Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Houston Columnist Bill King Sparks Lively Discussion with United Republicans of Harris County

Despite a very stormy night, United Republicans of Harris County hosted a full room of interested guests Tuesday evening. The featured speaker was Bill King, columnist for the Houston Chronicle. The audience was treated to a very candid talk about the current environment for Republicans in Harris County and Texas, as well as the national picture.

Mr. King frequently noted that the audience may not appreciate what he was saying, but it is important to understand the conclusions derived from polling, as well as census numbers.  The truth is, often those who attend political events live in a bit of a bubble.  It is normal to gravitate to events that will feature a speaker with views we also hold but it is essential to allow the whole picture on an issue to filter through.

Bill King began the speech by stating that, though he tends to vote Republican, he no longer considers himself a Republican.  He is an Independent voter.  Before he was introduced, a person addressing the crowd on behalf of a Republican candidate spoke to those in attendance about the importance of voting a straight Republican ticket.  Mr. King said he would not be voting a straight ticket and wasn't there to encourage anyone else to do so.

Clearly, this was going to get interesting.

King spoke about the growing numbers of Latino voters in Harris county and in the State of Texas. Republicans must find a way to speak to this demographic with compassion and intelligence in order to remain a viable political party.  This isn't random criticism, it is a real necessity.  He used the example of George W. Bush and his ability to garner 40% of the Latino vote in Texas and then carried a good amount of their support when he ran for President.  Since then, Republicans have failed miserably to grow that vote, instead falling backwards.

Mr. King noted that though the Latino community in general would be a natural for joining with the Republican Party in elections, candidates and party leaders unable to shed harsh rhetoric during campaigns, especially on social issues, send those voters to other candidates.  He used the example of abortion and gay marriage.  One topic already law, the other topic going that way across the country.
On immigration reform, King supports the U.S. Senate's bill as written.  He used the Romney campaign example of the unintended error of Romney's "they will self-deport" remark that sealed his fate on election day.  King does not believe that voter fraud plays a real role in the outcome of elections.  In the case of Mitt Romney, he noted that Romney lost by 5 million votes in November 2012. Who could believe that number was the fault of voter fraud, he asked.

I keep reading polls that show voters are not so concerned about immigration reform.  While it is important, it is not at the top of the issues driving voters to get out on election day.  This is also cited as a reason the President Obama has put it on the back burner until after the mid-term elections in November 2014 - why stir up the voters who might be angered against any executive action he may take on the subject?  Yet, during the question and answer portion of the program, the first question was about immigration reform.  Perhaps because Texans are quite in tune with the subject, as a border state which feels the impact of illegal immigration, the first questioner took King to task for what was perceived as his acceptance of those already here.  King said that, as a Christian, he thought it was morally wrong to have a policy that would send someone back to another country when that person had been raised in America.  He also stated that Evangelical voters were turning away from the Republican Party over this issue.

The question and answer portion of the program was spirited, to say the least.  This, to me, was the best part of the evening.  It is crucial that people come together and debate important issues while remaining civil to each other. That is what our nation was built upon - ideas, not tribes or geographical lines. As Mr. King pointed out, that is what makes America truly unique in the world. The United States of America is the only country built on the ideas of our founders.

It was apparent that the audience enjoyed the program and discussions.  The best part?  Everyone left energized and with a smile on their face.  That's a winning ending any day of the week.


Anthony Magdaleno said...

Excellent article, Karen. Great points made. Thanks for posting!

Karen Townsend said...

Thank you, Anthony.