Sunday, June 14, 2015

Texas Democrats - the party for sane Texans

Not too long ago the Republican governor of Texas added his gubernatorial credibility to the paranoid fantasies of extremists that the federal government was going to invade Texas under the guise of a military exercise. He seriously ordered the Texas State Guard to keep on eye on the U. S. Armed Forces to "protect Texans' rights and property," which brought up this mental image: 

This was just about the last straw in a huge bale of crazy for me. I created a new Facebook avatar and a bumper sticker:

I just wanted to remind the world that there ARE some sane Texans. I think there are LOT of sane Texans. In fact, I think there are more sane Texans than there are insane Texans. A lot of those sane Texans are Democrats, but believe it or not, there are sane Republicans as well. And certainly Independents. And all Libertarians think they are sane, right?

So when I was invited to speak to the Northeast Tarrant County Democrats on Flag Day, June 14, I decided to share my idea with them:

Let’s reboot the Texas Democratic Party as the party of sane Texans.

And here are my admittedly rough draft thoughts of what the Sane Democratic Party will do:

  • We will advocate for automatic voter registration upon a Texan's 18th birthday. 
  • We will work to make voting as convenient as texting – although we won’t let you do it while you are driving. 
  • We will support the police by holding rogue officers accountable, because one bad officer can undermine public confidence in police much faster than 50 good officers can build it up. 
  • We will work to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline by working with school districts to keep police out of school disciplinary matters. 
  • We will opt out as much as possible of the incredibly wasteful expensive and useless War on Drugs, and instead put resources into education and regulation, much as we do with alcohol now. 
  • We will acknowledge that most Texans are people of faith. We won’t patronize or condescend to them. We will honor the First Amendment by keeping the state out of religion and religion out of legislative matters. 
  • We will proclaim that freedom of religion means the freedom to practice your faith and live out your beliefs. It does not mean the right to impose your religious beliefs on everyone else through the force of law. 
  • We will respect rural Texans, listen to them, and engage them in policy decisions while at the same time working with urban areas to meet their needs. 
  • We will acknowledge most Texans grew up around guns. We will talk sensibly about this but we won’t pander. The Second Amendment should be respected, not fetishized. Guns should be regulated as least as much as cars are – people have to pass a test to be licensed. Guns, like cars, aren’t appropriate in all places. More guns make us less safe, not more.
  • We will work for a good well-funded public school system. An educated work force is an economic issue.  Public schools are not playgrounds for religious ideology; they are secular incubators of the future.
  • We will assert that access to health care for everyone is an economic driver. Sick people can't work. We will partner with the federal government to give every Texan the health care they need. 
  • We will protect and conserve the state’s water. Water is perhaps THE economic issue. Without it, there’s nothing. 
  • We will reframe the abortion debate to talk about the right of women to bodily autonomy. The state has no business intruding into a medical examining room and certainly not into a woman's body with invasive ultrasounds. No male would stand for the state dictating his medical decisions. Women shouldn’t stand for it either.
  • We will assert that safe contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies and reduces abortions. Providing robust sex education and safe affordable contraception is the best way to reduce abortions.
  • We will assert that job safety matters. Workers dying on the job is not only immoral, but it costs money to train a replacement 
  • We will assert that investment in infrastructure is an economic driver, not a tax burden. If businesses can’t get raw materials in a timely way because roads and bridges are falling apart, our economy suffers. If businesses can’t distribute their goods to markets because the railway system is in disrepair, the economy suffers.
  • We will acknowledge that immigrants fuel much of the economy in this state and work with the Federal government to find ways to enable undocumented workers to become legal tax-paying citizens.
  • We will stop acting as if the Federal Government is the enemy and start acting like a constituent member of the United States.
  • We will acknowledge that the 25 military installations in Texas are an enormous economic boon and stop acting as if the U.S. is going to invade us, steal our guns, and put us into internment camps in Wal Marts while also taking about what big patriots we are and how much we support the troops.
  • We will acknowledge that wealthy people are not the enemy. We won't pander to them, but we won’t dismiss them either. 
  • We will fund safe state-licensed child care for working parents as part of a family-friendly public policy. Because if a state is family-friendly, it’s business-friendly. 
  • We will expect all Texan companies who are making money in Texas to pay their fair share of taxes to fund the education system, health care system, clean water systems, highway system, and other infrastructure from which they benefit every day. 
  • We will recruit people to run for office at all levels. We can't vote for Democrats if no Democrats are running. 
  • We will talk about what we have to offer, not how the Republicans are screwing up.
  • We will stop being stupid about the reality that we only have one planet.  If we don't care for the environment, if we don't stop poisoning our land and air and water, it won't matter how "business-friendly" we are.
  • We will refuse to be afraid. When did Texans become so fearful? When did Americans become so fearful? We are not a bunch of cowering ninnies, so why are we allowing the Republican fear-mongering to affect us? 
  • We will care about post-fetal children. 
And we will not stop until every child in Texas is wanted, is food-secure, has access to safe water, health care and a good education, and understands that no matter his or her color, age, gender identification, religion, or class, she or he is an invaluable part of a great state in a great nation.