Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Is the Texas Taliban really going down?

Robert Draper writing in the current Texas Monthly cover story:
Still, the Texas Republican party’s problem hasn’t been a paucity of resources. Rather, its problem—which additional money and staff are unlikely to cure—has been its special gift for offending whole categories of the state’s electorate. As conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan acknowledged to me, “Republicans are so good at taking out their guns, shooting themselves in the foot, reloading, and then shooting themselves in the other foot.” While the sobering results of the 2012 presidential election have prompted introspection among Beltway Republicans about why they have lost favor among Hispanics, single women, and young voters, it’s fair to say that the soul-baring has not fully caught on within the Texas GOP. In April, Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that same-sex couples could not receive domestic-partner benefits. And in June, word got out that Texas tea party organizer Ken Emanuelson had been caught on tape saying, “I’m going to be real honest with you: the Republican party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote nine-to-one for Democrats.” Such bombast is exquisitely tailor-made to alienate hordes of millennial-generation voters
But it is the Texas GOP’s tone deafness on issues relating to the state’s fastest-growing demographic that is likeliest to prove the party’s undoing. Several Republicans attempted to convince me that many Texas Latinos do in fact vote for their candidates, citing, as GOP pollster Baselice did, numbers from the 2010 election cycle. One would think, then, that Republicans would’ve responded with delight to the new census figures. Instead, as the federal courts have repeatedly determined, the GOP redistricting chiefs have gone to great lengths to dilute Hispanic voting power.
 “All Hispanics have to do is look at the value documents of the Republican party of Texas,” said 43-year-old San Antonio state representative Trey Martinez Fischer, one of the Democrats’ most prominent opponents of the redistricting plan. “Their party platform says that this is an English-only state, that it’s a crime to be in this country illegally, that we should eliminate prekindergarten education for sixty-five percent of Hispanics, that we should repeal the DREAM Act for children of immigrants who came here through no fault of their own. Go to any of the two hundred and fifty-four counties—go find a Latino and ask them, ‘Would you join a political party if this is what they stood for?’ You’d get Ted Cruz, and that’s where it would end.”