When I decided to run for Congress one of the best pieces of advice I received was from my friend the late J.B. Hall, long time Democrat and fierce advocate for his community. When I told him I was running for Congress he looked up at me, set his firm jaw and said “Be bold.” I hope that I lived up to that advice. It is advice we as rural Democrats desperately need to hear.

Notice that he said nothing about contacting the party in Austin, nothing about fundraising, nothing about organization, nothing about voter registration and nothing about GOTV…

Saturn Devouring His Son by Goya ca. 1823

Saturn was one of the Titans who overthrew his father Uranus in order to rule the heavens. He so feared one of his children doing the same to him that he devoured five of his children as soon as they were born. When Zeus was born, to save him his mother gave Saturn a rock wrapped in cloth to swallow instead. Zeus ultimately became King of the Olympian Gods. After fighting a ten year war, he overthrew the Titans, including Saturn, and imprisoned them in Tartarus.

The moral of this story — don’t be like Saturn.

That is easier said…

I have heard lots of rumors over the past several weeks of people that are planning to run for Texas Democratic Party Chair. There seems to be a growing call for radical change and new leadership at the state party. I am a vocal critic of the party, particularly its failure to rise to the challenge of being a state wide party for a diverse state — politically, ethnically, culturally, economically. You would think I would be jumping up and down clamoring for new leadership and radical change. But I am no radical and no revolutionary. …

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

There is one major obstacle standing in the way of Democratic growth in rural Texas — political pessimism. It pervades every county, every county party, ever volunteer, every Democratic primary voter. Democrats out here walk around with a sense that can only be described as political nihilism — nothing you do matters so why even try. I don’t care how much money or work we pour into rural Texas, unless we can destroy this culture and attitude, making progress will be extremely difficult. Our task as rural Democrats is already hard enough without the prevailing pessimism.

Unbridled optimism is not…

Photo by Jon Toney on Unsplash

There once was a farmer who had a big gray horse and a wagon. Now this farmer had been taught by his daddy and granddaddy the most important thing was to never put the cart before the horse. He took that to heart. So after his harvest he decided it was time to take his grain to market. So one morning he went and got the horse and hitched him to the wagon. As soon as he finished hitching the horse to the wagon he went to go get the grain. …

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

If rural democrats are going to be successful long term we need better leadership in regional planning and cooperation. Notice I said, cooperation not coordination. If I had a dime for every time someone has mentioned having a coordinated campaign — we don’t need coordination. We need partnership and true cooperation in achieving a single objective. The individualist, go it alone county party model must be discarded.

Every county party falls into this trap. It is not our fault. It was designed this way. But it was designed for a very different world than the one we live in. A…

Photo City of San Angelo Water Distribution Dept.

I use the phrase political infrastructure in my writing and speaking about rural Democratic efforts a lot. Quite often people ask what that means. The best and simplest way I can describe it is to compare it to our dismal and dilapidated highways, water mains, bridges and the other crumbling infrastructure problem we have all over this country. The vulnerability and failure of the electric grid and our municipal water delivery systems during the recent snowstorm is a prime example.

If you have all the money in the world, the best people and the best message but you don’t have…

Graphic courtesy of Hannah Horick and The 134 PAC

There are the 39 counties west of the I-35 corridor in Texas that have no Democratic County Chair— Andrews, Armstrong, Borden, Carson, Cochran, Coke, Concho, Crockett, Dallam, Dawson, Floyd, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Irion, Kimble, Kinney, Knox, Loving, Lynn, Martin, Mills, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Reagan, Roberts, San Saba, Shackleford, Sherman, Stephens, Sterling, Sutton, Swisher, Throckmorton, Ward, Winkler, Yoakum.

But the problem goes much deeper than these 39. They are just scratching the surface. There are dozens, maybe scores, more counties in rural Texas that, whether there is a name in the seat or not, effectively have no county chair and…

Photo by Adam Thomas on Unsplash

I talk to a lot of folks from across the country on social media about politics in general and Texas politics specifically. Many that I follow and converse with are not in Texas, and are much more progressive than the average Texas voter — especially rural Texas voters. Many of them are from urban or suburban areas. Like me, they find much about Texas GOP dominated politics disconcerting and they express their views. Sometimes in anger or frustration their criticisms go beyond a particular elected official or GOP policy proposal and include a general criticism or attack on Texas as…

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

“I hate ‘isms.” Someone said this to me the other day and it really stuck. There are a bunch of ‘isms — conservatism, liberalism, libertarianism, populism, socialism, communism, progressivism. I do hate all of ‘em.

I said something similar during my congressional campaign. Mine was “I hate labels.” These statements both convey the same idea —we should reject everything that limits us and does not help win elections. These are things that just stand in the way.

This is especially true when talking about rural Democratic politics. Ideologies, purity tests and oaths of allegiance to one particular view of the…

Jon Mark Hogg

West Texas Lawyer and former Democratic Candidate for Congress

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