It’s snowing, and it’s March 1st. Oh how I wish I was back in the Lone Star State right now. Soaking in the warmth and the hospitality. For those who live in the frozen north, the cold has created a permafrost in their souls.
But to travel south is to be alone. To be outnumbered. To continue my sports analogy from yesterday, have you ever played a sport when you are down one player? Like, 5 on 4 basketball? Or have you ever raced somebody on a motorcycle when all you had was a tricycle?
Well, if you have, welcome to the life of a Texas Democrat. Outnumbered, every time, no matter how hard you play the game. Sure we’ve had some great heroes (do the names Johnson or Rayburn ring a bell?), but they weren’t enough to make it an even playing field. The sheer number of conservative Texans consigns all of us liberals to second-place every time. The silver medal is great, but don’t we all have our eyes on the prize?
It’s hard for me to figure all this out. Why do poor Texans still vote for the Republican party? Why do they self-impose higher taxes for themselves and tax-cuts for the top one percent? Do the social issues, like abortion and stem-cell research, cause Texans to vote this way?
Of course these are all complex answers with even more complex answers. The history of racism and the shift of power from the old Dixiecrats to the pro-segregation Republicans is one reason. Xenophobia and the immigration issue is another. The centrality of the energy industry within our state is yet another reason. Conservative Christianity is definitely another reason.
But there is one thing we Texas Democrats must remember in the midst of our frustrations. These people are voting with their best intentions. Though we may not agree with them, labeling them as bigots or rednecks doesn’t help our cause. It adds fuel to the fire and only stirs up the right-wing voting bloc. Just as I despise the term “bleeding heart liberal,” I can’t imagine my conservative friends enjoy the ridicule they received during the end of the most recent Presidential administration.
While I don’t even pretend to have a solution, I think that there is a way we can think about this. As so many Texans are Christians, we have some common ground where we can begin the conservation of non-polarized politics. Let’s use the language of faith and scripture to understand one another and the positions we hold. Let’s recognize the tension within our Bible concerning issues of homosexuality and immigration (read Deuteronomy, it’ll blow your mind). If Christians point to their scriptures to enforce their argument against homosexual unions, then we must also consider the scriptural arguments for accepting the strangers and aliens into our midst.
What is more, Texas Democrats and Republicans will learn that we have much in common. We are grounded in faith and rooted in scripture. Democrats will learn that Republicans aren’t all unthinking Fox News drones. Republicans will learn that the brand of the Democratic Party in Texas isn’t the same as the brand of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts.
What is more, we have to look to our common Texas history for solutions. We must consider the tenacity of Sam Houston in the fight for independence, but also his reluctance to secede from the Union. We must remember that those who fought and died for our independence (which we celebrate tomorrow) were called “Texians.” We are not fully Anglo or fully Hispanic, we are a wonderful blend, “The Rainbow People of God.” Davy Crockett comes to Texas with the words “Y’all may go to hell, and I shall go to Texas.” But now our brothers and sisters in humanity are fleeing their personal hell for this great land of ours.
Come friends, both right and left, let’s pray together, read scripture together, worship together, live in harmony together. We will need courage and commitment from everybody to answer the questions that will define the 21st century.