5 Things Texas Dems Could Learn from the Astros...

(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Seems like it was just yesterday the Houston Astros won the World Series against the LA Dodgers.  Though it was perfect timing for my hurricane-ravaged hometown to be able to celebrate something so prolific, this win was in the works for a long time.  In fact, Sports Illustrated predicted in 2014 that the Astros would win the Big Show in 2017.  READ ARTICLE HERE

Ben Reiter interviewed the front office staff for the Astros back in 2014, and left with the following assumption after learning of their new strategy to shed weight and build a team, essentially from scratch.

"We settled on 2017 because the Astros’ young nucleus would by then be reaching its prime, because it seemed to more or less hew to the front office’s own timeline—which, they promised, would eventually include a payroll hike—and because three years, in baseball, is actually not the blink of an eye."

The idea for this blog entry came about 6:15am this morning.  Damian LaCroix, a candidate for State Senate, sent me a quick message on Facebook messenger reaching out to to me to talk about his campaign.  It was 6:00am.  I, the early bird I am, was already awake as well.  I told Damian I was free to chat right then.  Long story short, by the end of our conversation, he'd earned my support, and dropped a few nuggets.  One of the big "Aha" moments from the conversation was his mention of how the Astros rebuilt their team to eventually win the World Series.  

I believe if Texas Democrats really want to "Turn Texas Blue," they should look to the Astros for inspiration.  Here's my list of 7 things Texas Dems Could Learn from the Astros:

1.  Be Progressive... like foreal

The General Manager of the Astros looked forward to 2017 and built a team from scratch.  Texas Dems will have to create slates that are appetizing to voters.

Though Democrats often claim to be the party of progress, let's look at their electorate in the Texas House and Senate, and how that "Progress" is reflected.  of the 31 members of the Texas Senate, 20 are Republicans, and 11 are Democrats.  of the 20 Republicans, 13 of them (65%) of them are 40-59 years old.  The rest are 60 are older.  

Now let's look at the Democrats.

Of the 11 Democratic Senators, 7 of them are over 60, and with an average of 25 years of "service."  I put service in quotes to be facetious.  I believe some are there to serve their own interests and egos than those they were elected to serve.

Each of the projects HoustonJustice.Org has launched have had a concrete, measurable goal attached to it.  We grade our impact according to things we can actually count.  How many voter registrations behind bars for #ProjectOrange?  How many new leaders having conversations about school closures.  

We must go to a strategy of servant leadership with measurable impact.  If not, we'll continue to have popularity contests each November.

How else could you explain the state of public education in Texas... in constant decline, while some boast 40+ years of "service."  In my opinion, if you've been there during "The Great Decline," you should be able to look in the mirror and bow out gracefully instead of clutching your seat 'til the Lordt calls you home.  Oh, and that "t" is there on purpose.

2. Vote for Good Candidates, Not "Viable" Ones

Nothing grinds my gears more than hearing "experts" talk about viability.  Was Obama a viable Presidential Candidate in 2008 according to their standards?  Trump in 2016?  Exactly.  

So many know-it-alls end up throwing support behind who they think will win rather than who they actually want to elect.

Could you imagine what the Astros lineup would look like if people got to vote???  Craig Biggio, Jose Cruz and Jeff Bagwell would still be on the team.  Hell, Nolan Ryan, too LOL.  The experts would point to their viability and seniority.  

Let's talk about seniority for a second while we're at it.  

I'm 31.  

In 10 years or so, my generation will be in our 40's, and entering the halls of government at a greater rate than today.  For this to work out the right way, we need some of those in their 60's to retire/self-select so that those currently in their 40's/50's can get their 10 years in.  10 years from now, some will stay, but others will move on to higher office.

By the way: what good is seniority if their constantly closing schools and using that cheap black asphalt to repair streets in your district?  I doubt it there's malicious intent, but instead, ineffectiveness after being on the same job so long.  40 years is a VERY long time.

3. Endorsements Should Mean Something

The Astros chose their team based on their ability, and the long-term vision of the team.  They didn't care about personal relationships or how many memberships a potential recruit could afford.

Yeah, I went there.

Some organizations basically sell their endorsements to the highest bidder.  Here's how it works:

Organization X will have their endorsement meeting at their January 15th meeting.  Dues-paying members will be allowed to participate in the endorsement process.  Before that actual meeting, a group of volunteers from said organization form a screening committee to conduct in-depth interviews with candidates. 

Most of these people are well-intentioned volunteers donating their time for the betterment of their organization and society as a whole.  Others are "gutter" opportunists chasing candidates down the hall to offer their "services" for nominal fees.  Some are desperate enough to say "Hey I can help you get this endorsement and others for $500."

Yeah.  I almost named names, but that's not necessary.

Anyway, right before the endorsement meeting, candidates pay hundreds/thousands of dollars to buy memberships for "new members" whose only mission is to attend that meeting and get them the esteemed endorsement. 

But here's the kicker:  these endorsements sometimes aren't worth the cheap campaign lit they're printed on.

If an organization's only ACTIVISM and most popular meetings are the endorsement meeting, how far is their reach?  How devoted are their "members?"  Yeah, I said it.

The Astros wanted to WIN more than they wanted to be popular.  

When establishment groups actually consider non-incumbents, we'll get somewhere.

4. No More Tokens

Listen, I've been invited to sit on committees, boards, etc. in my 31 years on this planet.  Most of the time, these experiences have been worthwhile and meaningful.  Other times, it became abundantly clear that I was meeting a "quota."  They wanted me to be "The Black," or "The Youth" on their otherwise homogenous boards.  They wanted my handsome face for the board photo on the website and literature, but didn't want my Black voice or young opinions when it came time to make decisions on where resources would be devoted.

Pay attention to groups that want you to show up, but don't want to listen to what you have to say.

You might be a token.

The Astros had no tokens, and neither should the party.

5. Accountability?

Say what you want about Republicans, but LOCALLY they hold their elected officials accountable.  If someone votes the "wrong" way, they get a primary opponent.  (note I had t put "wrong" in quotes because it's usually "right" in my book.)

Anyway, there's a grading system.  They don't just send their elected officials to Austin like mom and dad send Junior off to summer camp LOL.  They WATCH them.

Dems don't.

The entire Democratic Caucus voted along with Republicans on a House Bill led by State Rep Harold Dutton that will likely close Black and Brown schools across the state...at least those are the proposals based on his bill.

And guess what?  Nobody is asking him about this.  (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT DUTTON'S HISD SCHOOL CLOSURE BILL)

Furthermore, if people remain unchallenged, the Democrats will never have a statewide officeholder with statewide name recognition, and will continue to run mayors and state senators for governor instead of statewide seat holders.

Spicy down-ballot races increase turnout that could add more to up-ballot, statewide seats.

The Astros obviously only held on to players that could pull their weight.  Imagine if a player continued to blame the other team (other party) for their constant failures on the field.  Think they'd last?


Durrel K. Douglas is co-founder of HoustonJustice.Org, a grassroots, member-led organization addressing racial justice, mass incarceration and justice reform in Houston.