I’m a native and resident Texan and I’m addressing this primarily to the upcoming voters in the state of Iowa. I hope my opinions can be of some value in Iowa (and elsewhere), if only to provide a possibly new perspective seldom communicated by our elected officials in this painfully red state. In short, I’m fed up and I hope as many caucus-goers in Iowa have a chance to read this as possible.
When Hillary Clinton was running for President the first time around, I was a young twenty-something volunteering in the kitchen at her HQ in Austin largely as an observer, but also because I felt it was time for a female president and I hadn’t heard Barack Obama speak yet (if we’re being completely honest). One night, I took off my apron and slipped in line with many wealthy donors in a back room after Bill spoke to a large group of volunteers and I had a chance to meet him even though I had donated exactly zero dollars to Hillary’s campaign. Everyone in front of me got a happy handshake and a boiler-plate exchange, but he and I spoke for about 12 minutes with many wealthy people tapping their toes uncomfortably behind us. We mostly discussed the dramatic weakness of the US dollar in the world at the time and I got his opinions on why it was valued the way it was. He even asked me my opinion on some of the ideas we discussed. All the answers he gave me were educated, genuine, and terrific, as so many others have recalled after speaking with him. But my final question to Bill, to my exact surprise, was met with immediate and an almost sarcastic dismissal. I simply asked, “Why don’t the American people know any of this?” I asked this question because I had already made significant efforts to educate myself on these topics and was entirely unsuccessful up until that conversation. His reply was, “You don’t talk about financial policy in campaigns.”
In this country right now, as many of us in Texas understand it, we can either promise education to all our youth and promise healthcare to all our brothers and sisters around us, OR:
1. We can allow the violently disastrous Criminal Justice system & Drug War to continue ruining the lives of our youth and regularly throw impoverished communities into violence.
2. We can allow excessively corporatized educational institutions to continue to needlessly intimidate and stagnate the underprivileged and even *everyday* dreamers.
3. We can allow the continued donation of all our hard-earned jobs and American factories overseas.
4. We can continue to allow our voting power and voices to be *completely* eradicated by billions of corporate dollars in politics every election and every day on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country.
5. We can continue to let drug and insurance companies patently own the rights to our health and, so often, the overall quality of our lives.
Coming from a place like Texas, where focus on improving public education has forever been political kryptonite, educated and non-wealthy folks here know better than most that we have a lot to take care of here at home before anyone even BEGINS discussing foreign policy (especially a Gov-from-Texas-turned-President and I’m genuinely sorry about that collection of vile humans and all those they influenced). In my opinion, previous and uneducated decisions to go to war are characteristics of both a broken political system and a broken media industry which does not hold officials accountable to the greater public. When Bill Clinton deregulated the biggest media companies in 1996, it was a death-blow to political and social justice. The internet is only now just barely supplementing this dramatic hole in communal awareness, but the same huge forces which were deregulated in 1996 are fighting every day and night against the internet’s superior ability to educate, inform, and mobilize for change.
Even the least investigative people around me will only reluctantly accept the shrouded references to “actionable intelligence” floating around used to justify the most recent invasion of Iraq. The bottom of the barrel are happy to admit they just wanted to go to war with someone [read:anyone] because of 9/11 and then they proceed to throw racial slurs at both the leaders and citizens of various Middle Eastern countries. We all recently learned the FBI failed decades of hair-based identity tests and put countless potentially innocent lives directly into the metaphorical dumpster. We are also all painfully aware that the TSA is a demonstrable and monumental failure. Our police are over-funded and poorly trained liabilities and more and more people around me in even *this* red state now hold very similar views. Domestic law enforcement needs to change in almost every way imaginable. And equally as much, international law enforcement in the intelligence communities needs to change, starting with no longer overthrowing foreign dictators using our young heroes who volunteer with integrity and love and retire with medical bills, distrust, and disability if they are lucky enough to return at all. I’ve also read that heavy-hitting, private lobbyists have more persuasion power in the military than sitting generals when it comes to matters of troop presence and deployment. And after seeing the ruinous decisions of the George W. administration and the remnants of these foreign approaches still reverberating through our current administration, I reluctantly believe that, as well.
The rest of the civilized world around us has a measurably better quality of life because education and health are generally considered to be mandatory among citizens in these highly functional and highly efficient societies. Arguably, we have been neither for several decades after considering the extreme devaluation of the American middle class and the criminal and endemic instability of our greater financial system. Further, our military is fucking ENORMOUS and I genuinely believe the next elected President, regardless the individual, will be able to find and use suitable military resources should they be needed during and ONLY during times of real, American emergency at home. We have a tangible opportunity to change THIS particular country for the majority of our population for a change and it starts by understanding that the American economy’s most sacred responsibility is to the greater, non-wealthy population. I can no longer entertain the idea that the few owners of the biggest media companies have any intention to prioritize this conversation in front of the Superbowl, American Idol, or any other absolute bullshit that keeps our population in a disadvantaged, endangered, and distracted state. What’s worse is that the man who was supposed to change it all ended up playing partisan politics and failed to achieve anything even remotely resembling what was expected.
This Texan here decided to vote for Bernie Sanders in early 2015 and I haven’t had a single second thought about it. I continue to find that whether or not people around me think dramatic change is possible, they always agree that it’s required (if only to restore our trust in our political system). The entire state of Texas, and much of the South, needs radical change right now. In Texas, we don’t need someone who simply voices support for progressive ideas without publicly committing to the financial fundamentals behind those statements. We need someone who is not only vocal about bringing radical change to politics, but someone who has a huge grassroots group of dedicated volunteers who will continue to pressure regional and local legislators towards social and political reform. Bernie may represent the state of Vermont, but his dedication to humanitarian ideals in rural communities suggest he’s every bit as Texan as anyone else in this great state.
Written by a Guest from Texas