By Lynn Ashby 24 Oct. 2011
Will Rogers’ oft-quoted observation, “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.” has never been truer. The Democrats (let’s shorten this to Dems) are the most inept American political party since the Know Nothings, both on the national and state level, and show no signs of improving. Thus it has been easy for the Republicans to move into the vacuum – especially in Texas.
Don’t believe me? Take Harry Reid, please. I would say he looks, talks and acts like a small town Baptist preacher rather than the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, except Baptist preachers know how to give a thundering sermon. Reid just mumbles, looks down at his shoelaces and mumbles some more. That’s leadership? And what didn’t happen to Nancy Pelosi? She led the 2010 disaster for House Dems and should have been replaced for her ineffectiveness. She’s still the leader, maybe because that’s the best the Dems can do. But they can’t hold a gavel to Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell who are sharp, mean, know how to bluff and intimidate, and it works. (See: ceiling, debt)
The GOP controls one half of one-third of the federal government, but that 400 pound elephant runs Washington. Name one powerful Democrat besides President Obama. (Some would question that premise. He has been mugged by pros and still plays the nice guy.) Actually, I can name two powerful Dems: Bill and Hillary Clinton. They are also sharp and mean, but both are on the sidelines. Today the party of the donkey has no Jefferson, Jackson, FDR or Truman. Indeed, when it comes to winning elections, the Dems have no Karl Rove, master of sleaze.
The Dems also desperately need their own Roger Ailes, the Fox News chief, because the Republican Party commands the airwaves for no reason except that it lacks competition. Fox News (there’s an oxymoron for us) wins the ratings war nightly. Bill O’Reilly, despite setbacks like his egomania, constantly interrupting his guests, misinformation and the small matter of a sexual harassment suit which he bought off, has twice the viewers as poor CNN and MSNBC.
The most listened to radio talk show host is Rush Limbaugh, who daily opines arrogantly on families, children, the military and those pinhead professors in higher education. He has had four wives, no children, dodged the draft and briefly attended a small college in Missouri. Still, he rules.
Liberals tried to mount their own radio network, Air America, which bombed due to the three N’s: inexperience, ineptitude and in-fighting. To be fair (and balanced), Fox had its own bomb when it attempted to run a conservative faux news program like Comedy Central. I believe it lasted three shows before being yanked. Leave comedy to the libs.
Remember the old days when Dems like LBJ ran the Senate as his own mom-and-pop store and sly old Sam Rayburn played the House like his private orchestra? The Dems politely listened to the GOPers, then did as they pleased, and Texas got whatever it wanted. Oh, those were also good times for Lone Star Democrats in Austin. They had been in firm control of the Texas government since Reconstruction ended in 1874. It’s hard to realize that the Dems ran Texas for 100 years, longer the PRI controlled Mexico or the Communists ran the Soviet Union.
Back then, whoever won the Dem primary in Texas was automatically sworn into office. John Tower changed that on a fluke but, as John Connally used to say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. It left me.” Connally, Phil Gramm, even Gov. Rick Perry and scores of other life-long Dem officials switched parties. Today outsiders think that was weird, and chasten Perry for his Democratic youth, but here in Texas everybody was doing it and the switch didn’t make any difference.
The last time Democrats in Texas won a major statewide race — president, Senate or governor — was back in 1990 when Ann Richards was elected governor.That was before some of today’s voters were born. Well-funded Dem candidates like Tony Sanchez and well-intentioned candidates like former Houston Mayor Bill White went down to ignominious defeat. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Previously, a Democrat had to win Texas to win the White House, but in the 1992 elections Bill Clinton won the Oval Office while losing Texas electoral votes. Barack Obama did the same.
The Texas Tribune reported last year: “In the latest election, the Democrats lost record numbers of incumbents down the ballot…the number of Democrats in the 150-member State House fell to a historic low of 51 from 74. But Republicans won unprecedented victories at the local level, too: They elected 115 county judges in the state’s 254 counties, 339 county commissioners, 209 constables and 78 sheriffs. Party officials say that, in all, they gained 234 elected officials at the county level in Texas.”
In my own case, every single elected official above me — from city council to county commissioner, state rep and state senator, the U.S. House and Senate — every one of them is GOP. Some are good, most are ghastly, but it makes no difference, if they’ve got an R by their name on the ballot, they’re in. It’s not that the GOPers are so smart, it’s that the Dems are so bloody inept. An intelligent and efficient Dem today must be frustrated. Those party meetings must sound and look like the Children’s Crusade. No organization, no money, no decent candidates and no future. Where are Lloyd Bensten, Jim Hogg, John Nance Garner and Bob Bullock? The Dems have replaced Barbara Jordan with Sheila Jackson Lee.
We began with a quote by Will Rogers, so let’s end with one that certainly applies to today’s hapless Democratic Party leaders: “If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.”
Ashby is independent at firstname.lastname@example.org