The Texas GOP is engaging in much more than cosmetic “ethnic outreach.” It has engaged in much more than an appeal for votes. The GOP is making a dedicated effort to bring Latinos, African Americans, and Asians into the party — as enrolled members, as activists, as party officials, and as candidates.
The political stakes could hardly be higher.
Latinos, who have leaned Democratic, demographically are surging in Texas. And if the Democrats can turn Texas blue (or even purple) they would have a huge leg up at winning control of the executive branch of the U.S. government in future presidential elections. By achieving sufficient Democratic preeminence in Texas progressives could turn the White House blue. And they know it.
As the Democratic party’s George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall once famously said, “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.” So, too, are Plunkitt’s Democratic Party successors taking their opportunity … announcing a full court press in Texas.
But something unexpected is happening. The more Latino Texas gets the more Republican it is trending. Latinos are making themselves right at home in a welcoming GOP. Red, not blue, is winning.
This is not happening by accident.
The Democrats are throwing some of their best people at this potential opening. The assault is led by their modern version of Santa Anna, the elite Democratic field operative Jeremy Bird — Obama’s 2012 national field director. Bird is the Senior Advisor to the Democrats’ front line assault squad Battleground Texas. BGT’s executive director, Jenn Brown, was Ohio field director for Obama 2012. These are among the best operatives the Democrats have.
The Republicans’ modern version of General Sam Houston, Republican State Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, is orchestrating the GOP counter-insurgency. Munisteri is a nationally recognized conservative and world class political strategist. He brought the Texas GOP back from insolvency and marginality to become the dominant political force in Texas.
The more the GOP follows the Munisteri blueprint the stronger it grows. Jeremy Bird trash talks, “If I were them, I would be scared.” Yet the Democratic assault on the Texas GOP appears, in the Nietzschean “What doesn’t destroy me makes me stronger” way, to be invigorating the Republicans.
Why does this skirmish matter to the rest of America? Because much of what you, dear Reader, hold dear depends on the outcome.
First: if the progressives can turn Texas blue they will sustain their control of the White House, at least for the indefinite future. Munisteri puts it this way: “There are 18 states that haven’t gone Republican in 25 years. Together they total 240 electoral votes. All the Democrats have to do is swing Texas, with its 38 Electoral College votes. Then they have an Electoral College majority. They don’t have to worry about the rest of the country.”
Meaning? The Democrats seriously are gunning for political hegemony. They unashamedly desire to shift the American political culture away from (classical) liberal democratic capitalism to European-style social democracy. Their goal is to shift it permanently. Control of the White House obviously would be a huge asset in this quest.
Second, as August Comte famously said, “demography is destiny.” The Texas GOP, under Munisteri, quickly grasped the need for Republicans to diversify the Party as the demography shifts. The national GOP is wrestling, now, with how to become appealing to Latinos, Asians, and Blacks without alienating its conservative and mainstream base. The Texas GOP already is far advanced in doing just this.
As Munisteri said to The Texas Monthly “The key to Republican success in the future is to reach out to Hispanic, African American, and Asian voters … because the state is growing increasingly diverse. The failure to do that will result, in the not-too-distant future, in this turning from a Republican state to a swing state.”
The Texas GOP is engaging in much more than cosmetic “ethnic outreach.” It has engaged in much more than an appeal for votes. The GOP is making a dedicated effort to bring Latinos, African Americans, and Asians into the party — as enrolled members, as activists, as party officials, and as candidates. Beyond that the Texas GOP is engaging seriously on issues that these prospective recruits care about.
“[T]he state party began a drive last year to recruit hundreds of new Hispanic GOP party delegates to the party by calling all Hispanic-surnamed residents who voted in the last Republican primary.
“David Zapata, the 30-year-old son of Mexican immigrants who runs the party’s Latino outreach, said it isn’t enough to win voters.
“’Voters are great, but we need active participants,’ he said. ‘We need new people, new faces, who will be a permanent part of the party.’
“The GOP’s most palpable shift has come on the immigration front. Republican lawmakers introduced over 100 immigration-related bills in the [previous] legislative session, including measures to deny cheaper in-state college tuition to the children of illegal immigrants and to overturn laws in several Texas cities that offered refuge to undocumented workers.
“This [current] session, with the filing deadline now past, fewer than five such bills have been put forward.
“’Let’s just say we are taking a different tone this year,’ said Republican state Rep. Larry Gonzalez, who represents a district just north of Austin.”
“A different tone” is a nice understatement. Munisteri puts it more plainly:
“Before the national party even spoke about sensible immigration reform — well before 2012 — Texas changed its platform away from deportation and called for a guest worker program.
“When asked by pollsters, only 3% of Hispanics who voted in 2012 rated immigration as the number one issue. However if you asked Hispanics whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of the GOP if the party is pro-deportation the responses are off the charts unfavorable. A platform calling for a guest worker program — and you have to get in the back of the line to gain citizenship — plus secure borders — produces an overall favorable opinion of the Republican Party.”
That “overall favorable opinion” among Hispanics (and other key ethnic groups, very much including Blacks and Asians) is essential to the GOP continuing to flourish as America’s center-right party. So… what’s actually happening in the field?
National Democrats and progressives have promised to raise and spend $10 million, and deploy 200 paid operatives, to turn Texas blue. $10 million is a huge sum for a state political committee. 200 operatives provide a veritable army. However…
183 of Battleground Texas’s 200 political shocktroops seem to be, as of now, vaporware. BGT’s website lists … 17. Meanwhile, the Texas GOP has grown to an historic high staff of 20 — more than tripling since 2010. And steadily grows.
The Texas GOP is on track to open eight permanent offices around the state — up from one. It already has dedicated representatives engaging with Asian, Black, and Latino communities. It will grow its Latino division, alone, to over a dozen. It already has big lists of Latino and African American prospective Republican voters: to date 263,000 Blacks plus 300,000 Hispanics.
The Texas GOP, literally insolvent when Munisteri arrived less than 40 months ago, has brought in about $14 million since June 2010. It has $1.3 million cash on hand. It has no debt. Its credibility with donors is, understandably, skyrocketing.
It’s not out of the question that one civic-spirited conservative or libertarian philanthropist could step forward and write a $10 million check to the Texas GOP. Doing so surely would checkmate the progressives’ efforts to roll up Texas and use it to pocket the White House. Checkmating that strategy provides a big political ROI.
How does this work in practice? Munisteri observes: “From the list of 80,000+ Hispanic households we had before the last state convention — in 2012 — the net result of our engagement was over 600 delegates of Hispanic descent new to the process. The number of Republican elected officials of Hispanic descent went from 58 to 78 in a single election cycle.”
As Munisteri stated it to Politico: “You need to be in the community, ongoing, day after day, year after year, with representatives of the party meeting with community leaders, listening to them, responding to them, encouraging participation and promoting people within the party from diverse groups.”
Will Battleground Texas succeed in turning Texas, and, with it, the White House, blue? So far the Texas GOP has thwarted this attempted Democratic coup d’etat. The national Democrats just might keep pouring money into Texas anyway. Not only is Texas a huge Electoral college prize. They might consider it money well spent just to try to keep Munisteri and his allies pinned down, their hands full keeping Texas red, rather than at liberty to pivot and turn back the blue tide across America.
The Texas GOP’s formula, if nationalized, could destroy the progressives’ dreams of permanent political hegemony over America. How sad for the left, so close to victory, to have it snatched away. For those of us, however, who stand in opposition to the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: the Munisteri Model demonstrates how to win the battle … and the war.