February 16, 2016

Small-town, small-county campaigning

I'm part of a group of Texas progressive bloggers, as you can see from the regular Monday posts here.

But, I'm different than about all of them in one way. The majority are in Houston. One or two are in the Metromess. One is down in the Valley. They're all in at least mid-sized if not larger metropolitan areas.

As for me? I'm out in true ruraldom, at the top of Deep East Texas. And, political campaigns are a bit different here.

First, the Red State sweep has completed its work. Every candidate for county or sub-county offices here, for the first time ever, has an "R" as his or her last initial.

(Professionally, I think it's dumb that people in small counties put that stock in this, almost as dumb as Texas, and every other state in the nation to the best of my knowledge, electing sheriffs.  But, it ain't in my power to change.)

Speaking of ...

Second, it's primarily about local issues. Despite some people thinking the wrong last initial makes you Satan's spawn, hence all local candidates here having the same last initial, local drug concerns and other things have little to do with Austin and almost zero to do with Washington. Any state grants are likely to be awarded here purely on merit, not political issues, and most federal grants will pass through the nonpartisan regional council of governments.

Third, while big-city politics is in part about the personal, it's more that way here.

Fourth, presentation styles differ.

Like, if you're running for constable, you have to wear a cowboy hat. Period. Our incumbent sheriff wore his, too. Related? Except for the district judge candidates, wearing some sort of blazer, but with no tie and with casual slacks, even jeans, is as dressy as you want to get.

Being "just folks" in how you speak to people is important, too. That's why that "uniform" of jeans and cowboy hat is important. For some candidates, a mouth full of tobacco may be an additional part of the image.

Fifth, if you think rumor and gossip drive national politics, you have no idea.

Facebook and other social media have probably done more to fuel "community" level versions of this, too, than they have national level versions. But, it was always there.

Sixth, it can often be "all about family."

The small towns and and small counties that are rumored to be so warm to outsiders often aren't so much, once one goes below surface-level activities. It's about how long you've lived there and "who your family are." (What church, if any, you attend may well pop up at some point too.)

No comments: