Peña’s Political Leap is Really About Democrats

Truth be told, Texas state Rep. Aaron Peña’s outing himself as a Republican is not the scandal we may think it is. It’s the natural succession of political tendencies that have crept to the farthest and final bastions of the Texas Democratic political-machine establishment.

My grandfather was a stalwart Democrat. He was a businessman who cared for his community and was involved in the back-room dealings of local politics. He was also conservative, and although he may tussle where he lies, if he were alive today it wouldn’t surprise me if he were Republican.

The thing is that there’s been a slow Republican flow moving through Texas for decades. This used to be a one party state and traces of republicans or republicanism were rare. The fact that Texas is now considered a red states ignores the deeply blue corners of the southern tip where Democrats have held sway for many generations of politicians, voters, and activists.

Little by little the red wave has made it’s way south and Peña’s defection is no more than a plot point in a larger political story.

On the other hand, if you get into the weeds of the matter and ask some needed questions the story becomes compelling, in the way a train wreck gets your attention, and engrossing, the way whispered gossip makes you focus your listening.

Let’s keep our questions to one. Why now?

The fact that Peña was recently re-elected is of lesser consequence than the fact that the state legislature will soon go into session and the battles that loom are enormous.  Both sides of the political isle in Austin are preparing for epic horse trading in redistricting and spending bills. Something or someone has a powerful persuasive hold over the good representative form Edinburg, and it may just be himself. It may just be that he felt the time was finally right for a public switch (as would be expected, Monday morning political hacks are saying Peña was never really a Democrat). It could also be that the Democratic machine in the deepest part of Texas has grown rusty, tired and predictable.

We can’t ignore the fact that Peña didn’t only move away from something; in that same swoop he move toward a welcoming Republican party. And think what you may of him or of his new comrades in political arms, his former party mates had no idea what to do about it. They stutter-stepped, they flabbergasted, then they brought out their paddles for the trip up the proverbial creek.

Peña’s defection changes the political balance in Austin, and that may well be the reason, motive and bottom line.

Was he smart for doing it? He’s one of the cool kids now, but how long will that last? Just because one politico found the stones to jump doesn’t mean his constituents will follow him. Or does it? This story, then, is not so much about Peña’s leap or the lure of the Republican party. This is about a stale Democratic organization with very visible cracks in it’s old walls. It’s about the years and generations of Democratic leadership taking its south Texas constituents for granted. It’s about a needed change in the way Latinos in Texas do their political business. It’s a pail-of-ice-water wake up call, and in that sense it’s about time.

[Photo courtesy aaronpena.com]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

How a harsh criticism turned ‘Coco’ into Pixar’s most uniquely made movie yet

Victor Landa November 17, 2017

Director Lee Unkrich was hot off the box office success and Oscar win for 2010’s “Toy Story 3” when he delved into making a movie that focused on the Mexican […]

Trump Administration Targets and then Mocks Immigrant with Prosthetic Leg

Victor Landa November 15, 2017

A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant with prosthetic leg and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has been detained by federal immigration agents and held without charges for over a month, treated inhumanely […]

More Latinas are becoming teachers and reshaping our nation’s classrooms

Victor Landa November 29, 2017

The growth of the Latino population in the United States will have a lasting cultural and intellectual impact beyond the arts, food, and celebrations. More and more, Latinas are becoming […]

As Numbers Grow, Recognizing Generations Of Latino Veterans

Victor Landa November 10, 2017

As the nation honors its veterans, government officials point to the growing numbers of Latinos in the military, while Hispanic scholars and historians remind us of the generations of Latino […]

U.S Hispanic Chamber Leader Who Has Had Turbulent Relationship With Trump May Be Ousted

Victor Landa November 22, 2017

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) is moving behind the scenes to oust its prominent president Javier Palomarez over allegations that he misused the organization’s money for his personal […]

How Indie Latinx Comic Book Authors Are Capturing the Latinx Experience

Victor Landa November 13, 2017

Back in 2010, comics creator Javier Hernandez was walking around San Francisco with his friend Ricardo Padilla when he had an idea: Why don’t they build a comics convention focusing […]

Half of Latino Immigrant Characters on TV Are Portrayed as Criminals, Study Finds

Victor Landa November 1, 2017

Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors, and producers concerning Latino immigrant characters. Immigrants and […]

Could Hispanic vote push Lupe Valdez into Texas Governor’s Office?

Victor Landa December 8, 2017

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues– particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says […]