Tag Archives: beto o’rourke

Beto’s South Texas Problem Isn’t A Problem

Much is being said about Beto O’Rourke’s losses in various counties in South Texas to his opponent Sema Hernandez. I’m not saying either was a better or worse candidate to voters in those areas. Hell, I liked both of them. But stuff like this happens. It’s also argued that the same happened for Lupe Valdez, Miguel Suazo, and even Roman McAllen. (Some of us visit McAllen when we visit La Virgen.)

Chicanos in South Texas enjoy voting for Chicanos (or people they think are Chicanos). And there’s nothing wrong with that when Chicano representation at the top levels is dismal and you’ve got a bunch of mean gringos (bad anglos) and vendidos (Cruz) trying to build walls and threatening the well-being of families and communities. The familiar is a lot more warm and fuzzy sometimes to a lot of people of different colors and groups, but it seems people only get mad when Chicanos do it. 

Why get mad at South Texas when little has been done in the form of outreach? You can visit most of the counties (Beto) and still miss most of the voters. I mean, I’m not afraid to say that Beto probably saw the same people over and over again at his Houston visits since these events are sold to Democratic activists and not your regular voter. (I didn’t attend any of them.) The differences between March and November voters is pretty obvious too. I’d even venture to say that social media targeting is a lot easier in a big city than in rural areas, since that was the tool of choice for many campaigns. But did they even try in Rural South Texas?

Advertising in South Texas newspapers and radio stations is relatively cheap, compared to the big markets Democrats complain about not being able to afford. Perhaps some ads and outreach to those news and info sources may have helped. Hell, they’re cheaper than a politiquera (google it), that’s for sure.

Beyond all the whining, most of the Democratic counties still vote for the Democrat on the ballot by huge percentages when November comes. Of course, turnout could be affected because you’re talking about a lot of rural Chicanos that might go ignored by campaigns in favor of the big Democratic cities. Well there’s a cost to just about any campaign strategy that is chosen. Figure it out!

Ted Cruz’s idiocy about “Beto” notwithstanding, Beto’s not the first gabacho (not a bad anglo, just an anglo) to use a nickname familiar to Chicanos. Who knows, it could become endearing to folks once they get to know him. But they do need to get to know him and everyone else on the ballot.

Democrats complaining about South Texas just need to stop because that kind of elitism bordering on something else is unbecoming. I swear, they complain in March because we vote for their favorites’ Chicano opponent, then they complain in November when not enough of us vote. In the words of Eddie Olmos in the Selena movie, “It’s exhausting!”

Until Democrats (including elected ones in South Texas) perfect the whole political education thing in South Texas, low information, name-based elections will continue. Let’s all work on it.

Advertisements

Not A Good Time for Mandatory Anything Right Now

During a time in which a good chunk of people aren’t fans of federal government (or who’s in charge of it), when there is distrust of law enforcement and politicians in charge, and when government is negatively targeting entire groups of people while benefiting others, it may not be a good time to do mandatory anything, especially mandatory volunteer service for all.

That’s not to say Beto O’Rourke’s idea is a bad one, it’s just one of those policy things that gets pretty mucked up when people demand specifics rather than general campaign talking points. Because entire groups of people can get screwed once specifics are discussed. It’s kind of like how I feel when I hear politicians say they “support comprehensive immigration reform.” I want specifics because too many times, specifics like walls or temporary worker visas or “legalization vs citizenship” can screw entire groups of people.

As a young college student, I had big dreams of serving my community, state, and nation. No, not in the military, but in helping run things–legislation, departments, etc. Being a poor kid from South Texas living on student loans and the few grants that hadn’t been cut yet, though, it was hard to “volunteer” for a government internship, drive 80 miles a day to/from Austin, and try to impress some VIPs when bills had to be paid. So, a non-political job on campus and one in a call center had to do, while kids with influential parents or just plain ol’ family money could get most of the opportunities. Needless to say, sometimes one has to make ones own opportunities to do what one enjoys.

That said, the thought of a mandatory volunteer service program brought back memories about how it might work. Will the rich kids get the better volunteer opportunities with a phone call and a campaign donation? Can a poor kid from South Texas get some sort of incentive and “political” support that the privileged brats usually get to end up in a good opportunity? Because the service should end up amounting to something tangible, and not just student loan forgiveness and a spot on the resume detailing some crappy mandatory volunteer placement. In other words, how exactly would it work? Given that it’s mandatory, folks should have equality of options and not just the usual placement made by a political appointee.

I’ll be honest, I enjoyed some placement assistance when I was a teen in need of work. In my little town of 8,000 in South Texas, one of my dearest friends’ dads was the local city manager. So, when I put in my application for a job through JTPA (look it up), my friend advised her dad to pick me. She knew of my love of government at an early age and work ethic, so, her dad trusted the recommendation. Working for $3.35 an hour in the City’s finance department and sometimes being shared with the Planning Department was a great experience. Unfortunately, when a small-town kid moves to the big college and wants to work in big government,  the lack of opportunity because of forces out of ones control was quite the shock. Which is why options are important so that one doesn’t have to go through friends and connections.

So, yeah, no doubt being of service is important, but specifics are very important. And ensuring equality of opportunity is even more important. And without that kind of specificity (and bad memories of getting passed up by brats), it was just too hard to embrace Beto’s idea.