As we travel the country meeting people and telling their stories for Full Measure, we sometimes find the time to “take the pulse” of a place on a big issue of the day. That’s what Scott Thuman did recently in the Lone Star state where he asked Texans what they think of socialism.
They say “don’t mess with Texas,” but that’s exactly what a new generation of politicians are trying to do.
From Beto O’Rourke’s unexpectedly strong but unsuccessful Senate campaign, to local leaders making gains in the state assembly – democrats see opportunities in the typically red Lone Star State.
Scott: Pastor Gene Collins of Odessa is head of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats.
Scott: Will Texas ever turn blue?
Collins: Actually, Texas probably is a blue state. if you look at what Texans really stand for, we are probably a purple state leaning more so to blue.
Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez call themselves democratic socialists many other democrats, including O’Rourke, carefully avoid that label. This spring we spent 10 days traveling across Texas and spoke with a few folks, about a term being tossed about these days.
Richard: you hear a lot of talk about socialism and all that stuff right now....
Richard Cortese and his family have been farming this land outside of Waco for generations.
Scott: So when you hear that talk about socialism, obviously you disagree with a lot of the philosophy that we're hearing from people out there that they're promoting?
Richard: Right. Collectivism is nothing more than what ... Russia used to call it the collectives. That's what they called them. They never were successful, and they never fed their own people. Even when the Pilgrims first came to America, first thing they did was they said, "We're going to put all the food in a deal." They starved to death the first year till they figured out you go out there and raising what you've got is yours and you can sell it to somebody else. We figured that out a long time ago, and we're the only country in the world that does that and promotes that and makes it work.
You wouldn’t expect a member of the state’s most famous political family to disagree with that sentiment, but State Land Commissioner George P. Bush admits the other side has made gains.
Scott: Would socialism or at least that version of it that's out there right now, would that ever take hold in Texas?
Bush: Openly, I don't see Democrats utilizing those terms. But, when you look at Beto O'Rourke who ran I think pretty well for U.S. Senate, he really was a liberal progressive and I have to remind college campuses and high school students, that all this you will be paying for, for the rest of your life. These proposals might sound great, and they may be a temporary sugar high, but when you're designing public policy, you have to think about your children and your grandchildren, the future of the state.
So in this state where workers are called roughnecks, and cowboys still ride the range, the political handwriting on the wall is not too subtle for any future for socialism in Texas.