ll be at least moderately accurate. To see the future, look for movement among voters by region, ethnicity, gender, age, education, and economic status.
If Donald Trump has done nothing else he has painted the extremist nature of today’s GOP in orange dayglo. Against that extremism, Texas Democrats can be seen for what we are: vitally and colorfully diverse, moderate, practical-minded folks dedicated to addressing the real needs of real people in responsible, fiscally sound ways.
Oh, and one more thing. Democrats promise to get the police out of your bedrooms and bathrooms. The GOP’s bizarre policing of our private and intimate lives will end. That is the future.