We have all heard it over and over again since the last election. “Liberty County voters rejected Barack Obama. Local Republican’s victories were all because of Obama’s failures.” Longtime activists local Democrats love to say these things. They love to discount the efforts made by local Republicans over the last fifteen years. They love to discount any effect Liberty Dispatch has had in leveling the playing field.
Local Democrat spinmeisters are oversimplifying their analysis of the last Liberty County election because it suits their purpose. Democrats around here survived Jimmy Carter and other poor leaders. They have chosen to try and magnify the Obama factor for several reasons.
The first reason to blame the head of their party is that if it is Obama’s fault, then they have no responsibility in being the first Democrats to lose like this in Liberty County since before William McKinley was assassinated in 1901. If that is true, if most voters voted differently than before because of the former Chicago based Senator, then local Democrats can continue the myth that they have always had better candidates. They can also continue to act as if their party has not had one scandal after another for years.
But prior to the last election, two more important things happened than the Obama factor. First, simultaneously the economy went south and local Democrat officials continued to raise spending and borrowing levels. Some would argue that ties into hearing about all of the spending and borrowing voters heard about in Washington. No argument here, local Democrats have always tried to say they were not like national figures in their party. They were being deceptive. The local borrowing and spending in the last four years has been done in record numbers.
Second, over the last fifteen years Republicans have moved to Liberty County at a higher rate than Democrats and the new move-ins were enlightened and angered about the scandalous behavior from local Democrats. New folks to this are didn’t fall for the shoot the messenger spin from the local media and other Democratic image makers.
Unfortunately for some who are now associating themselves with the Republican party, knowing that Obama is not the most important reason for recent party success means the next election will not necessarily be a shoe-in just because Obama will be headlining the Democrat’s ticket. If local Republicans don’t show they are different from Democrats, the next election could be a popularity contest or it could be a rejection of recent changes.
A week has not gone by when someone has not harassed one of us about the lack of changes by our new Republicans. The comments almost surely foreshadow the campaign we will see from Democrats in about ten months. One scandal involving a Republican and it could be that running as a Democrat will be an advantage locally.
Unless of course, our newly elected Republican officials roll back county spending to 2006 levels. People that are griping it has not happened – that nothing different has happened – may be showing the GOP how to solidify the trust they so badly need to build a strong and effective political effort to better this community. In 2010 Liberty County voters said enough. Now Republicans have to do enough to earn their trust.