... the Democratic base is much bigger than the votes the Democratic statewide candidates received...not much was done in those elections to motivate growth in the base voter turnout. Even when two minority-group candidates were put at the top of the ticket in 2002, the consultantocracy
made sure...[they] did not convey strong populist messages of the kind that would speak to the base vote.
It is time to cherish partisan Democrats and reject nonpartisan Nothingcrats. It is time to forget "right-left" analysis and install "right-wrong" analysis. It is time to replace the "liberal-conservative" spectrum with the "liberty-tyranny" spectrum. - David Van Os, 2006 Democratic Candidate for Texas Attorney General
The Texas State Democratic Party Chairman is determined to not let any race in the state go uncontested. Populist candidates are running for Senator, Governor, and especially Attorney General. Do these events point towards a potential battle in Texas between Populists and the "Nothingcrat Consultantocracy"?
...a potential battle in Texas between Populists and the "Nothingcrat Consultantocracy"? -- in some high profile races -- probably yes. In so many
races across the state that it becomes a media-hyped battle for the "soul" of the party? Probably not
Texas Democrats smell victory in 2006 and they are more unified than ever. One needs to remember, Texas really is a huge state - both in land mass and population. Texas is big enough for many different types of Democratic candidates and campaigns. We will have some significant Traditionalist vs. Populist primary fights, but in the end all Democratic candidate will get vigorous support from all Democrats.
Texas may actually only end up with one high profile contested primary race which pits traditionalists against populists: the race for governor. The past state controller, John Sharp (whose law firm has contributed heavily to Republican Carole Strayhorn's primary race against incumbent Rick Perry) will most likely run against Chris Bell (the former US Congressman who filed the ethics complaint against Tom Delay).
In the end, this Traditionalist vs. Populist struggle is really about two questions at once: Will the party really stand up for the people (Populism); and will such a stance bring victory where there recently has been too much defeat? Populists are definitely in the ascendancy. Texas Democratic Party activists have watched election loss after election loss by Democratic candidates "running to the center". They now are demanding a "Dare to fight and dare to win" attitude from their candidates.
This attitude is exemplified by the Populist candidate for Attorney General, David Van Os:
Dare to fight and dare to win
It is my belief that the statewide Democratic vote for state offices in the last 3 non-presidential general elections is not representative of the Democratic base. It is my belief that the Democratic base is much bigger than the votes the Democratic statewide candidates received in those elections, but that not much was done in those elections to motivate growth in the base voter turnout. Even when two minority-group candidates were put at the top of the ticket in 2002, the consultantocracy made sure that those candidates' campaigns did not convey strong populist messages of the kind that would speak to the base vote. I am convinced that strong populist Democratic campaigns appealing directly to the Texas Democratic base will wake the slumbering parts of that base from the sleep they have been in since at least 1994.
Some argue that I am wrong in this belief. To them I say: you cannot show me that a hard-hitting, statewide Democratic populist campaign aimed at the base will not expand the Democratic vote statewide into a majority, when it hasn't been tried in a long time. How could one know it won't make a difference if it is not given a chance? We've been using the "take no risks" warm fuzzy platitude messages over and over. Now it is time to do it the other way.
It is time to discard the "avoid polarization at all costs" strategy, the "take no risks" strategy, the "appeal to everybody" strategy, and the "chase the middle" strategy. It is time to remember what Jim Hightower told us 20 years ago, "there's nothin' in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." It is time to cease the followership strategies of scripting campaigns on the basis of what people thought yesterday in polls, and assert the leadership strategies of campaigning for what we know to be right based on our deepest convictions of what we want for tomorrow. It is time to stop worrying about whom we might offend if we speak truth to power, and start worrying about what value are our lives if we don't speak truth to power. It is time to cherish partisan Democrats and reject nonpartisan Nothingcrats. It is time to forget "right-left" analysis and install "right-wrong" analysis. It is time to replace the "liberal-conservative" spectrum with the "liberty-tyranny" spectrum. It is time to stop worrying about how to get money from big donors and start worrying about how to get more money into working people's paychecks. It is time to fight for better lives for voters instead of peddle promises to voters. It is time to treat public office as a duty, not a promotion. We must fight for the people, not in order to win their votes, but in order to win them justice. When we Democrats as the heirs of the noblest political tradition in the world - the Democratic tradition of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, James Stephen Hogg, Ralph Yarborough, Ann Richards, and millions of unsung Democratic heroes - learn and relearn and apply these things, the people will know we are there for them and they will turn to us, because they are in need and have been in need for a long time. The more courageously and more vigorously we fight for the people against economic, cultural, and political tyranny, all the sooner will they turn to us. When that happens we will be prepared to win for the people, because we will already be thinking like winners and conducting ourselves as winners. We will dare to fight and dare to win.
David Van Os
Texas kossacks -- what "soothsayest" you -- is 2006 going to be a successful year for Texas Populists?