As of the end of this month, I will have been the owner of The Community News for 27 years. During that time, I have never endorsed a candidate for political office, although there was one local race several years ago when I warned people about one of the candidates.
As a community we are sitting through an unprecedented political campaign — the Republican primary for our representative in Texas House District 60 between Mike Olcott and Glenn Rogers.
Below I’ll take a look at this race from the standpoint of how a functioning representative democracy should work but we have to dispense with a couple of details.
First, let’s acknowledge that labels like “conservative” and “liberal” can be very subjective based on where you stand on the political left-right spectrum. If you are way out at the extreme as a liberal, then pretty much any Democrat will be seen as not liberal enough (see Sanders, Bernie).
Likewise, if you are way out at the extreme right, anyone standing to your left will be seen as not conservative enough (see Greene, Marjorie Taylor).
Recognizing that, then second, I think if we look at traditional definitions of “liberal” and “conservative” there is no question that both candidates are conservatives, although to different degrees.
So I’m going to remove both candidates from the equation and look at the race in a different light.
Because of the enormous amount of money being spent on this one race for one out of 150 seats in the Texas house, I have deep concerns as they relate to the functioning of a healthy republic.
After this primary election is over and all the reports have been filed, I am convinced that two billionaires will have spent more money to influence your vote than both candidates combined, and the two billionaires don’t even live in this district.
Heck, they don’t even spend their money in this district. Pre-runoff, their PAC spent more than $600,000 with Political Communications Advertising in New York City and another $472,317 with a Salt Lake City political advertising firm.
So I’m going to make this about the two billionaires.
Taking the names of the candidates out of the equation, let’s say that the two billionaires’ candidate wins. If that happens, who will he be beholden to? Will he go to Austin to represent us or them?
Even if he has the purest of motives, when it comes down to voting on bills, I can guarantee that he will take the position his two backers want. Because if he doesn’t, he knows that when the next election cycle begins, they will do the same New-York-based attack campaign to him that they are doing to his opponent today.
If his voting record fails in any way to be 100% “pure” in the eyes of the billionaires, next time around you’ll have your mailbox flooded with mailers calling him a liberal.
And if you as a constituent leave a message in his Texas House office because you have a concern, and he also has a message from one of his out-of-district billionaire backers, whose call do you think he is going to answer first?
In a republic, the people we elect should be answerable to the residents in their districts. In a situation where one or two individuals have the resources to literally overwhelm voters with their messaging, that is unhealthy for our system of government.
So I’m not telling you who to vote for, but if we in any way treasure our right to vote, this type of campaigning must be overwhelmingly repudiated.
If you’ve been sitting on your hands, you need to go vote.
If you are discouraged from voting because of all the negativity arriving in your mailbox, you need to go vote.
If you think you can’t make a difference, you need to go vote.
To the extent we feel we are losing our democracy, voters have the power to fix it — but we have to go vote.
Now I’ll bring the two candidates back into the conversation for a brief moment because there is a particular issue that is crucial for local voters.
The excellence of education found in the Aledo Independent School District has made the AISD the number one driver of economic development in eastern Parker County.
If you moved here for the schools, then you especially need to be paying attention to this race.
And you need to go vote.