From a musician’s standpoint, it is very easy to see the parallels between musical theater and political theater.
Both take months of meticulous planning and rehearsal. While everyone in a production certainly has individual responsibilities… learning their music to note-perfect accuracy, and rehearsing lines until they are off-book… the real work comes when you start putting everything together. Suddenly, each cast member goes from the individual work of their part into a flurry of information offered from everyone else. The time when we combine in dress rehearsals is really the “make or break” moment. The whole show has to come together, and sometimes we’re not always sure if it will get done in time. Yet you push on, trust everyone else, get to opening night, and anxiously wait as the curtain is lifted.
In political theater, many of these same things happen. We work hard… often much harder than seems possible. We suspend disbelief that any way other than our way is going to be the final result. Whether you’re on the ground floor as a volunteer, or a top-of-the-ticket candidate, you buy in to the theory, no matter how unrealistic it seems.
But for the big show of politics, there is no true group rehearsal… only an often inaccurate set of predictions which are trying desperately to read people’s minds. There is no true rehearsal for election night. The choir meets for the first time ever, and we’re supposed to sing perfectly in time and in tune. The lines get said, and we hope everything makes sense.
For Democrats in Texas and across the nation, it’s clear that their lines didn’t resonate with the audience. There’s no denying it. 2014 was a victory for Republican candidates on an historic scale. The party improved greatly on many of the gains made from 2010, and left many Democrats wondering why their message was rejected at so many levels. All the door knocks and phone calls in the world were not enough to defeat this country massive dissatisfaction with government. It was a tough night.
But even if the theater of 2014 is closed, the work done to give voice to our state’s most pressing issues remains. Texas families are still in need of healthcare options. In a state so prosperous for a privileged few, we still have too many people that can’t survive on a $7.25 per hour wage. The ramifications of hurtful cuts to education from 2011 linger as our schools are still under-funded. The knowledge that so many are still facing discrimination simply because they are minorities, women or LGBT.
So the production didn’t turn out the way we wanted. But even in defeat, we learn… we grow. On this new day, it’s important to say thank you to Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, and all of the Texas Democrats that sacrificed months of their life to present a choice for the state. Congratulations to Governor Elect Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Elect Dan Patrick, and all those that won their races last night. They now have great power, and an even greater responsibility to lead our state.
As Senator Ted Kennedy always said,
The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Words that are just as true for Texas as anywhere else.
Plenty of analysis will be done in the coming days, and of course for the city of Houston, municipal contests are just around the corner in 2015. Last night was a tough night, but today is a new day.
The practice room awaits.