Signal contributor Joe Deshotel spoke to Brittany Switzer, Senior Brand Director at the Texas Democratic Party. They discussed the Texas GOP convention fiasco, the Republican response to COVID-19, and the Texas Democratic Party’s plans to win in November. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
You can listen to the full interview here.
What were you doing while the GOP was having its convention? Were you actually tuned in yourself to most of the circus?
Yeah, definitely. I think for a lot of folks at the Texas Democratic Party, you know, we just put on our super-successful convention ourselves, so we were all really interested to just see what the Republicans are up to. And it was very clear from the beginning that this was gonna be a very long and disastrous convention.
What do you think was going through James Dickey’s head? Do you think he saw the writing on the wall that this was his last hurrah? What do you think was going on in his head as the chairman of the party who was responsible for all this?
Well, one of the things that I think about when I look at the difference between our Texas Democratic convention and the Republican Party convention is that our conventions really sum up both parties’ responses to the coronavirus. For Democrats we saw early on that we were gonna have to switch to a virtual convention. We made the swap to keep everyone safe and started doing the testing of all the different platforms we were gonna be using, taking all the necessary precautions, thinking through everything that could possibly happen and what our contingency plans for those would be. And I think that’s why our convention did so well. We planned we listened to doctors, scientists, and technologists to get our convention together. And then, you know, the Republicans kind of put their head in the sand and they didn’t want to plan the convention for reality. They kept going deeper and deeper into the in-person hole. And I think that that’s what we saw in this convention and I think that former Republican chairman James Dickey was trying to save a seat because he was in a superheated primary. I can only imagine what went through his head every single day because we all watched the convention. We saw how much of a disaster was. And so I imagine it wasn’t good.
I was surprised to see that Allen West won because I just thought that there’s got to be enough people there who realized how bad of an idea that would be, to elect Allen West. I thought it was pretty clever what you guys did to endorse James Dickey simply because of the successes you guys have seen.
It was definitely a fun release to put together.
And it’s pretty, pretty wild to think that the person who is replacing him is a guy retweeted by Trump basically congratulating him. Of course, Dan Patrick is his campaign chair for Texas and I think it was just released today that Ken Paxton is co-chair for Lawyers for Trump. I thought it was gonna be our job to tie them to Trump. It sounds like they’re doing some of that work for us. How are you gonna use that moving forward?
I saw a poll recently that something like 80 percent of Republican primary voters said the most important issue to them was elected officials who are going to support Trump. And when I saw that it was just absolutely wild to me that that was the top issue by a lot. Especially when we’re faced with a global pandemic, millions of Americans are unemployed, millions of Americans have the coronavirus, and almost 150,000 Americans have died from it. For the number one issue to be someone who supports Trump, it really just shows the disconnect between the Republican Party and what is happening in reality.
From what I understand, they didn’t get enough of a beat down during that zoom that they actually want to have a second round. Is that the case and have they planned the date for that?
I’m not sure if they’ve planned the date, but I believe that they are having a second round. They weren’t able to get through all of their business because of all the technical troubles they had with a virtual convention. One thing I also think about is that a lot of us were like, ‘ha, ha, they’re gonna have their convention at an outdoor rodeo.’ Why would they do that? It’s 110 degrees outside! But while it’s kind of funny, it’s also really, really terrifying that they would put workers in danger and ultimately someone would have died had they had that in-person convention. It was just too many people who were gonna be crammed either inside at the convention center or at the goat rodeo. That is exactly how they’re approaching the coronavirus. We’re right around the corner from schools reopening. And that’s how little they care about the coronavirus, that they would have goat rodeo for a convention. Yeah, it is scary to think about.
You brought up schools reopening. I was struck by Round Rock ISD and Fort Bend within the same day announcing that they were not going to send students back to school. And this is right when Trump is saying we gotta get back. And the polls are showing suburbanites and older white Americans losing faith in the party that’s been anti-government. We actually now need the government more than ever.
We all want to get back to our normal life. We all wanna go out and see our friends and our family members. Because of Republican refusal to take this pandemic seriously, it’s drawing out the quarantine so much longer than it needed to be. We’re here talking about the Republican convention, but they might have been able to host that convention in-person had we had mask policies and other policies to keep people safe.
One other person who has taken heat for that is Governor Abbott. We saw that several counties tried to censure or did censure him. But there aren’t a lot of teeth to that censure. It seems like at the convention there was a movement to turn that censure into potentially not allowing Abbott to even be on the ballot as a Republican. Do you know much about that effort or where that went?
I believe that’s something they’re taking up in the second half. I remember seeing that and just thinking how ludicrous it was. It goes back to Republicans’ number one issue being supporting Trump and here they’re trying to censure and make the punishment that Republicans can’t even run for office if they disagree with something on their party platform. I just think that’s not healthy in any way for making our country a better place and making our democracy a better place. We should all be able to talk about the issues and what different ideas we have to solve the problems that our country faces. That’s one of the reasons why I love working for the Texas Democratic Party because we can have those healthy discussions for our party. [The Republicans] just wanna lock everything down.
So Trump just started wearing a mask, he just posted a picture about six months too late. Do you think that that is gonna have an effect on the MAGA crowd? Do you think they’re gonna start embracing masks? Or is it too late? Are they gonna look down on Trump now?
I can’t tell you what they’re gonna think or do, but I can tell you I think that the best time to wear a mask is now. And so I welcome anyone who was hesitant about wearing a mask to put their mask on. It’s the cool thing to do.
Is there anything else you’d like to highlight or talk about that that’s on your plate and that folks listening might wanna be looking out for?
If you’re tired of Texas Republicans and Trump making a mockery of our state and if you’re ready to elect Joe Biden, MJ, Hegar and all of our wonderful Democrats up and down the ballot, sign up to volunteer. We have a ton of volunteer opportunities right now, and voter contact work and voter mobilization are so critical. So if you want a volunteer, visit texasdemocrats.org to sign up, and we would absolutely love your help.
What kind of voter contact are you guys doing since you can’t knock on doors?
Lots of phone calls, texts, e-mails, anything that’s online. We’re exploring it. We just kicked off our black voter outreach program, which is really, really cool. We’re gonna be contacting 1.5 million black Texans, help them get registered to vote, help folks get what they need. We’re also building up our voter expansion program so we can get more Texans to register to vote so ultimately we can win in November. Those are just two of the many big things that we’re kicking off right now.
Photo: Texas Democratic Party