Sam Houston once said, “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.” Great sentiment, Mr. “Raven,” but unfortunately, an abundance of your successors have perpetuated oppression on the people of this state.
Now, however, for the first time in a quarter of a century, Texans are ready to fight. We’re ready to elect people like Jessica Cisneros to unseat a Democrat with an A rating from the NRA. We’re, also, eager to banish John Cornyn from the U.S. Senate.
As liberal as Sam Houston was for his time, it wasn’t enough to keep our marginalized communities protected. Slowly, I believe, the teachers and leaders of our communities will embolden us to be more forward-thinking and open-minded. For right now, though, our fight is electoral, and it’s getting very interesting here in the Lone Star State.
So interesting, in fact, the state is ascending into battleground territory at a coups d’etat level.
This is important for Texans, because it gives us a sense of voice that, up until recently, we have not felt we had. Everyone just categorizes Texas as a red state without even considering the work Democrats are doing in local organizations and governments. Doing so marginalizes left-wing voices and, with them, the voices of women, POC and LGBTQ+ individuals.
When people say Dallas, some people think conservative white people with big, feathered hair. When I was growing up in New Jersey in the early 2000s, we thought of Dallas as an Old West town, with people riding around on horses. (Yes, in 2004 kids in Jersey really did think everyone rode horses in Texas, and for much longer after that!)
What you don’t think of is the fact that when reviewing voter turnout for Texas and California, considering 2018 vs. 2014, Texas turnout increased by 18 percent and California turnout by 18.8 percent. This means we had the sixth-highest voter turnout increase, just under California, arguably the most liberal state, which was fourth.
So, this Bible Belt state is right on par with a beacon of liberalism.
We cannot discount how close the 2018 was. Democrats at the top of the ballot lost by about 1.25 million votes in 2012 and 2014, then in a sharp change, to only 807,000 in 2016. Then O’Rourke lost by only about 215,000 votes in 2018!
Using figures from the Secretary of State website, there are about 452,000 newly-registered voters since then. If even half of these voters disapprove of President Trump — which, based on national polling they do — we are sprinting toward the reality of flipping Texas blue.
To those distressed about the “Bernie or Bust-ers,” let’s use the national average of 12 percent of Sanders primary voters who voted for Trump. That’s 57,000 here in Texas — a measly amount compared to the number of newly-registered voters here.
We are the second-largest state in the country and so control the second-largest amount of delegates. I won’t even begin to try and comment on the travesty that is the Electoral College, because the reality is, we’ll have to deal with it in 2020. We will just have to bust out enough votes to make it bend to our will.
Because Texas has been such a deeply red state, the 2016 election felt like a loss for most of us before it even happened. However, there is a YUGE chance that we alone could be the electoral elixir this year.
We could have done it in 2016, if we would have swung blue and voted majority Clinton, she would have received exactly the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. This is not something to scoff at; this is momentous. With mounting Republican retirements and increasingly-razor-thin winning margins for the GOP, if we do the work, Texas could hoist the country into a new era of liberty and justice.
We can lead our fellow Americans into a better quality of life. This means not only can we speak up and spearhead progress as never before, but it also means we are obliged to do so.
Here is Texas, we have had to deal with our classmates and relatives terrorizing us, calling us “fags” and worse and always having to deal with bigotry and ridicule. We’ve seen Texans of color being murdered in mass shootings, including a 17-month-old Texan being shot in the face in El Paso, an innocent little girl struck by tragedy before she could even understand her own consciousness — thanks to Texas’ incredibly absurd gun laws.
If we as a “conservative stronghold” can show that we abandon tradition and prejudice for an honest investment into the well-being of fellow Americans and their future, we can shepherd United States policy for decades to come. No longer will we be written off as bozos or dismissed as uneducated, something we, the righteous Democrats of Texas, have never been. We have, in fact, been the opposite, standing up for what’s right in the face of a barbarous conservative culture.
And we are not done; we never will be. There is still so much work to do — before November and beyond. I urge you to do what you can to get involved; talk to loved ones and be the transformation. It is not in vain.
We don’t just want to win; we want to dominate! The fact is, voters in Texas have swiftly swung left, and the margin of victory for Republicans has shriveled from 27.2 percent in 2014 to 2.56 percent in 2018. Victory is more than achievable, but we need you to be able to succeed. You are the key.
Do not give up.
Joey Casiano is a local artist/author working on his first novel. He serves on the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas executive board and volunteers for the Bernie Sanders campaign.