Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Think Rick Perry's Collapsing Campaign is Funny? The Joke's On You, Texas

by Forrest Wilder, The Texas Observer

Rick Perry's presidential campaign is collapsing faster than a $10 tent in a hurricane. ... Perry’s unexpectedly rapid demise should prompt, if nothing else, some self-reflection. What’s the matter with Texas? I’ll take a stab at it.

First, there’s no real opposition. Texas is now a one-party state, which is admittedly not news. (Some wags call it a two-party state: the Republican Party and the tea party). The Democrats are disorganized, dispirited, and seemingly incapable or unwilling to capitalize on the untapped potential of Latino voters in parts of the state like Houston and the Rio Grande Valley. They don’t put much effort into encouraging many young Latinos to vote.

Also, there are few authentically independent institutions in Texas—partisan or not—to push back against the free-market and religious fundamentalism of the state GOP. Vibrant grassroots coalitions could energize a moribund system and keep politicians on their toes. Plus, they’re just good for morale. In the absence of opposition, Perry and his allies in right-wing groups like Empower Texans can toe a hard line without consequence. Witness how they rammed through a brutal state budget that gouged $4 billion out of public schools. Where was the mass mobilization against those cuts? In California, Ohio and Wisconsin right-wing governors have faced the wrath of people in the streets and in the voting booth. There was too little of that in Texas.

But then it’s easy to suffer from hangdog-ness here. Hard to get jazzed about participating in the democratic process when you sense that the game is rigged. Perry is the product of a political system controlled by a small group of special interests and billionaires. He’s their man. Entrenched business interests appreciate the Texas Enterprise Fund grants, the rubber-stamped permits to pollute, the cheer-leading for dream schemes like the Trans-Texas Corridor and mandatory HPV vaccinations. If Perry’s a joke, then the joke’s on us.

Read the full article @ The Texas Observer

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