Trump is Turning Texas Blue Again: Republicans Lose Significant Ground in Lone Star State

Bertrand: The Clichés About Texas Don’t Tell The Whole Story

A state most liberals have written-off as irreconcilably red is more politically diverse and complicated than it appears.

White, rural, Trump-voting Texans may loath to hear it, but they aren’t the only ones with a political voice in the Lone Star State. Not anymore. Here in liberal Harris County, where the arts flourish, local police have stopped enforcing draconian marijuana policies, and my pink-frosted tips don’t trigger any Stetson-wearing snowflakes—one always wonders just how long it will be before the yokels join us in the twenty-first century.

The demographics have been shifting in the right (left?) direction for years, as institutional problems which once seemed insurmountable are challenged by higher courts—and a previously reluctant progressive base finds new purpose as the anti-Trump “resistance”. Crucially: the makeup of the Lone Star State is magnitudes more diverse than all the trite, good ol’ boy imagery may lead you to believe. And even in her most remote regions, political plurality is the norm—the districts simply aren’t drawn to reflect that.

Last month a federal appeals court gave blue Texans a new hope. “Texas intentionally discriminated against black and Latino voters in drawing its 2011 congressional map,” the court found in a 2-1 ruling. “More specifically: Three of the state’s 36 districts violate either the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act.”

This was one of a few recent legal setbacks for Texas Republicans, whose House and Senate map have been struck down, and whose controversial voter-ID law has been invalidated. A recent Associated Press report lays out what this might mean for the state politically:

For Texas, the stockpiling losses carry the risk of a court punishing the state by demanding approval before changing voting laws. The process, known as “preclearance,” was formerly required of Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act. But the court kept in place the chance that states could again fall under federal oversight if intentional discrimination is found.

Minority rights groups and Democrats could press a three-judge panel in San Antonio over that possibility at a court hearing later this month in San Antonio, when they’re also expected to demand new state and congressional maps for the 2018 elections.

At the same time, a pivotal Supreme Court case threatens to undo gerrymandering, from both parties, in all 50 states. The New York Times explains:

A bipartisan group of voting rights advocates says the lower house of the Wisconsin Legislature, the State Assembly, was gerrymandered by its Republican majority before the 2012 election — so artfully, in fact, that Democrats won a third fewer Assembly seats than Republicans despite prevailing in the popular vote. In November, in a 2-to-1 ruling, a panel of federal judges agreed.

Now the Wisconsin case is headed to a Supreme Court that has repeatedly said that extreme partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional, but has never found a way to decide which ones cross the line.

Texas has the second-largest Hispanic population in the United States—a demographic which is quickly becoming more politically motivated in the age of President Trump’s dogwhistle politics. What the few, politically empowered persons in Texas fail to understand is that the state’s adult population – as a whole – don’t hold the ultra-conservative views of her elected representatives.

I recently wrote of the Texas Lyceum Poll’s surprising (on the surface) results: 62 percent of Texas adults believe immigration helps the United States more than it hurts. Unsurprisingly, the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to take a supposedly liberal stance on the issue.

Which brings us to my final point: the future of this state, like all others, will soon be in the hands of the millennial generation.

Those of us who are conservative tend to reject the mainstream GOP—still pigeonholing to the outrage politics of geriatric voters. My young conservative friends are either libertarian or not above voting for a right-leaning Democrat. I’m reminded of a friend of a friend. An Asian-American, veteran, feminist Republican. By all accounts brilliant and easy to have a conversation with. A representative of millennial political complexity. Gods willing, we won’t wind up like our baby-boomer parents and grandparents: unthinking, uninterested in new ideas, easily-provoked, easily-manipulated, pawns of the wealthy – and worst of all – incapable of distinguishing between emotional rhetoric and rational policy.

What Texans deserve, most of all, is the freedom to make real, democratic choices. The GOP’s wedge issues do little to advance the real interests of their rural conservative constituency, who are either unaware of their party’s corporatism or have been convinced to embrace it, because it sure beats being a libturd or a Democrap (the day Dale Stetson from Bumfuck, Texas comes up with a clever political insult is the day I pose nude in Playgirl).

Timothy Bertrand is an author and journalist from Houston, Texas. He is the Associate Editor at Reverb Press and splits his time between covering breaking news and penning thoughtful literary essays.