SAN ANTONIO — There were rumblings that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would make an appearance, or maybe that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, would do the same. But, like most of the mysticism that has surrounded the prospects of Texas Democrats in recent years, it was proven to be no more than silly conjecture.
Indeed, no one even pretended that 2016 would be the big breakthrough for Democrats. Most statewide offices are not up for election, and some of the nominees for the few that are, such as Railroad Commissioner nominee Grady Yarbrough, are comically unqualified. Clinton almost certainly will not carry the state. (The Clinton campaign’s authorized agent in Texas, former Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, said as much.)
But there was optimism nonetheless. Polls currently show Clinton leading her presumptive Republican opponent, Donald Trump, by wide margins nationwide and in key swing states. And other fundamentals, such as Trump’s unprecedented unpopularity among women and Hispanics, suggest that his loss could be a cataclysmic landslide.
Most every speaker referenced Trump, by name or by innuendo. He was castigated as a racist, a moron, a misogynist, a wannabe despot and a fascist. Buttons and other merchandise derided everything from his outlandish hair to his allegedly tiny hands.
Everything obviously wasn’t peaches and cream. There were sparks of contention between Clinton’s supporters and those of her vanquished-but-not-surrendered opponent, Bernie Sanders. They fought over resolutions and other meaningless squabbles. Some Bernie Bros made appearances. But it was not reminiscent of the Nevada convention, with chair-throwing and death threats.
In the end, there was unity. While enthusiastic Clinton support from Berners was not ubiquitous, few paid homage to presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, one of Sanders’ most vociferous supporters in the state, also backed the presumptive Democratic nominee.
But the unity was not behind Clinton. It was against Trump. Everyone agreed that it would be a total, unequivocal disaster if the venal con man ascended to the presidency. And everyone, Team Hillary or Team Bernie, agreed to do what needed to be done to prevent it.
Four years is a long time. In 2012, when Texas Democrats met in Houston for their most recent presidential convention before this weekend, same-sex marriage and marijuana decriminalization were fought over tooth-and-nail in order to be added to the platform. Today, the former is a nationwide right ensured by the Supreme Court. As for the latter, this year’s Cannabis Caucus was one of the most widely-attended. (Kim Ogg, the Democratic nominee for Harris County District Attorney, received a lengthy standing ovation when she promised to end prosecution of misdemeanor marijuana cases if elected.)
The country and the state have come a long way in the last four years. Now, we must choose what the country and the state will look like after the next quadrennium.
Thankfully, after this weekend, Texas Democrats are unified to ensure those four years will not be known as the Era of Trump.
Horwitz is a first year law student from Houston. Follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.