Austin at Large: A Puddle You Can Drown In
Democracy survives another round, but we don’t know about Apesh*t’s mind
The sense of relief we all felt overnight Tuesday into Wednesday (this morning, as we go to press) has for me settled into feeling like the whole thing was anticlimactic, like a movie that was just OK. It was fine! The world wasn't going to end in any event, but there is even a little bit of satisfaction.
Yes, the continued iron rule of a seriously incompetent GOP regime in Texas is a real drag, but even that set of disappointments, from Beto on down, is at least clarifying. Now we know. They keep telling us who they are, we should believe them and focus on something else. (This is where I end my piece in the results package, so maybe go read that and then come back? It's been a long day.)
Like, focus on what we're good at! City councils, school boards, county offices, water and soil districts, what have you. The Texas Republicans do not dare redistrict all the veteran Dems out of the Lege because they would lose so much valuable expertise; this is where we build that expertise. This is also where we can most effectively take over where state government is derelict. The last session showed us that there is no meat to GOP messaging, so just ignore them and see what happens. It would not surprise me if through odd stratagems and workarounds and perhaps a little federal help, we will have safe, illegal, but tolerated abortion care in Texas again before the next census. That's the most extreme and speculative case I can think of; I think better education and infrastructure and even health care for Texans can be delivered by local partnerships that aren't dependent on the weak tools of state government.
We Can Read the Room, Too
I've known both Celia Israel and Kirk Watson for a long time, and so have a lot of other people, so when we talk about the mayor's race, we talk about the things Kirk and Celia (it's a first-name town) actually did or didn't do in their careers, going back decades, and how the connections each has made have impacted this campaign. And we forget that most Austinites do not know any of this about these people. Kirk Watson is an aging white man with a pretty thick drawl who rides an expensive motorcycle. Celia Israel is none of those things, and neither are most Austinites, and they find her more relatable. I'm not sure how Watson changes that; the electorate is different in a run-off but it's not more cognitive and less intuitive.
Likewise down the ballot in the three Council races going to run-off. Each pits a man (one white, one Latino, one Asian) against a Latina. So this is already a thing, which is good for candidates to have when they can't raise as much money as better-connected opponents. Voters in these districts had more choices than the de facto binary for mayor (at least for Democrats who won't vote for Jennifer Virden), and I'm looking forward to talking with the remaining contenders more than we had a chance to in the very large endorsement meetings. The men running vary on the degree to which they are cognitive (Ryan Alter) or intuitive (José Velásquez) or both (Zo Qadri), but the women are all intuitive, like Celia. Just putting a marker down here.
Apesh*t’s Gonna Break
Zooming out to the big red and blue nation, we don't know who won, but we know who lost! The red wave may just be a puddle, but it's a deep enough one for Donald John Apesh*t Trump to drown in.
I have reached the point that I no longer care what happens to our president once-removed. I have a hard time believing any legal consequences are headed his way (maybe in Atlanta for election tampering; Brian Kemp would not stand in its way like Ron DeSantis would). I just want him to be powerless, which he basically is, and the dumber he looks the more so he becomes. If Trump were not diseased, damaged, and bent, he could play the changes of white Christian nationalism more effectively and not step on his own d*ck so often. As it is, we know every single decision is that of a child, so they're predictable and ignorable. But the fact that he basically screwed the party's attempts to have even a normal first midterm performance, let alone a wave, in both the House and the Senate punctures his sense of inevitability – that of course he will run, and win, and could beat Biden if he wasn't the guy with the liabilities of power. Will he try to do all those things? Yes. Will he succeed? Even if he does, he just doesn't have the range he did before he foisted the Losers of 2022 upon the world – that is, a few weeks ago.