Last updated 5/30/2023 at 5:21pm
How and why has there has been such a shift in politics in Southeast Texas? When I was growing up and running for office, Southeast Texas was the bright spot. The capitol income in Jefferson and Orange Counties was the highest in the state and near the top in teacher pay. Unemployment was virtually unheard of. Much of this prosperity was due to the strong unionization of wage earners in the state. Almost all local elected officials were Democrats.
During this period of time, winning an election, local or otherwise without union support was nigh to impossible. Now winning an election requires running as a Republican. With the number of high wage earners in these counties I find it difficult to understand why there was such a quick change in party loyalty. The shift is hard for me to understand, particularly because there exists so many reasons that members of labor would change as they have.
The Republican party has fought so many things consistent with benefits to working Texans that it is difficult to believe. As an example, the minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 per hour and has been that for over thirty years. Texas is one of the most difficult states in which to form a union and acquire added benefits such as family leave, time off to be able to cast ballots and many other provisions favorable to workers existing in most other states.
Industrial deaths and injuries are the highest than any state in the union as well as deaths related to environmental concerns and yet our state Republican leaders still refuse to address health care even though Texas leads the nation in citizens without medical insurance.
The shift in politics not only surprises me, it causes me to question whether I knew as much about politics as I have always thought I did.