Changing Texas’ TEA- Driven Politics

In government, there is an inextricable, but also uncomfortable link between politics and policy.  Politics is something of a theatrical endeavor… a compelling story, a charismatic candidate, the right thing (or the wrong thing) said at the right moment that motivates voters in one direction or another.  It’s an art form that in many ways seems a natural fit for the most brilliant of performers.

Policy, in so many ways, is the polar opposite… taking the most difficult problems of a community, and trying to make them better. Policy is best structured when people of differing opinions come together, debate each other’s views and forge a compromise that works for everyone.

Recent years in Texas have seen a whole lot of bad politics, and very little policy.  Thanks to regressive TEA party influences, Republicans in the legislature have wasted lots of time and money making harmful cuts to the state budget, while creating massive problems for families across the state.  For evidence of this, look no further than the devastation waged during the 2011 legislature.

Thankfully 2014 has seen the re-emergence of diverse ideas, and a robust policy conversation in Texas.  Even before November votes are cast, the influence of Texas Democrats has done a great deal to counter policies driven by the TEA party.  Take the latest ad released by Republican Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, which promotes his plan to improve state infrastructure.  This is the most recent proposal from the Republican candidate which proposes an increase in investment for public projects… a far cry from the “cut any and everything!”  mantra of 2010.

It’s no surprise that Greg Abbott is suddenly taking such a dramatic shift from the cut-and-kill ideas of the past. He’s being forced to do so because of his Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, who has been discussing infrastructure investment for months now on the campaign trail. Sure, the Republican candidate may have been the first to run an ad on the subject, but he’s doing so after Democrats started the discussion.   In response to Davis, Abbott has also pledged to invest more money in education and healthcare.

This is the power of having opposing arguments in an election… It forces the other side to respond and moderate, which makes better policy for all. If Texas Democrats achieve nothing else in 2014, they can take Abbott’s actions as proof that Republicans can’t just ignore their policy views any longer, and the TEA party’s strangle hold on the state has been greatly diminished.

On infrastructure, Greg Abbott won the Politics… he was the first to bring the issue to the forefront with a big, glossy ad.  But the substance within that ad, investing “billions in new road construction”?  We can thank Democrats for advancing the Policy debate.  Let’s hope voters know the best choice on November 4th.

Texpatriate has a different view on Greg Abbott’s infrastructure plan.