I've always felt that life is guided by a certain sort of symmetry, so it is fitting that today, 10 years to the day after my first official post as part of the Burnt Orange Report Family, I offer my last.
I came into politics in Austin at what seemed like a unique moment in time. It was 2003, Texas mid-decade redistricting had gripped the state and national conversation. Tom DeLay, Tom Craddick, Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, and a host of statewide GOP officials set the tone for what became a decade of minimally rotated incumbency. The roots of Texas politics today stem from shifts in the nature of politics that began then. Wendy Davis's Gubernatorial campaign and resulting contest in SD-10 highlights the unfortunate success of this power grab from the voters- less than 5% of ALL Texas State Senate, House, and Congressional, SBOE, and Court of Appeals seats could charitably be labeled competitive.
Of course, a lot of stuff has happened, but the degree to which Texas has exported candidates, tactics, and celebrity to the national scene probably makes it the most important one to reflect on.
I was 19 when my first words appeared here. A lot of different stuff mattered then. This week I turned 29. And yeah, different stuff matters now. But it is frustrating to turn to politics and see so little having changed during that time. Especially because I really do have a passion for politics, the numbers, and what our democratic processes tell us about the nature and mood of the people who are supposed to be in charge of steering the Republic- voters.
This stagnation in our process, from the state level right on down to the local level in Austin, concerns me. Writing about it does not engender one to those who have the power to change the status quo. Low turnout, incumbency, and a variety of established interests have worked together to create a ruling class that is less about partisanship than it is about power and control over voters- voters who don't necessarily share the opinions of the the even larger nonvoting public.
Believe me, I've wanted to step away entirely. Politics can be sickening. Working in politics is often worse and probably requires its own Obamacare plan. It's just that the work is that important. Unfortunately, that work can no longer be done by offering an excess of free analysis (aka- free advice). Financially, it would be impossible. While it is an off-off year, I've made maybe ~$10,000 so far (a minor fraction of that from BOR). I do place a premium on politics but for what I need to do professionally, blogging doesn't make the ends meet and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future. And practically speaking, BOR's new direction does not necessitate my maintaining co-ownership or involvement in PAC activities.
So in the coming days, whenever the appropriate forms of government are not shutdown or closed, I'll be officially “formerly of” Burnt Orange Report after a solid decade of what has been an incredible, wild ride with National Progressives, Texas bloggers, Austin Insiders, UT Student Government, and the University Democrats. Together you make up a string of history, which I hope will be preserved for a long time to come.
For the questions about “What Next?”- Don't worry, because I'll be just as, if not more, involved as a result. My voice will still be out there as it always finds a place. I'm just ready to approach politics, just as I have life, from a different perspective.