What a fun time to be a conservative in Texas. Let us count the ways.
1. Don’t look now, but a conservative insurgency is steadily growing in both the House and Senate.
Like Jim DeMint’s US Senate crew, the Texas insurgency are the truth tellers, raising the cost for moderates to change their skin once they get to Austin. It is no insignificant job. Like DeMint’s crew, our Texas conservatives are the backup quarterback on campus. While it takes longer for voters to change leadership than it does a head coach to change quarterbacks, we’ve seen it happening the last three times Texans have voted.
Last session we saw how a few legislators holding their ground can force a leadership into better outcomes. Leadership had to preempt conservatives on issues that would have been too damaging to allow conservatives to own.
Still, the systemic fixes needed will never get done until conservatives run the show.
2. Could it be any more fun to watch liberal Texas journalists take turns spinning conservative electoral results into something less ominous for them?
One of the latest to take a crack at it was Peggy Fikac. On Sunday she baldly declared that “it is expected” that Democrats will make a comeback in eight years. Oh really? No word on whether anyone besides Fikac expects this.
Texas voters are repeatedly electing and re-electing conservatives. Fikac evidently believes they will be enraged if these legislators win for them the right to choose where their children go to school.
Fikac even marshaled Democrat Leticia Van de Putte and moderate Republican Joe Straus to prove it! Conservatives should always be thankful when their enemies give them career advice.
It may be hard for some people to imagine Democrats falling further from power in Texas, but it shouldn’t be. In Fikac’s lifetime the number of Democrats in the House of Representatives has gone from 148 to 49. In that time the Democratic Party has gone from relatively conservative to hyper-liberal, while the GOP has become more conservative. It is a failure of imagination to think there is a natural party balance in Texas that mirrors the nation. That isn’t our history. It is, however, a premise liberal spinsters employ in times like these.
Conservatives are winning for a very simple reason. Texans are no longer tuning out after they pull the lever. Conservatism was always what they wanted. The campaigns haven’t even changed. The old business model of campaigning as conservatives and legislating as moderates is under a fair bit of strain at the moment.
3. The establishment desperately uses intimidation and condescension to try to mitigate the dangerous contrast conservatives create.
This is also entertaining to see. The sheer force of the establishment tractor beam focused on conservatives as soon as they win an election is staggering. The entire time this is going on moderates maintain that they don’t care about conservatives.
It’s a lot like the 5th grade boy who swears he doesn’t care about a certain girl, only the tension is so thick between the two that it can be cut with a knife.
And conservatives are expected to believe they are not a threat? That they do not matter? That they are not making moderates do things they wouldn’t otherwise do?
Conservatives should remember that, by and large, most moderates are confrontation averse. When they act in ugly ways towards you it is because they are rattled.
4. Moderates have trouble understanding conservatives because to a moderate, losing an election is like the death of a loved one.
The conservatives’ secret is this: they don’t need the job. To them, a loss because of conviction is a seed planted in the ground. They came to Austin to offer principled leadership. They would rather leave with their integrity intact than allow themselves to be abused with the threat that they will lose their next election.
And then, elections happen and we see moderates needing larger and larger multiples of money to hang with conservatives. Conservatives get a steep conviction discount.
It seems the only way to beat a stalwart conservative incumbent is to redistrict him out of over 80% of his district. It worked against Jim Landtroop and Wayne Christian, but this isn’t exactly a sustainable model. Conservatives are likely to control redistricting next time anyway.
By contrast, five Straus committee chairs lost primaries and six Straus committee chairs chose not to run for re-election.
5. The media has consistently misinterpreted the maturation of the tea party as its disappearance.
Hopeful primary season reports that the tea party had vanished crashed into a brick wall on primary day. The tea party is only gone in the sense that eggs are gone when they are mixed into the cake batter.
This is because the tea party was never a party. It was always a re nvigoration of a conservative movement that got too comfortable, and a grassroots that had thinned out.
The original conservative movement in our country took 30 years to win the White House. Fourteen years later it helped the GOP win back the House of Representatives.
The tea party re-invigoration of the Texas conservative movement will likely need less time to gain control.
Until then the people being displaced will continue telling conservatives they are irrelevant.
The opposite is true. Conservative consistency puts everyone else at risk.