Ted Cruz won his Senate election in Texas in 2012, so he’s good until 2018 (there’s oddly speculation that he might be running for something else in 2016, which I guess is only logical since he’s reached the coloring book stage of saturation). The other U.S. Senator from Texas is John Cornyn, who’s been there since 2002 — so he’s up next fall. In an odd move, Rep. Steve Stockman is challenging him in a primary. Phrased as simply as possible, Stockman may be legitimately insane; here’s one good read about that, here’s another (when Stockman won his first terms back as part of the Newt Gingrich revolution, he was regularly called “Congressman Clueless”), and here’s a full rundown of his crazy via Mother Jones. Stockman claims he has a “100 percent pro-life, pro-gun, conservative voting record” in the House; he calls Cornyn liberal, despite Cornyn having a “liberal action score” of exactly zero. He’s been ranked as the second-most conservative Senator in America behind James Risch, who very few people probably know (Idahoan). And yet, Stockman is probably much more conservative (not just slightly more) — one of his campaign bumper stickers read, “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.” He’s also the guy who brought Ted Nugent as his plus-one to the State of the Union last year. He also gave away a free Bushmaster AR-15 rifle and regularly compares Obama to Saddam Hussein.
I don’t have a ton to say about this, but I’ll try. First of all, Texas is a beautiful place in parts. I lived there for two years right after college teaching in the inner city, and then I lived there again this past summer working for a Fortune 20 company (not oil and gas, surprisingly). Houston is getting praised by NPR, and people from high-brow joints like Esquire regularly praise the food from Dallas and H-Town. Meet someone from Texas and they’ll almost universally tell you they love it. Doesn’t matter if they’re from a city or one of the dust-swept areas. People do love it down there. Almost all of my friends from TFA (what I was doing at the time I was teaching) still live there; I’ve moved five times in the same span. Hell, maybe I should have stayed. (Probably not.) Point is: it’s cool (not temperature-wise, but culturally), it’s cheap, and the cities are underrated. But the politics can be insane. It’s fine to be conservative. I know conservatives and actually, some of my best friends are conservatives. My parents come from upper Manhattan, which is conservative insofar as its rich (NYC votes democratic, I know). But Stockman is talking about fetuses having guns. That might be a bit much. So the sad thing is, the politics of the main Texas players actually back-slide the perception of the state; Texas can be cosmopolitan and advanced in many ways, but people outside of there only associate that part with Austin (and possibly San Antonio) because of bucket-level concepts like “the oil industry” and “Ted Cruz.” It’s frustrating, but logical; people need a way to organize information, and organizing it around big buckets is the easiest way. Stockman won’t win his primary in all likelihood, but even his media attention today is a blow to what Texas should be appreciated for. Stockman’s actually appealing to the idea of “needing to be further over on the conservative scale.”
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@StockmanSenate) December 10, 2013
I know it’d be nearly impossible for a deep liberal to win big in Texas — so I wonder about the future of Castro, the San Antonio Mayor who did the keynote at Obama’s second Democratic convention — but I wish there was someone who could try. Sadly, it’s probably not Wendy Davis. As America becomes more and more partisan — politics, cable news, household location choice — Texas will likely become more and more conservative as a defining trait. Stockman won’t carry the candle for them in the Senate, but his stock will rise in the House and in the state. Great line in all these stories from Stockman is:
“I don’t know that I can beat him, but I am sure going to try,” Stockman said. “In Texas, conservative policies win over stabbing fellow Republican in the back.”
That appears to be a reference to the frosty relationship between Cornyn and Cruz, which is tied to (real reason) Cornyn’s pride but (stated reason) the question of how to approach the defunding of ObamaCare.
(Here’s a couple of the tweets referenced there, including the ever-popular “Why do liberals hate science?”)
It’s amazing to me that someone can go so far to either side — super conservative or super liberal. Issues aren’t that cut and dried. The biggest things we face as a nation, which theoretically the politicians are supposed to regularly address, can’t all fall one way or the other, or all the way to one side or the other. I never really understood the base logic of politics: is someone elected because you trust his/her views and you believe he/she will do the right thing when in the position, or is someone elected because he/she shares your views and thus you trust he/she will always vote the same way once he/she gets the position? If it’s the latter logic most people embrace, then I get it in a way — Steve Stockman could result from that, as could a guy like Tom Udall. But if we’re electing people to think through issues, then being all the way on one side for everything doesn’t seem to make any sense. The extreme partisan stuff kinda gives the impression that Congress (both Houses) are little kids in a sandbox throwing sand and shit on each other; ultimately, their mothers take them away or they find something else more interesting and nothing really happened here, did it? It’s frustrating that representative government looks like that now. What’s the value of social studies for a fifth-grader as a result?
I understand that Americans want guns and don’t want babies to die before entering the world; I get all that, and I believe that people have a right to voice that, even on campaign stickers that combine the two ideas. That voice is part of what makes America works. I just don’t understand how someone gets as far as Steve Stockman did on anything. It just seems to defy basic logic and understanding in some ways. I’d love to meet his mom, for example. That would be enlightening.