Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Two Questions Texas Republicans OUGHT to Ask Themselves

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."
Philippians 2:3

[Note I: We outlined a more comprehensive forward looking policy agenda back in January.]

[Note II: In terms of redistricting, it's not quite as clear what will happen in the DFW area.  Thus, the situation there is a little more complicated.  But the basic principle about urban areas still applies.]

To be honest, now is a wildly premature time to discuss the RPT chair race.  There will be plenty of opportunity for backbiting, gossip, and place intrigue once precinct conventions start.  Nevertheless, if the discussion is going to be forced upon us, we might as well use the time productively.

Thus, we suggest the following two questions.
  1. How do you compete in urban areas?!?
    Like it or not, Texas is urbanizing.

    Travis, Bexar, and Harris counties are all going to gain seats in the next redistricting.  While a favorable map can delay the day of reckoning, by the middle of next decade there will be no path to 76 seats that doesn't include better performances in the three counties mentioned above.  Those better performances, by definition, will have to include territory inside those respective cities' limits.

    The good news is that Democrat-controlled local governments give plenty of material with which to work.  The bad news is that, blessed with such a bounty, Republicans either a) Completely ignore the opportunity or b) Engage it so buffoonishly that it's counterproductive.  That being said, a serious, non-buffoonish, approach to urban governance could produce results faster than most people suspect.

    As we explained to the Texas Senate in 2017, in the context of legislation protecting the property rights of those who want to use their investment properties as short-term rentals:

    If the GOP wants more days like March 14, 2017 in the Texas Senate, they're there for the taking.

    There are those who will take the need to compete in urban areas as an excuse to go soft on so-called "social issues."  Nonsense.  If anything, smart discussions of life and religious liberty will help with older members of the African-American and Hispanic communities.

    That being said, so-called "social issues" are largely irrelevant.  What's needed is an intelligent conversation about gentrification.  By the way, it just so happens that gentrification is 100% caused by government.

    Unfortunately, this is the point where the second question becomes unavoidable.
  2. How do you break the logjam in the legislature?!?

    We just wrote a cute little essay about how a future-oriented GOP could conceivably become more competitive in urban areas...but the dirty little secret is that those bills ain't goin' nowhere in this legislature.

    That cute little schpiel we gave about residents of Austin thanking the Texas Senate?!?

    That bill died.

    That's the case on many, many, issues.

    While it's great to discuss growth and future opportunities, none of it means anything if the legislature refuses to pass the relevant legislation.

    Organizations that don't have credibility can't grow.  They might survive, for awhile, by being modestly less crappy.  But the reckoning will come.  Eventually.

    The only real question is whether the economic reckoning or the political reckoning comes first.
Obviously, this author has our own opinions about answers (*).    This isn't about us, or our "6-point miracle plan to save Texas."  If we had one of those, we would have offered it a long time ago.

But it is to say that those are the two questions we believe should guide the discussion.

2024 and 2026 are eventually going to show up.  When they do, this author doesn't see a path to 76 Texas house seats without better performances in Travis, Bexar, and Harris counties.  Within city limits.

Bottom Line: These are our thoughts, take 'em or leave 'em....


* -- Housing costs on the urban issue, abolishing taxpayer funded lobbying/union dues collection on "how to fix the lege."

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