Tuesday’s voting day was a good news/bad news story. The good news is that nationally we gained seats in the Senate and several key governor races. Here in Texas we won the top races for me: Ted Cruz for Senate, Greg Abbott for Governor, and a race I’d been volunteering for, Dan Crenshaw for Congress, replacing our retiring Representative Ted Poe. My state representative, Dwayne Bohac, and my state senator Paul Bettencourt also won, which it turns out was not a given.
|Dan Crenshaw is congratulated by Ted Poe|
photo from Ted Poe's Facebook page
Here in Harris County, there was record turnout, much of it Democrat, much of it probably generated by the Beto O-Rourke senatorial campaign, which had, according to one account I saw, 805 full-time paid staff, compared to Cruz’s 18. And Beto had about $70 million to work with, a hefty percentage of it from out of state. I can’t say I’m sorry they wasted that money here instead of somewhere else. But, unfortunately, they did do some significant damage.
Two years ago we lost all county-wide races. Those that weren’t up that time were up this time, and we lost the rest of them. Even county judge—and administrative position in the 3rd largest county in the country, and I think the second largest administrative jurisdiction in the country. We got someone whose name I am not yet familiar with, who has no administrative experience, whose way of working with major budgets related to infrastructure managing huge growth and before the next hurricane is to be about climate change and stuff.
All of our judges—with the exception of a couple of Justices of the Peace who ran unopposed—will be inexperienced Democrats. Some will learn their functions well enough, eventually. And some of them might rule according to the law, rather than legislate from the bench, if they’re not typical. But we’re in bad shape for a while.
In my precinct, in a conservative area of Northwest Harris County, where my candidates won, my precinct did not support the Republicans. I worked harder this election than I ever have. Some of that is learning better what to do. Some is tying in with the Abbott and Crenshaw campaigns. But I contacted more voters, and contacted them more often. And I believe Republicans also had a good turnout. (I need to drill down on the numbers later.) But it was not enough.
My precinct does not have a Democrat precinct chair. So all the votes that were gotten out happened through some other type of electioneering that apparently money can buy.
I spent Voting Day at home with a virus, so I didn’t see what the polls looked like. (Luckily I had voted early.) But Mr. Spherical Model was our presiding judge. He reported that we had a higher than usual need for Spanish—which was evident, because I was supposed to be the Spanish bilingual clerk. And we had a great many required SOR forms (statement of residence—when a piece of mail gets returned to the county, then the resident needs to verify that they still live there), which may be related to Hurricane Harvey issues; some people are just now getting back into their homes. We don’t have apartments in this precinct, which leads to transience related to more SOR forms usually. There were a lot of first time voters—people who had never used an e-Slate machine (the electronic device we’ve been using since 2002), which is NOT a touch screen. And among these were many young voters, much more than we had observed in past elections.
So, whatever the Beto campaign did, they got out people who knew very little about voting, but they knew enough to show up and vote Democrat. That means that for the next four years, Democrats will be running the polling place for our precinct—which is awkward, since they don’t have a precinct chair and had to bring in someone from a nearby precinct, two days before the election, just to have an alternate judge. But that’s a problem for the new, inexperienced Democrat County Clerk. (We will of course be running Republican primary elections.)
Besides all the county positions, other losses included two of my favorite nearby state reps: Gary Elkins (who used to be my rep, before the last redistricting) and Mike Schofield, one of the most knowledgeable people on the state legislature. US Congressman John Culberson (who was mine before redistricting) also lost.
I’m lamenting the losses. But mostly I’m trying to figure out what more to do. We need to reach people better. Since I met him last February, I’ve been amazed at how well Dan Crenshaw does it. He has a way of saying things that gets through to Millennials (he one of them, just a year or so older than my son Political Sphere), and Hispanics. He went to high school in South America and is fluent in Spanish, which helps. So, as I go forward, trying to find more and better ways to get through to people who would be with us if they were only getting the message, I’ll be looking to Dan.
|screenshot from here|
You’ve probably heard of Dan Crenshaw by now, if you hadn’t before. He’s the Navy Seal who lost an eye to an IED in Afghanistan—that Saturday Night Live mocked last weekend, and was appropriately shamed for. Dan was totally unruffled by it, of course.
Tuesday night he gave an acceptance speech that I think is worth sharing. The first half is mainly thanking those who believed in him and helped make this miracle happen. The second half is about American ideas. I’ve heard others say (and I’ve said) many of the same things. But Dan does connect with people and inspire them. So here are his words (as well as I could transcribe among the cheering) as he begins the new life of a US Congressman:
We all vote. We all come together in our constitutional republic every election to cast our ballots. We are deciding what kind of country we want to be. We are making a statement about who we are, what we stand for, how we are to approach governance.
So, what do we want to be? Let’s start with what all Americans, I think, can agree on. We want a stronger economy, and better wages. We want American businesses to thrive. We want an environment where a single entrepreneur can change the world with a good idea—without government getting in the way.
We want a country where success is praised, not punished; a country made up of citizens with strength and character and courage. We’re not a people who shatter at the first sign of offense or hardship. [something about SNL followed by laughter]
We want more affordable healthcare. We want our doctors in charge, not government bureaucrats in Washington. We want to know, the next time a hurricane comes, our infrastructure can handle it.
We want smart, decisive, knowledgeable leaders in Washington, with the right experience to take on threats from China, Russia, Iran, and terrorists across the world. We want representatives who understand America’s special role in this world, who know that America is a force for good. Not congressmen who rush to be first in line to blame America for the sins of others.
|at the acceptance speech|
photo from Dan Crenshaw's Facebook page
We want towns and cities where the rule of law is respected, where we value our police and our first responders. We want schools that both educate and protect our children, and instill in them the basic values that make our country great: hard work, personal responsibility, and love of country.
We want life. We want liberty, equal rights. And we want government to be there to protect those inalienable rights bestowed upon us by God: freedom of speech, of religion, of a fair trial, and the right to own property, and to defend ourselves on that property.
The question, then, becomes, in every election, how do we get there? Our guiding lights, our ...(?) for the difficult decisions that we must make, are America’s foundational principles. It’s personal responsibility. It’s individual freedom. It’s limited government. And it’s “In God We Trust” that’s written from the halls of Congress to that coin in your pocket. Because, we figured out a long time ago, back in 1776, when our founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, that in order for a diverse people to live together in a complex society, we must empower the individual. Not divide people into tribal groups separated by race or gender or class.
The wonder, the miracle, of American exceptionalism is the ability of a diverse people to live peacefully together and prosper more than any other nation in the history of mankind. It was this country—it was America that ushered in a century of prosperity and defeated the murderous socialist ideologies of communism and Nazism. It is America that has stood up for free market and the idea that you own your own labor, your property, and you are free to enter into an agreement with any stranger, should you both benefit from that transaction. It is this simple idea that has caused poverty to plummet and tribal warfare and suffering to decrease to the lowest levels in human history. It’s this idea that gives us the miracle of a supercomputer in your pocket, a store full of food to buy cheaply and conveniently, or a home that can be heated or cooled with the flip of a switch.
Over a billion people have been lifted out of poverty over the last twenty-five years alone. And the ideas that seek to protect liberty and human rights and prosperity have been underwritten by one country, and one country alone: The United States of America.
America is a compilation of the best ideas from throughout human history. It is the ultimate conservative experiment in the sense that conservatives show a natural gratitude and appreciation of the past trials and tribulations. Jerusalem taught us about a purposeful moral existence under God. Athens brought us the gift of reason. Rome taught us the importance of laws and respect for founding virtues. London taught us that all men are subject to law, even kings. And that balance of power, even checks and balances, are paramount to liberty. The lessons of Jerusalem and Rome and Athens and London during the enlightenment were encapsulated in Philadelphia, where mankind finally understood that inalienable rights were given by God, and that the government’s purpose was simply to respect those rights, not change them.
|from Dan Crenshaw's Facebook page|
We’re patriots. We believe that the ideals that our country was founded on are the right ones. That doesn’t make us perfect. We don’t always live up to those ideals. We have work to do. But when we struggle, and when we feel loss, and we feel that our country is on the brink, the last thing we should do is throw out the very foundations that have made our country great.
In Texas we still believe in those foundations. I think that most Americans do. Sometimes we need a little reminder—a reminder of the things that bring us together, a reminder of all that is good in this world, and a reminder of the incredible things that we have accomplished, more than any other people in the history of humankind.
That’s what we voted on today. And as a team that was the message we spread. It became the dream that we shared. You all became part of that dream, and it caught fire. And people were reminded of the good things—the great things—that make up the American spirit.
I have great faith that, when we leave here tonight, we will not rest. We will not be satisfied with this victory. We’re going to keep going. We’re going to keep sharing that dream. We’re going to keep fighting for the values that made our country great and keep us free.