DALLAS — This past weekend, thousands of Democrats assembled in Dallas for the State Democratic Convention. Cheers erupted throughout the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center as state Sens. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte were officially nominated as their party’s candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.
But for a party so desperate for some traction in this deep red state, where the Democrats have not won statewide in 20 years, the Democrats sadly appear relegated to small-minded ideology trumping pragmatism. On Thursday, the State Democratic Executive Committee —the driving mechanism behind the State Party— voted to place sanctions on certain candidates in Democratic primaries. These sanctions involved barring said candidates from accessing a database called “VAN” (Voter Activation Network), which allows candidates to access primary voting records of individual voters, thus allowing a more efficient campaign effort in a Democratic primary.
The candidates affected would be those who either voted in the most recent Republican primary election or donated at least $1,000 to a Republican candidate or interest group. This asinine policy is misguided for two reasons.
First, as Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa pleaded to committeepersons on Thursday, the rule could disadvantage many Democrats in rural counties, where Republicans are often the only game in town at the local level.
However, a less-discussed point is that the policy could have the effect of dissuading wayward Republicans from leaving their party and crossing the aisle, so to speak, to the other side. In overruling their chairman and adopting this policy, the State Democratic Executive Committee has sent a message loud and clear that only the purest of pure Democrats are welcome within the party.
If you had gone down the convention hall to look at the slogans coming out of Dallas this past weekend, they were replete with criticisms of purity tests within the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the Democrats have proved they are no better.
Horwitz is a government junior from Houston.