Democrats dominate the news in south Texas politics? It seemed so to your Mama.
If you believe the media, there is a “red tide coming (November 8th). Republicans: are they making inroads in south Texas? They already have – steadily increasing their vote in the last few presidential elections. Why? Clichés? Can they be helpful in answering that question? To start: a cliché, but true: “The Only Poll that Counts is the Vote on Election Day.”
Without major polling data, we depend only on chisme (gossip), opinions–”Democrats take Mexican Americans for granted.” And we have countless examples of speculative reporting by the media, looking for a good story – that would be (for them) an upset! In that respect, the media may be complicit in the manufactured story of a Republican “red tide” – taking their cue from SOP, standard operating procedure in local news:” if it bleeds, it leads.” The media may hope, grope, but they can’t prove it; yet, they repeat, because it makes good, startling copy.
However, the media simply can’t ignore current facts as they occur. Check out the McAllen Monitor, Saturday morning, 22 October 2022: “Republicans Blocked President Biden’s Policy of Loan Forgiveness” for America’s students, drowning in debt. All Republicans in Congress voted AGAINST that policy. All Republicans voted against the Inflation Reduction Act—against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, against fighting climate decay, against lowering energy costs! Of course they don’t want President Biden to succeed, just as they voted—down the line—against America’s first non-white president, President Obama.
History repeating itself? Yes, Republicans voted against Social Security (1935), under President Roosevelt. Later, they voted against the War on Poverty, Civil Rights, and Voting Rights, under President Johnson. Lest we forget, another major Democratic policy was opposed, then and now, by Republicans. But it was signed by President Johnson at the Truman Library in 1965: that is, Medicare, (now, “Obamacare”), more health care for all Americans. How foolish for any to repeat another cliché, “Democrats have done nothing for Mexican Americans!”
Of course, many potential voters—Mexican Americans or others in South Texas—may not have vivid memories of that incredible history of over 87 years of social and medical advancement.
Republicans are hoping they don’t remember. They hope voters only think of the current road signs,—bearing the trite cliché,” God, Family, Country,” a throw-back to Italian Fascism—not very new, not very clever, but very dangerous. (Flores was allegedly recruited and schooled by an extremist Evangelical pastor in Harlingen.) With that vague appeal, spread all over Cameron County, the religious zealot Republican candidate hopes to upset Congressman Vicente Gonzalez.
In the 15th Congressional district, containing McAllen and Hidalgo County Seat, Edinburg, the Republican candidate, Monica de la Cruz, refuses to debate. Nor does she even show up when invited to the civic organization, Futuro McAllen, not even to Chamber of Commerce events. She did not respond to an invitation from Council 291 of LULAC, League of Latin American Citizens (oldest civil rights and educational group for Latinos in the nation). So, voters can only guess at her ideas. Is she, too, a 2020 election denier, as is Flores?
Democrats “take Mexican Americans for granted?” Yes, that cliché resonates; the Democratic Party has not forcefully enough emphasized its accomplishments. Some voters may actually look at the history of the Democratic Party and its accomplishments, and think: “Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?” Republicans also hope voters don’t see the racism of Republicans; the three female candidates, Hispanic Republicans for Congress along the border, Texas call themselves “THREE SPICY TACOS!” Had Democrats used that slogan, it would have immediately been blasted by the media—and deservedly –as racist. A little fairness here, please, fellows?
Some commentators pretend that Mexican Americans only see (another cliché?), “higher gasoline prices” and will vote Republican. Be assured that members of LUPE (La Union del Pueblo Unido) and other Mexican American groups supporting Michelle Vallejo, will work hard not to let that falsehood spread.
So, will Republicans make further “inroads” in south Texas? Only if history is ignored, only if current frivolous clichés are repeated, ad nauseum, about alleged Republican fiscal conservatism and alleged Democratic willingness to “spend” are believed. “Lest we forget,” the highest deficits in the nation’s history were those of Republicans—Reagan, G. H. Bush, and Trump. (Yes, and Biden; though much of that debt was to keep the economy from collapsing and to spur recovery from COVID.) President Biden is now bringing down the deficit from Trump/Biden highs. So, there is no basis for the cliché “the budget is out of control.” The last president to balance the budget was Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Republican promises to balance the budget were and are lies.
Republicans will only make further inroads in south Texas if voters forget the greater number of deaths due to COVID among Latinos, than among Anglo Americans. Democrats must not let voters forget President Biden’s work in combating COVID and preparing for the next onslaught of disease. But, yes, admittedly, the cliché “It’s the Economy, Stupid,” is hard to beat.
But, somehow, not to be forgotten, broader, international issues have their place; Mexican Americans are not so provincial as some commentators suggest. Think: “War” and its pressures on the economy. Who is on our side? President Biden—and Democrats in general – support Ukraine against their powerful, invading neighbor, Russia. Many influential Republicans support the dictator, Putin and Russia. Democrats favor peace. Some Republicans, especially the religious extremists among them, seem to want to die and be “raptured” into heaven. Some openly court nuclear war. Therefore, not just “gasoline prices,” but Democracy itself – and our very survival are at stake.
So, no, not your Moma’s south Texas politics anymore. Nothing is assured. It would be risky to bet on the outcome. Another cliché that may help us explain and predict south Texas politics? “It all depends…“ It depends, as always, on voter turn-out, and that, on the weather; (Republicans praying for a hurricane? Poorer Democrats often get flooded out.) We will know the answers in about two weeks—short weeks for the candidates, long weeks for the rest of us, anxious to know the results.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by UT-Rio Grande Valley Professor Emeritus Dr. Gary Joe Mounce. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Dr. Mounce can be reached by email via: [email protected]
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