By Alan Bean
Texas Democrats are confused. For generations we were the party of Dixiecrat populists; defending the interests of the little guy from corporate elites, while beating the drum for white supremacy. But when the Democratic Party became associated with civil rights, Texas politics shifted from Blue to Red. A handful of urban districts remained dependably Blue, but the suburbs, small towns and rural sections of the Lone Star State are decidedly, triumphantly, Republican.
As a consequence, the Texas Democratic Party now consists of educated white liberals, African Americans, Latinos, and an aging cadre of white “Yeller-dogs” longing for the return of Dixiecrat hegemony.
Texas Democrats have identity issues. We all want to “turn Texas blue”, but that’s where the agreement ends. In the interest of party unity, we kick the vision question down the road, defining ourselves negatively, in terms of what we aren’t.
Specifically, we aren’t Tea Party conservatives.
That ain’t good enough.
There are two conflicting strategies for turning Texas Blue: we can get out the minority vote; or we can persuade moderate Republicans to abandon a party dominated by Tea Party extremists. But we can’t pursue both strategies at the same time without garbling our message and blurring our vision. Here’s why.