Three articles, one message: Texas Republicans are overtly hostile to Hispanics, and they should have consequences to face at the ballot box because of it. This issue has been made all the more clear just in the past few weeks, with the intersection of Victor Carrillo's primary loss, the SBOE vendetta against Hispanic historical figures, and a new report on the changing demographics of Texas.
On primary day, incumbent Republican Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo lost in a landslide to an unqualified no-name who had the great luck to be baptized “David Porter.” Carrillo's $600,000 campaign was helpless against the innate distrust of Hispanic last names amongst Republican base voters. In a letter to supporters, Carrillo openly addressed the anti-Hispanic bias that pervades the Republican Party of Texas:
Given the choice between “Porter” and “Carrillo” – unfortunately, the Hispanic-surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover although I did all in my power to overcome this built-in bias. I saw it last time but was able to win because the “non-Carrillo” vote was spread among three Anglo GOP primary opponents instead of just one.
Carrillo goes on to address how this will remain a problem for GOP candidates, particularly as the Hispanic portion of the electorate expands. Luckily for Democrats, I don't think the Republicans are listening. They're too committed to their regressive social agenda to dare read the handwriting on the wall here in Texas.
Memo to independent Hispanic voters: the Republican Party does not want you. They will do all they can to not nominate anyone who looks like you. If the voters had another choice for Place 9 on the Supreme Court of Texas than Eva Guzman and Rose Vela, one wonders if either of them would have prevailed either.
The anti-Hispanic bias of Texas Republicans was again on display last week at the State Board of Education meeting as important Hispanic figures were struck from the history books. Heroes who fought at the Alamo were removed in favor of a Confederate general who later served as President of Texas A&M. “A fine gentleman,” McElroy called him.
After hours of such debate, Democratic SBOE member Mary Helen Berlanga had had enough and let the Republican-dominated Board hear it:
“You complained about the lists (of Hispanic figures) being too long … And now it looks like you're able to put in the names all of these people, God knows who they are,” [Berlanga] said. “So I've had it … I'm leaving for the evening. Everyone can go ahead and remove the Tejanos who died at the Alamo and we can all pretend that we live in white America and Hispanics don't exist.”
Conservatives simply will not face facts that Texas will in future years be majority Hispanic, Berlanga said. And Hispanic children need to learn their own heritage, which would also benefit all races. “They just aren't facing the figures dealing with the population of our state,” she said.
Most disgusting? Don McLeroy–who shepherded many of these anti-Hispanic changes through–was defeated in his primary two weeks ago. Yet he still sits on the board through the end of his term, now with even less reason not to further destroy public education.
It's ironic–the title of the Texas Tribune article quoting Berlanga is “We're Outnumbered.” The Democrats on the SBOE are indeed outnumbered. But across our state, it's the conservative, Hispanic-fearing Anglos that are outnumbered, as an excellent feature on former State Demographer Steve Murdock, who looks at the growing Hispanic population in Texas as the biggest factor in terms of demographic change:
The factor that I argue may be more important than all the others is the growth in the diversity of the Texas population. Texas is basically now – as of about 2003, less than half Anglo. And if you look at urban area after urban area after urban area, you see Dallas County, you see Harris County, which started this decade with Anglos not being 50 percent, but being the largest single group, have seen such a transition that by this time Hispanics in both those counties are now the largest single group. So the growth of Hispanics has been about 62 percent of all groups in Texas.
… the Census Bureau now projects that by 2042, the U.S. population will be less than half Anglo. It's really startling, I think, that by 2023, over half the children in America will be non-Anglo. When I first started talking about this thirty years ago, people said that's probably not going to happen. Well, it's happened. And there's nothing in the cards that can really reverse that pattern. The growth in the Hispanic population is not all immigration. In fact, in Texas, the majority of it is natural increase.
By 2023, more than half of Americans will be non-Anglo. In Texas, they already are. Our public school systems educate a student body that is over 40% Hispanic. We educate Hispanic children whom the Republican SBOE members want to make sure never learn about the many great individuals who share their heritage.
If we're going to make this a state for all Texans regardless of ethnicity, we need to get rid of these intolerant Republicans. One way to make great gains immediately is by increasing turnout this November in Democratic-majority Hispanic areas, particularly the Rio Grande Valley. We can make great strides towards this end by supporting voter registration and turnout efforts in our border counties, which traditionally can lag in November turnout by up to 50%. Just helping these Democratic strongholds vote at the same pace of the rest of the state can make all the difference for our candidates.
At the end of the day, I'm a Democrat, and I want Democrats to win. But I don't want the Republican Party to be the last vestige of open racism in America–not as long as they can still win elections anywhere. I don't want one of our major political parties to nakedly campaign on fostering racial intolerance. (See: George Allen, Sarah Palin rallies, hate-radio rhetoric about the current President.) Nobody benefits–especially not the changing population of Texas, whose leaders would rather marginalize a majority of our residents than look for ways in which we can all succeed together.