Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Local & State Politicians

by Bill Holmes

We are approaching the 2014 primary elections here in Texas. The primaries are March 4th with early voting beginning on February 18th. The run-off elections for those races needing final resolution will be May 27th. The 2014 Texas general elections in November will decide one U.S. Senate seat, 36 U.S. House seats as well as most of the major statewide offices including governor and lieutenant governor. In addition half of the state senate seats and all of the state house seats are up for grabs. There are also numerous local elections. 

We all know what elections mean. There are the signs, mailings, phone calls, radio and TV ads. About 98% of the campaign rhetoric is bull shit. Most of it is also negative. It is made up of outright lies, half truths, distorted facts, misinterpretation of facts, fake science and on and on. There are personal attacks, creative editing of comments, unflattering photos and just general nasty mudslinging. I am always amazed at what the voting public will swallow.

Texas is still a red state and the Republican primaries are often the de facto deciding election for many positions. Even though the November elections are over eight months away, many races will effectively be decided after these primaries. That means a big part of the campaign budgets are expended in February. We are getting quite a few TV ads, mostly by Republicans. They are all trying to out-conservative each other.

One of my biggest gripes is how many politicians make their main campaign issue something that the the office they are running for has little or no control over. Almost all of the Republican candidates seem to be running against Obama regardless of the office involved. We have one lieutenant governor candidate who has a six point plan to stop illegal immigration. A second candidate for the same office promises to secure our borders but he doesn't have a six point plan. Hell, he may be talking about keeping Oklahomans out of Texas. Silly me, I though immigration and border security was a federal responsibility with federal laws. I don't think any of these guys are going after the Latino vote. Let's not even bother with the fact that the lieutenant governor has very little executive power. Another candidate will stop Obamacare and sue the president. I'm sure that will work out. A third candidate wants to impeach Obama for Benghazi. 
Texas Republican Lt. Governor Candidates

If you are running for dogcatcher don't say you will fix the potholes. If you are running for mayor don't say you will cut the state budget. If you are running for governor don't say you will get the troops out of Afghanistan. 

It amazes me that most Republican candidates are taking positions that alienate almost all minorities. Texas is already a majority-minority state. By about 2020 Hispanics will outnumber European whites. Basing your parties future on angry white men does not seem like a smart long-term strategy. They can overcome the sheer numbers for a short time with gerrymandered districts, big money and slick political machinery. Eventually the numbers will prevail. 

I know why candidates use this tactic. Immigration, Obamacare, military engagements, NSA spying and other federal issues are in the news all the time. Fox News has a cadre of conservative buffoons telling us all day every day that Obama sucks. MSNBC has a gaggle of liberal idiots saying the Republican House of Representatives are obstructionists. Funding for the state highways, building a new reservoir or zoning are not sexy, hot button topics. Of course those are issues local and state office holders have control over. 

So if you want Obamacare changed or immigration reform be sure to vote in your local mayoral election. Problems with the federal deficit? Cast your vote for Texas lieutenant governor. Potholes in your neighborhood? Choose the right U.S. Senate candidate.

This practice will continue until the electorate makes lying, BSing politicians pay by not voting for them. Truth in advertising will only be achieved if people know the truth and they will only know that by learning the facts. I don't hold out much hope for that to happen anytime soon if ever. It doesn't matter whether you are Republican or Democratic, what matters is that you are informed. 

Vote smart.


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