How to change the political landscape in Texas, “the reddest of the red-hot states, covered by a big bubble that protects the most reactionary, radical, and rabid set of officeholders that much of the country has ever seen.”
As Ann Richards’ campaign manager in 1990 and 1994, Rogers (Cold Anger: A Story of Faith and Power Politics, 1990) watched as the Democrats ignored warning signs and the Republicans took over the state. The Democratic Party was locked in internecine warfare, spewing out grievances dating back to Reconstruction, and Republicans rejected the 1950s-era anti-communist hysteria and John Birch Society as bad for business and moved to the middle. The author explains the strange world of Texas: its complexity, diversity, special interests, and political history. Only with a sense of Texas’ sincere hatred of any and all government since the Civil War can one understand how to secure the vote. The author’s disappointments, morphing into real bitterness, show throughout the book; she calls Texas the “reddest wacko state in the union.” The takeover of the state by Republicans was complete by 1998, when they won every statewide elected office and just about obliterated the Democratic Party. Texas is her story, but the practices and politics used have spread to the rest of the country. The imprint of Texas Republicans can be seen in the leadership of the tea party, gerrymandering of congressional seats, mega donors, tort reform, and elsewhere. When she calms down, Rogers provides genuinely sharp insight into where the Democrats went wrong. She explains how they must copy the successful methods of the Republicans, microtargeting Hispanics, blacks, and cynical whites. She notes that the price of oil plays a large part in party power switching, especially the governor’s office, which she considers of primary importance.
Readers in Texas—and even nationally—who want change should pay attention and get started on the author’s to-do lists. She knows the territory, and she wants it back.