By Manifesto Joe
Last week, Texas' long-suffering Democratic Party overwhelmingly voted for Houston Mayor Bill White as the nominee to challenge Gov. Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry in November.
Even though White looks remarkably like Mr. Greenjeans from Captain Kangaroo, and is perhaps even less telegenic, he's believed to be the first Texas Democrat since Ann Richards to have a realistic chance at upsetting a GOP opponent for governor. But it's hard to tell that when one talks to many Anglos around here -- almost all members of my wife's large extended family are Republicans.
White has the image of a bald, bland, moderate technocrat, which should play to his advantage in a conservative state. Of course, the other side is painting him as a flaming closet liberal. That's not surprising, though I would give some Texas Republicans credit for being a shade to the left of Mussolini.
Another thing that may work in White's favor -- a surprising number of independent Texans, after more than nine years, are sick of having a laughingstock for governor. Perry had three challengers in the 2006 general election, and won with less than 40 percent of the vote. He could be vulnerable this time as well.
But Perry, for all his surface buffoonery, has something in common with fellow buffoon George W. Bush -- he somehow keeps winning. He's already Texas' longest-serving governor, and if he wins again, he'll be on his way to 14 years in office. In purely vote-getting terms, he must be doing something right. In trouncing U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and wingnut Debra Medina in last week's GOP primary, he certainly seems to have kept his base among the Republican right wing.
Here's a sample of the kind of silliness Texans can expect if they have the poor judgment to elect Perry for another four years. During the primary campaign, Governor Goodhair proposed a sort of cyber high school for those at high risk of dropping out. In other words, high school by computer for those whose family situations make it hard for them to be in class five days a week.
This is a harebrained idea straight out of Highland Park, where they must think everybody has a battery-powered laptop and a smart phone. It's certainly out of touch with the realities of the barrio, the ghetto and the colonia. It's even out of touch with the circumstances faced by many working-class Anglo kids.
For starters, America has already become largely divided into two groups: people who have personal computers, and those who don't. The latter group tends to be either very young or very old, and above all, poor. How likely is it that a minority teenager, perhaps being raised by a working single mother or a grandmother, will have easy access to a Web-connected personal computer? These days, there would be some. But the computer-less among us would include a heavy concentration of youths who are probably at the highest risk to become dropouts.
Ah, but can't they get cheap computers for teens whose families can't afford them? And wouldn't that be no more expensive than having the kid attend school in the conventional way?
OK -- now, what happens when the computer crashes? One of the big reasons yours truly is posting for the first time in over 10 days is that my computer was infected with a "rootkit." I wrestled with that for days, running anti-virus software that was ineffective. Finally, I had to pay a tidy little sum to a geek service to get my machine disinfected. In cyber high school, where is that money going to come from?
Anyway -- I don't know much about White or what he advocates for the state. I suppose we'll learn more about that in coming months. But I'm already for him. I'll take the bland technocrat over the laughingstock any day.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.