The 2012 elections changed Texas


The 2012 election did not bring decisive change to Texas, possibly because the jobs crisis was less severe in the Lone Star state, but the incremental changes were worth noting.

Before November 6, Texans suffered from a "super majority" of anti-worker Republican delegates to the State House. In the State Senate, where 11 delegates are the minimum necessary to block any legislation, the Democrats had only 12. The Governor, the Supreme Court, the Court of Civil Appeals, and all other state offices were held by Republicans.

Republican gains in 2010, and the increasingly anti-worker nature of Republican candidates, had left the impression that their domination of state politics would continue to increase.

In the 2011 legislative session, Republicans passed several anti-democratic measures that would have given Texas a prominent place in the grand parade of U.S. voter suppressors. They also redistricted federal and state districts to help them tighten their hold on Texas power. Their redistricting maps and almost all their voter suppression laws were stopped by federal government under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which holds that certain states with the worst history of racism, including Texas, must have all election laws reviewed.

Attorney General Abbott is appealing these federal court decisions to the Supreme Court, but the elections went ahead without most of the voter suppression laws but with the discredited redistricting maps.

When the vote totals came in this year, President Obama had lost the state 58-41 percent. Unlike his run in 2008, he did not even take all the major metropolitan areas and even lost, barely, in Houston. On the other hand, Democrats broke through the "super majority" in the State House, and they thwarted a multi-million dollar attempt to switch one seat in the Senate, which would have made it impossible for Democrats to stop state legislation.

Through redistricting, Republicans had hoped to rid themselves of U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin, but they failed in the attempt. Through redistricting, they expected to gain three of the four new U.S. House seats that the census had allowed for Texas. Instead, they split two and two.

Communists in Texas worked hard in the elections because the working class had so much at stake. Texas labor, led by an especially energetic State AFL-CIO, can justly claim credit for the incremental improvements in Texas politics. November 6th came and went for Texas labor with no slowdown in pace. The two top leaders had already scheduled major addresses, one in Dallas and one in San Antonio, to charge up the fight against austerity in the coming U.S. congressional session.

The growing Latino vote, much discussed in national politics, may have accounted for the Democrats' successes in Texas. A lot of the new Democratic state reps and one of the U.S. Congressmen came from San Antonio, where the growing Latino vote may have been decisive. A final, and interesting, point came from the 2012 elections in Texas. Our governor made a complete ass of himself during his primary run for U.S. President. There may be some carryover effect in 2014, when he has to face the electorate at home.

Photo: Dallas Democrats hear the election results.   Jim Lane/PW

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  • thanks for the article, jim. Texas is becoming "the next California," in my opinion. demographic shifts, being highlighted by the media now, are swinging dramatically against the right, and a rejuvinated labor movement & allies are, as you point out, fighting, getting some leverage, for progressive shifts.

    keep up the tough fight in the belly of the beast!

    Posted by bruce bostick, 11/12/2012 11:17am (3 years ago)

  • Thanks for comments Amber, but I think a longer perspective would show that Texas Democrats are much more worker friendly than they were back in the old racist "Solid South" days of Democratic Party domination. After the civil rights movement moved all the trogdolytes into the Republican Party, they dominated the state just as they had when they were Democrats. Today, a far better Democratic party in Texas, much less racist, much more worker friendly, is fighting its way back.

    I erred when I said, in the article, that President Obama failed to get all the major metropolitan areas of Texas. I was going by early returns. Final returns show that he took Houston and the others, just as he did in 2008. It's the white-flight suburbs that gave Texas to Romney.

    --Jim Lane

    Posted by jim lane, 11/10/2012 5:45pm (3 years ago)

  • With few exceptions, Texas Democrats are equivalent to moderate Republicans of several decades ago. Topics such as a living wage, higher minimum wage, rejection of "at-will" employment statutes, etc. would never pass through their lips. Democrats here usually win (barely) because their Republican opponent has such nonsensical, deceptive, aggressive, and arrogant positions that he/she is correctly viewed as being unfit to hold public office.

    Workers' issues have no traction with a Texas Democratic party that absurdly continues to shift rightward in order to gain a handful of purely political wins. There is, however, plenty of room for the ascension of other methods (bottom-up organizing, worker-owned enterprises, alternate political parties)
    that will 1) embrace worker priorities and 2) marginalize the corporate Dem./Rep. parties' view of workers as mere resources to be exploited, exhausted, and discarded.

    Posted by Ambler Gee, 11/08/2012 12:48pm (3 years ago)

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