As Burnet County Democrats, we’re entitled to feel discouraged.
Republicans rule the state and the county. We got trounced in the last election and it looks like we’ll get trounced again in the next one. Our party seems dysfunctional at the national and state levels. Even worse, we have neighbors who hate us for being Liberals and refusing to swallow their Big Lie about 2020.
So why do we fight on?
Given the 75/25 split among voters in this county, we simply can’t expect to get candidates elected to major offices. We couldn’t have wished for better candidates in 2020 than Julie Oliver and Clayton Tucker but – even doing everything we could for them – we couldn’t push them over the top.
Biden didn’t do any better here. We tried phone banks, voter registration drives, vote-by-mail canvassing and door-to-door campaigns. We made real progress, but not enough.
Where did we go wrong? More people would identify with Democrats if we could escape the Liberal Elite stigma the right has been pushing for generations now.
Nationally, this means cleaning house at the Democratic National Committee and washing away the pervasive wokeism that infects our pathetic messaging. Locally, it means getting shoulder to shoulder with those working to better the community.
Let them get to know us and see who we really are.
Is it really hopeless?
How can a small core of motived, talented Democrats make a difference? Political Judo™. From a place of leverage, we use the opponent’s force against them. Even though we cannot win the vote, we can shape the dialogue.
We have a fair press in Burnet County, which allows us to provide perspective on prevailing issues – and raise new ones. We can reach the community with our views. We can drive wedges between Republican candidates. We can attract attention to our causes. We can help rehabilitate the image of Democrats.
How do we swell our ranks? So far, we’ve tried to contact suspected Democrats and ask them to sign up as volunteers. No great results, as far as I can tell. How about we flip the script? Find people who already are doing volunteer work and get them to join us. Infiltrate (uh, I mean join) local service organizations and see if they’ve got any Dems. Do some service projects of our own and see if others will join us. Service projects are also a great way to project a positive image for Burnet County Democrats if we identify ourselves as such.
We have met the enemy …
Now we come to my bottom line: To succeed here, we need to reform the Democratic Party.
At the state level, party administration is decent, but leadership is lacking. No one speaks for Texas Democrats except possibly Beto, and he is disconnected from the party apparatus with his own database, outreach and messaging. (Kim Olsen is ray of hope, and I’m willing to haul my ass to a County Convention to help get her elected.) In even the best case, the state party is going to be horribly understaffed and underfunded. All they seemingly have resources to do is beg for money.
Which brings us the fustercluck that is the DNC. Let me admit, I backed Bernie and hate the DNC with the fire of a thousand suns for how they treated him. But worse is their gross incompetence in messaging, candidate development and fund allocation.
They took in over a billion dollars in 2020 – then essentially left Texas on its own. What we had, we raised ourselves. But imagine if they poured money into Texas: Creating effective youth-based and Hispanic-based organizations. Reversing the negative image of Democrats. Imagine having a platform and messaging that appeals to rural Texans.
We could swing the state and put the Democrats in power for the long run.
All we can do down here in the trenches is to work to reform the Texas party in the hope that it can rise to help reform the national party. In the meantime, we need to demonstrate that Texas has a viable grassroots organization well-positioned to support a sweeping nationwide campaign.
Meanwhile, we’ll be making it cool to be a Democrat in Burnet County.
Why we fight
So why do we fight on? Because we are fighters. We see the nation we love in danger and feel compelled to do what we can. (I still have regrets that I bailed on the party after they gave the nomination to Hillary, and that’s a big reason I’m serving the party now.) By joining with others of like mind, we find an oasis of sanity in the wasteland of political discourse.