What It Will Take To Flip Texas Blue.

Beto O’Rourke failed in his bid to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but the attempt made him the most widely recognized Texas Democrat without any direct ties to the Obama Administration. That last point is more important than most might think. This is simply because nothing will make Texas conservatives overlook a direct link to what man they are determined to make America’s last Black President.

Beto is trying to use that recognition now as he accelerates his campaign for the Governorship of the state. He is running the same platform with one notable exception, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The incumbent Governor, Greg Abbott, has chosen to fully embrace every aspect of White Nationalist Trumpism in the hopes that the state’s aggressive gerrymandering will overcome the staggering COVID death toll among Republican voters, as well as the backlash from the power grid failure last winter, and carry him to another term.

O’Rourke already knows that he’s got the vote of every Democrat who will show up, because whatever Democrat ends up on the ballot running against Abbott does.

That same Democrat candidate will also receive many secret, silent votes from Libertarian and Republican women who will never publicly admit they voted against the Republican incumbent, but who will do so specifically because of the recent anti-abortion bill Abbott pushed through a special session of the state Congress. These votes will noticeably skew the predictions and exit polling.

They won’t; however, be enough to overcome the gerrymandering.

Which brings us back to O’Rourke’s new platform focus.

He has chosen to put legalization of marijuana front and center in this election race.

Every single item needed to cultivate and process the plant from seed to sale is manufactured here in Texas. There is no shortage of land, or financially troubled farms, that could easily and quickly become marijuana farms. That would immediately create jobs working crops for a product that will actually move in today’s economic market. It would also create jobs in all regions for resale shops, at a time when small business store fronts are failing. It would create a massive tax revenue stream for the state that would immediately start paying down the deficit, as it has for other states.

Finally, the legalized marijuana industry has some heavy hitter former Republicans and Republican darling celebrities behind it as owners and investors.

This could be the issue that eventually drives some of the male Libertarian and Republican voters to cast their own secret, silent ballots for a Democrat party candidate, especially the younger ones that want to have easy access without the risk of a criminal record.

Will it be enough to drive Democrat voter participation and Republican/Libertarian defection to levels that will overcome the state’s aggressive voter suppression and gerrymandering of districts?

Unless Congress quickly passes the John Lewis Voter’s Rights Act and makes it enforceable for the 2022 elections, we better all hope so.

What Really Happened?

Texas conservatives isolated the state from the national power grid in the 1930s, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Power Act, which charged the Federal Power Commission with regulating interstate electricity sales.

In the years since they have deregulated and privatized the power grid.

The failure we are experiencing this week is now being blamed by those same conservatives on renewable energy as they disingenuously campaign against the Green New Deal while people are freezing and life support medical equipment sits powerless.

The reality is that wind energy supplies less than 10% of the Texas power grid and the majority of the equipment failure has been fossil fuel powered equipment, mostly natural gas.

Texas is one of the largest producers and consumers of fossil fuels in the nation and world and the privatized power companies have aggressively resisted renewable energy.

Meanwhile, those homes and businesses with solar panel power support have fared the best throughout these outages.

We had similar failures (although not of this magnitude) in 1989 and 2011. Investigations of both determined the cause to be that power companies refused to spend the money on proper maintenance and winterization of the equipment. The same has already been reported for this year’s failure.

Add to this that the state runs the full power grid to supply energy demand in the summer due to air conditioning usage, and then takes large segments offline for the winter to conserve energy (because fossil fuels aren’t a renewable resource). Despite a week’s worth of warning of the impending arctic weather conditions, they never brought the dormant equipment back online.

They now claim that the energy demand exceeded production capability of the artificially limited production by the improperly maintained equipment. And as people are freezing and dying and absorbing the cost of destroyed perishables (if they can find an open business to replace them) the power companies are already talking about raising the rates to further profiteer off the disaster their own malevolent incompetence created.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, is a nonprofit that operates the state’s electrical grid and manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million customers across the state — about 90% of the state’s electric load, according to its website. Only the El Paso region is on the national grid, and they are the only region in Texas that swiftly recovered from the weather related issues.

Despite claims that the reasoning is Texas’ long standing policy of feigned federal independence and isolationism, one third of the supposedly non-profit organization that controls the power grid is either out of state or international, and the majority of the remainder are heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry and profiteer personally off the organizational decisions.

I hope that those Texans who survive this state wide disaster of mismanagement, corruption, and malevolent unregulated capitalism, remember it, and the lies that Governor Abbott and his Lt. Governor and AG are telling about it as it is occurring when their reelection campaigns are running.

It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic and pathetic that the state’s Republican leadership is loudly demanding investigation of the problems their own policies have created.

This is your call to action, as soon as you have thawed out enough to act.