Sad news from Texas today as long time Congressman/Senator/Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen died.
Bentsen was one of a long line of fierce Texas Democrats who weren't afraiad to stand up for their liberal beliefs because they knew they were helping their constituents. These Texas Democrats are still around, but they're not as prominent and don't hold any major offices at the moment.
Bentsen was in the House of Representatives for ten years, and was a four term Senator. He won his first race for the Senate in a landslide over George HW Bush. In 1988 Benstsen was Dukakis' running mate so I guess Bush got his revenge in the long run. Bill Clinton made a mistake by naming Bentsen Treasury Secretary in 1992, not because he was a bad secretary, but because Bentsen's seat was picked up by Kay Bailey Hutchison who has held it ever since.
There was a time in American politics when you could be from a Southern state and still be pro-choice, and pro-women's rights and pro worker's rights and still
be incredibly popular and respected. Bentsen was Senator in a time before the Republicans started using religion as a weapon and were able to convince people to voter for candidates who don't have their best interests in mind.
But things might be changing. Candidates like Paul Hackett, James Webb, Brian Schweitzer, and hell even Kinky Friedman down in Texas show that strong people who speak their mind can find support in the Reddest of states. If the Democrats retake one or both houses of Congress this year it will be in large part to the return of fierce candidates like Lloyd Bentsen.