As the work week is ending and we head into the weekend, I always look forward to making my weekend plans with my family. This weekend is the second scheduled Texas Senate debates between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. Last weekend they had the first debate, held in Dallas at Southern Methodist University, and anyone who watched it knows, it did not disappoint. My husband and I were looking for a restaurant or venue showing the debate, and we were excited to see it was an event at the Alamo Drafthouse.
When we first arrived and made our way towards the theater, I was pulled aside by a news correspondent for KTBC, the local Fox News affiliate here in Austin. They wanted to know if they could interview me and discuss my views on the upcoming debate. Without hesitation, I said yes, but I was immediately anxious and nervous about being on television, even if it was just for the local news.
Initially, the field reporter wanted to know if I was specifically interested in Senate debates, but I told him I am typically far more attentive to presidential debates, but this particular Texas senate race is more important than many we have had in the past. Texas bleeds red for Republicans and has for the past several decades. Long since the days have passed when Texas Democrats like Lyndon B. Johnson and Ann Richards have led the state. I am excited to see the possibility of Texas turning blue once again!
Right now, we are truly a country divided, our modern civil war, and it has become even more complicated with Trump now in a position to appoint a second supreme court justice. Yesterday, the world watched the Senate Judiciary Committee question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh regarding allegations of an attempt at sexual assault (I’m with Her). Who knows how this will turn out, but in the end, if Trumps appoints another conservative Republican who is against the Affordable Healthcare Act, has a narrow view on Roe v. Wade, and is considered a “true second amendment radical” our civil rights may truly be in jeopardy. A world where Donald Trump controls all three branches of the government just cannot happen. If we can put a Texas Democrat in the Senate and make our government slightly more balanced, then there is some hope.
But, I digress…the reporter went on to ask if there were particular issues I am interested in during this debate. Anyone who knows me, okay, or anyone who has just met me, knows I am a bleeding-heart liberal. I wear it with pride on my sleeve. Social issues such as immigration, healthcare, and education are essential to me, and I understand that services, government, and our everyday needs of roads, police, and public schools have to be paid for by the people. I firmly believe people will complain about taxes regardless of which party holds office, so for me, the social issues will always be far more important than fiscal.
I walked away from the interview feeling pretty proud of myself, so I texted my mother and asked that she records the 10:00, news so I could check it out later. For some silly reason, I felt like I had been a voice of the people and standing up for my convictions. Rather than feeling anxious, I was proud of myself and excited to see myself discussing politics on television.
After the interview, we went and found our seats in the theater. It started out like any film, and we were able to order drinks and food. We also found out that the 5$ we paid for each ticket was going to be given to us towards credit for our meal. I was glad to see the community taking the event so seriously and encouraging people to be active participants.
For the first time, the Alamo Drafthouse lifted their no talking or texting rule during the screening. As a frequent patron, I am used to their “talk or text, and we’ll throw your ass out” slogan, so this was a shock. They encouraged the audience to comment, utilize social media, and even cheer (or boo). I am proud to say that I was the first to lead the “booing” as Ted Cruz took the stage. We recognized pretty quickly that the room was prominently Beto supporters, but it was still interesting to hear the sneers, snickers, and gasps in unison.
The debate was entertaining and interesting, and not just because we were watching at Alamo Drafthouse and could enjoy eating queso and drinking beer while we viewed. Cruz was confident as the Republican incumbent for Texas. Of course, he talked about taxes, illegal immigrants in Texas, and the second amendment. Beto O’Rourke held his own against Cruz and discussed smart gun laws, DACA, and school safety. Both candidates did not miss the opportunity to make jabs towards one another. It was a great boxing match with both candidates giving and taking hard punches.
The entire audience walked out of the theater making comments to each other; no one was a stranger. I know there were several instances where I turned to the woman sitting next to me and gave my own commentary. She was there alone so she would turn to me to scoff at a comment made by Cruz, and we would laugh. In watching the Texas Senate debates in this format at the Alamo Drafthouse, it did give us a sense of community and unity. It brought this small area of south Austin together.
My husband and I decided to grab one more drink so that we could deliberate over the debate together. We checked out Twitter and laughed at the hashtags and commentary. We were on cloud nine, as though we had been there live and in person. We both believe Beto did tremendously well and found we disagreed with some of the negative feedback he received by some of the newspapers or that Beto spent most of the debate on the defense. In fact, we thought we watched Cruz spending the majority of the debate on the defense or avoiding the actual questions. My husband and I are usually on the same page, so it led to a great dialogue over our current political situation. It is such an important time for Democrats in Texas. We are excited to check out the next debate which happens to be this Sunday.
When we got home, I was super excited to see if my interview had made it on the 10:00 news. The Texas Senate debate was the first story of the newscast. There he was, the field reporter who had interviewed me, standing in front of the theater at the Alamo Drafthouse. I felt butterflies in my stomach, as I heard him say my name, Kasey Wenz, so I knew my big moment was about to come up. Then, there I was…the interview had made it to the news, but my heart sank, as it was about two seconds long and edited to only play the last few words, “I am excited to hear what they both have to say.”
That was it? In all of my efforts and what I believed to be an insightful commentary on the upcoming election, they made me sound like I was undecided and had no clue. My husband could sense my disappointment, or it may have been me yelling at the reporter on the television. He reminded me that this was, after all for Fox News, even a local affiliate. It was a great experience and a great night, and we ended up laughing it off. We never watch Fox News, local or national, because their viewers do tend to be the most uninformed or I guess I should say due to the “Fox News Effect.” Either way, it should have been no surprise by the editing or how it made me sound, oh well, it’s Fox News…” true to form.”
Check out my 2-seconds of fame(at 00:14) here, courtesy of KTBC.