No Distant Capitals
I have presented some criticisms here about the Texas Democratic Party’s approach (or lack of one) toward rural Texas. I also advocate for rural Texas to not wait for the TDP to change but to create the change ourselves. I would also like to offer a suggestion about what the party could do quite easily to change directions.
One of the things that led to the Texas Revolution was the distance to the capital in Mexico City and the lack of responsiveness of the central government to the needs of frontier Tejas y Coahuila. That is the problem we have now with the Democratic Party headquarters in Austin. It is too far, isolated and disconnected with Democrats in places like Fort Stockton, Del Rio and Eagle Pass. Having someone in Austin whose job it is to connect with places like that who has never lived there and seldom been there is not the solution.
One possible solution is that the SDEC divide Texas into 5 or 6 regions and establish permanent regional headquarters and hire full time regional directors and staff for those areas. The party has to push itself out of Austin and into Texas if it ever hopes to understand 21st Century Texas. Imagine the change that could come from Austin being just one of the regional offices, even if perhaps the most important (first among equals). There could be offices in El Paso, Laredo, Lubbock, Amarillo, McAllen, San Angelo (had to throw that one in there),Tyler, Lufkin, Wichita Falls, Sherman, Beaumont or others.
Knowing the area, knowing the people, being part of the communities can make the difference with local parties, volunteers and with convincing all of Texas that the TDP is on their side.
This is the 21st Century. We can work from anywhere (assuming the Texas Lege follows through on improving rural broadband). The concept of a centralized party structure in Austin is a 19th and 20th century concept. It needs more regional autonomy and more flexibility. TDP should be the leader in re-envisioning how it reaches the people of Texas.
Jon Mark Hogg is a lawyer in San Angelo, Texas and a former Democratic Candidate for Congress.