Austin, Get Over Yourself

…and I say that with love. [Because  I love you, Austin, I really do.]


I’m sorry. I love you.

The single purpose of this post is to eradicate the phrase “Oh yeah, Austin is a blue dot in a sea of red” from the vocabulary of anybody who cares about turning Texas blue.

I am so incredibly sick and tired of hearing this refrain. It’s part of the Austin mythology. And it needs to die and get buried six feet under because it is not helpful. Every time someone says “Austin is a blue dot in a sea of red”, a voter in a swing district  registers as a Republican.

Battleground Texas just set up shop and they have the incredible, sisyphean task of convincing people that Texas can go blue. We all have that incredible task. In fact, I had that task last week, when trying to convince my partner, a native Texan, that we can go blue. I made him listen to me rant while cooking, which involved a lot of banging of pots and pans. It was pretty dangerous.

Anyways, perpetuating the myth that Austin is a blue dot in a sea of red is not helpful because it isn’t true.

Here’s one visualization, adjusted for population.

But this one is better, via Gawker. With my own edits. Thanks Paint!

My Paint skills are outstanding.

My Paint skills are outstanding.

Let’s zoom in a little.

Zoom In Election Visualization

Houston on the right. Dallas-Fort Worth up top. San Antonio and south Texas to the bottom. And El Paso to the left.

See? NOT the only dot of blue in a sea of red. And it’s not even that red. It’s more of a lovely fuchsia shade.

Let’s go over this. My favorite (mostly anecdotal) talking points when ranting about how Austin is not a blue dot in a sea of red:

Out and proud.

  • It’s completely non-scientific, but let’s just all step back for a moment and think about the fact that the mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, is a lesbian. You know, the ultimate persona non grata to the stereotypical homophobic bubba Texan that lives in the psyches of Americans across the land. Sure, she’s somewhat of a centrist Democrat. But let’s just marvel at the fact that the mayor of the 4th largest city in America is having her civil rights debated in the highest court in the land and she is the boss in Houston.
  • Also, Houston is the most diverse city in the country. And what’s that phrase that political operatives love to throw around? Demographics are destiny? I actually hate that phrase too, but I’ll stick to one rant at a time.
  • Houston is also the home of some kind of OK legislators, I guess. You may have heard of them. Jessica Farrar (swoon…) and Ana Hernandez (double swoon…).
  • Beyonce is from Houston. This is not entirely germane, but I’m including this anyways. It must mean something.

    Well whaddya know.

  • DFW. I don’t have really great anecdotal points for this one. Just look at the data. Better yet, friend Michael Li on Facebook and let him astound you.
  • Pretty cool legislators from Dallas, most of the time: Anchia, Marc Veasey. Cooler: Angela Hunt, because she’s a lady.
  • Here’s the part where I get really riled up. A blue dot in a sea of red, you say?! Take a drive down I-35… Have you heard of these guys in San Antonio called the Castros? One of them, Julian, is the mayor of San Antonio. You may have heard of him. I’ll jog your memory: He was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. He talked a lot about menudo cookoffs.  He had the cojones to put out a citywide measure to ensure all kids in San Antonio had access to pre-K. He also had the gall to green-light a plan that would put in motion the retirement of an entire freaking coal plant and incentivize the relocation of an entire solar company to the tune of 800 jobs  in one fell swoop. Right. That’s what I thought.
  • He’s got a twin, Joaquin, who just took over the district formerly held by Charlie Gonzalez, former head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. So this, except identical.
  • And can I get some love for my people in Nueces County, Corpus Christi? They’ve been working for years to stake out some ground in the land that was once the uncontested territory of McCarthy enthusiasts, and they’ve finally got some. Talk about a swing area.
  • Despite the machinery of the politics and the rather mediocre nature of the delegation, South Texas IS BLUE. There is no discussion.
  • There are progressives in the Rio Grande Valley, and they’re getting organized. I know them. I love them. Watch out, institutional political party machinery!
  • And last but certainly not least, how about El Paso? When Bill Clinton visits Texas, he doesn’t miss an opportunity to go to El Paso. He loves El Paso. It’s probably because of Chico’s Tacos. And the Miners. And the fact that El Paso has been reliably democratic since before the Seven Kingdoms (that’s a Game of Thrones reference, y’all. Look it up). That’s some dark blue right up in there.

I know, right!?

  • Mary Gonzalez. I’m not even going to say anything. I’m just going to insert this GIF:

IN CONCLUSION. Stop saying Austin is a dot of blue in a sea of red. We’re not. We’re a progressive city and we pilot a lot of new things and ideas. But we aren’t the only ones. Martyrdom is annoying.

Please don’t get all weird and nationalistic about this city vs. this city. I really don’t care. I care about turning Texas blue.  We’re one state with a ton of electoral votes, and that’s the big prize. If we deliver, we will change this country’s political landscape for a hundred years…and I love the sound of that.

We need to start perpetuating a new narrative – we are many, many dark blue dots. And we need to work together.

Rant over. Back to phone-banking.


7 thoughts on “Austin, Get Over Yourself

  1. I’m guilty of perpetuating this crap (look toward the end of this video While I wholeheartedly agree with you that there’s more blue to this state than our hip town, there’s an argument to be made that “ATX” as its come to be called is far less “progressive” or blue than its reputation.

    Sure, we’ve received climate and energy awards, extended benefits to same-sex partners of city/county employees, and have leading zero waste and local food programs. But what about the continued history of segregation, racism, and poverty that our fellow Austinites and many (not all) elected officials choose to ignore?

    How blue are we when we, as a city, displace a whole tract of low-income housing tenants along E. Riverside, move those families into a much lower-performing school district (Del Valle), and replace that housing with billboards offering a life of luxury by the lake depicting two young anglos paddling on their stand-up surf board?

    How blue are we when we generate a roughly 10% voter turnout and allow our Mayor to effectively block a living wage ordinance for laborers and low-skilled construction workers?

    This town is absorbing over 190 people per day. Folks from all across the country who see this town as “progressive”, cheap compared to their more expensive former states, and offering a whole shitload of good times. All you need to do is check your monthly rent, drive through the gentrified east side, or ask a parent of child attending a low-performing school in Del Valle to see that we’re on an unsustainable path of growth and development that further dilutes our once legit “blue” reputation.

    Austin, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

    • 100% agree. I use the term “blue” in the sense that we can put it in the D column, and that’s it. Progressive is a whole other term and a whole other blog post…

      Excellent use of Kermit.

  2. Thank you, Flavia. My thoughts exactly, but articulated much better.
    I’ve spent the last three months putting together a new organization to help do some important rebuilding work, specifically outside of these blue dots.
    The Texas County Democratic Campaign Committee will be working to recruit, train and support Democratic candidates for county-level offices in the non-urban areas, where we are most in need of re-branding and can build new coalitions based on local issues with face-to-face voter contact. County-level candidates can build relationships in a way that State lege and Congressional candidates cannot, and that is perhaps most crucial to consolidating the work of groups like Battleground TX into actual electoral gains. Much cheaper races to run, too.
    We’re just getting started, so feel free to contribute here:
    Thanks again for your post.

    • That’s great stuff and SO true. Big state and national campaigns are exciting, but small local races are the building blocks of real power. You really get to know your candidates in an intimate and special way. Happy to donate. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Not just Austin, dammit – Off the Kuff

    • I could write another entire blog post about Austin’s “green” credentials. Good luck tomorrow – I would go but I have to be in Houston. Drop some truth!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s