Don’t Flex in Texas

After almost 4 years of working together on civil society and political campaigns (and two attempted trips scuppered by the pandemic) I was finally able to visit my client-turned-friend Gina Fant-Simon in Hays County, Texas, last month. Gina is the creator of Texas2020 and the Two Minute Take, and former Comms Director of Hays County Democratic Party. Over the years we have worked together to build digital voter literacy programming for Texans, an interactive online voter activation resource and tools, and we planned, created and implemented HaysDems’ digital strategy for the 2022 Midterms.

We had some hits and misses along the way, but ultimately we delivered the most successful election in HaysDems’ history, flipping every seat we contested blue, and building a digital foundation for Hays County Democrats. It was exhausting at times but incredibly rewarding, particularly when we swept the boards at the American Association of Political Consultants awards this year, winning 9 gongs including Best Use of Digital. So you’ll forgive me feeling it was a little lap of honour to finally visit Hays County and drive along the street names I’d gotten to know so well.

But hubris begets nemesis. Lest I got complacent, floating in Hays’ blue wave, my Lyft driver back to Austin-Bergstrom airport kindly reminded me: even in this ‘weird’ bubble, many Texans believe porn-for-toddlers abounds in libraries, where many books should be banned; kids are distracting classes by identifying as cats, because parents are failing in their moral obligation to raise children who won’t turn trans; and the Biden government wants to deny people the right to own their own property through mortgage regulation.

I flew from Austin to Washington with a tremor of urgency: even when we feel we’re winning these days, we’re not. Every election is crucial. Every win must be repeated, not banked. We might allow ourselves a pat on the back, but we must then get straight back up on our feet, whether we’re on the streets of Austin Texas, Dublin, Belgrade or beyond. Nevertheless, we persist.

~ Clare

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