Last evening, state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, shared a photo on her Facebook account of her holding an oversized fountain drink from Whataburger. "There's no place like home... the home of Whataburger, that is," she said, standing in Corpus Christi, where Whataburger opened its first location in 1950.
Despite the obvious problems with using corporate branding in a campaign (Whataburger proudly serves both Democrats and Republicans, and thus opted out of endorsing in the gubernatorial election), Davis caught a great deal of flak for sharing the image, namely from her own party. Many expressed concern that debate on the real topics facing Texas is being defenestrated in favor of meaningless fodder.
First things first: I think one picture of the state senator holding a cup from a restaurant that holds a very special place in my heart is a somewhat venial offense. But even if it was some type of bold shift in tone from the campaign, heading away from substance and toward personal connections, would that necessarily be a bad thing?
As a confessed political nerd, few things would make me happier in the leadup to an election than turning on my television and listening to the respective candidates' platforms being meticulously delineated and defended on air. But the world just doesn't work that way. Most people have much better things to do with their lives than care about the game of thrones, so to speak, in such excruciating detail. They want to know how a candidate is human, what he or she does for fun, and about the candidate's family. Davis' inclination toward Whataburger — whether staged or sincere — is an invaluable way of establishing a connection with the average Texan.
It struck a chord with me, and I know it did with many of my usually atypical friends. Ideally, it did for countless others as well.
Horwitz is an associate editor.