Texas Democrats must provide a contrast to the Texas GOP’s cruel conservatism

There’s no doubt that two women, one a Latina, at the top of the Democratic ticket will be a sharp contrast with the white male GOP to of the ticket. But it’s also more of a middle class, average Texan ticket which is a contrast tot he GOP side, Texas Democrats offering stark contrast.

Texas voters won’t have a hard time telling the difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates next year.

With the addition of San Antonio Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, attorney Sam Houston and party activist Steve Brown last week, the Democratic slate offers a vivid contrast to the Republican ticket, both in demographics and politics. And there are more announcements to come.

So far, Democrats are offering a diverse roster with most running unopposed on a strong progressive record, not unlike the so-called Dream Team in 2002. Republicans are more conservative than ever, with a ticket that is predominantly white and male.

By now most Texans should know Wendy Davis’ working class, worked her way up biography.

Both parties will draw stark contrasts next year, each side confident they reflect the views of the majority of Texans. Republicans argue, based on their winning streak, that Texas is a conservative state that will always elect Republicans.

Texas also has the lowest voter turnout in the nation, Democrats say, and the majority of eligible Texas voters are either minorities or liberals. They say getting more Texans to vote is the key to their victory, and Republican policies will help them accomplish that.

The result has been two very different tactics during primary season. The Davis campaign brags about making 100,000 phone calls to potential voters. Battleground Texas, the PAC hoping to turn Texas blue, is training thousands of field organizers and voter registrars.

While the Democrats, thus far, seem to be getting the organizing going well, they need to an issue or two to hang their hat on. Something that might get some of those folks out to vote that don’t usually vote. Via Burka.

One of the problems for Democrats is that in counties with large Hispanic populations, particularly in South Texas, the primary is where the action is, not the general election. In the Rio Grande Valley, the races that motivate are those for local positions — city councils, school boards, and courthouse jobs. The elections frequently come down to a battle of one prominent family against another. The winner gains power and something else that is very important in areas that suffer from poverty: good-paying jobs. Another issue for Democrats is that the Hispanic vote is by no means unilaterally Democratic. Republican candidates such as John Cornyn and Rick Perry have always been able to count on a third or so of the Hispanic vote. A lot of Hispanic voters are small business operators who are traditional conservatives.

And then there is the problem of history. Hispanics emigrated to America from a country whose government seldom did things FOR people, but rather did things TO people. In such circumstances, the degree of trust or belief in government and politicians was, and remains, negligible. All too easily, the culture of Mexican politics was transplanted to the Texas side of the border.

Van de Putte’s job, then, is to motivate Hispanics to vote. If she and Davis can do it, they have a chance to transform Texas politics. But Democrats have been waiting for the so-called “brown wave” to roll over Texas for generations, and no such event has appeared. At the very least, she will be a strong running mate for Davis and she can be a strong advocate for the Democratic ticket as well. It’s still going to be an uphill battle, at best.

If what Burka says is accurate, it might be good for Democrats – all over the state – to start talking again about how government can do things for people, to help them. One place they could start is by showing how cruel the Texas GOP’s decision not to expand Medicaid and withhold health insurance for more that 1 Million Texans is. It’s also a really good deal and would help Texas tremendously. The CPPP sums it up this way.

We have an opportunity to provide a regular source of health care for more than 1 million of our poorest adults—many of them raising children—while reducing local uncompensated health care that today forces providers to charge more to patients with insurance, increasing premiums for everyone, and increasing local property taxes to pay for indigent care. Expanding Medicaid will also make our mental health, criminal justice and child protection systems more effective as the adults they serve gain access to mental health care and substance abuse treatment. Criminal justice systems would also be relieved of significant medical costs. Expansion would be affordable, with the federal government covering 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, phasing down to 90 percent after that. Over the first four years, for $1.3 billion in state dollars, Texas would get $24 billion in federal dollars infused into our health care system, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. As other states have proposed, if the federal government reduced its financial commitment, Texas could reverse the expansion. In the meantime, the massive increase in federal money would build our health care workforce and strengthen our system. [Emphasis added]

Not only is it morally right, it’s a good deal too!  This is also a huge issue for rural Texas, Rural Hospitals Struggling In Texas.

In Texas, rural hospitals treat 15 percent of the population, but cover 85 percent of the state (see below for 10 facts on rural hospitals in Texas). In rural areas, patients are generally older, less healthy, and have less access to insurance.

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to benefit both rural hospitals and rural patients – by providing access to insurance for folks in small towns the idea was that hospitals would recoup costs they spend on indigent care. But some people aren’t so sure it’ll work out that way.

Dr. Howard Dickey is a family medicine doctor in west-central Texas at Comanche County Community Clinic – one of Texas’ so-called critical access hospitals.

“I would hope that [Obamacare] would be favorable,” he says, “but I may end up working somewhere else when it’s all said and done.”

One of the reasons Obamacare may not benefit rural hospitals in Texas is because Governor Rick Perry decided not to expand Medicaid in the state. That means poor people who end up using the emergency room still won’t have any type of insurance to help cover the cost of their care.

Critical access hospitals rely more heavily on Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements than their urban counterparts. Without the chance for additional Medicaid money, and decreasing Medicare reimbursements, Dickey says his clinic’s tight budget might snap.

It’s really hard to see an issue that would provide more contrast between the two parties. Because this truly is a life and death situation.

Beyond the economics and politics, lives are at stake. Lack of insurance will certainly mean more deaths. How many more? Approximately 9,000 a year, according to Dr. Howard Brody, director of the Institute for Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Brody calculated that figure by extrapolating from a recent Harvard University study published in The New England Journal of Medicine that found that states that expanded Medicaid saw a 6.1 percent reduction in the death rate among adults below 65 who qualified for the program. In a recent op-ed in the Galveston Daily News Brody wrote, “This means that we can predict, with reasonable confidence, if we fail to expand Medicaid . . . 9,000 Texans will die each year for the next several years as a result.” [Emphasis added]

This is not the only issue facing Texas, but this issue must be central to the every Democratic campaign in Texas in 2014.  Texas Democrats must provide a contrast to the Texas GOP’s cruel conservatism.

Further Reading:
Kuff has More on LVdP for Lite Guv.
The Cruelty of Republican States in One Chart.
Faith Communities, Hospital Groups, And Business Leaders All Urge Texas Governor To Expand Medicaid.
The Battle Over Expanding Medicaid In Texas.

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2 Responses

  1. […] Eye On Williamson is still, yes still, blogging at our temporary home. Voters must be offered a choice in 2014, Texas Democrats must provide a contrast to the Texas GOP’s cruel conservatism. […]

  2. […] Eye On Williamson is still, yes still, blogging at our temporary home. Voters must be offered a choice in 2014, Texas Democrats must provide a contrast to the Texas GOP’s cruel conservatism. […]

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