Saturday, February 18, 2006

Welcome To A New Era

Candidates in do-it-yourself campaigns who are not independently wealthily go to work, then go to work again; to meetings, rallies, speaking engagements and other handshaking opportunities. Politics is, after all, about people. So last night after a 12 hour workday, I went to another meeting. It was a refreshing Democratic event - a meeting and hosted by the New Era Democrats. The usual Bexar County party rhetoric was disallowed. Candidates from all over talked a few minutes about their campaigns and strategies from one common theme - "United we can win". Chris Bell drove up from the valley en route to his home in Houston, and David Van Os drove in from the Hill Country to speak. They, and the “Three Larrys” - Noll, Ricketts and Stallings, all spoke of unity, peace pipes and hatchet burying. Just in case of disorder, the New Era team had Judges Karen Crouch and Phil Meyer to ensure order. The New Era Dems’ agenda is pure and simple; moving forward free of history, past political battles and cronyism. Their charter is based solely on Democratic principles. David Van Os spoke eloquently of veteran politicians such as himself, John Courage, Larry Noll and Chris Bell staying in the fight the last couple of election cycles, in spite of defeats at the polls, in the Lege, and in spite of Texas’ illegal re-districting plan. David thanked new candidates such as yours truly, who stepped up to the plate in faith, after understanding Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy.

So what will Larry and Diane do now? We have completed two applications to become Charter Members of the New Era Democrats and put the check in the mail.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Will Somebody Please Just Do A Cookbook?

In the heady days after Larry decided to run for HD 122, we were giving little thought to a campaign strategy. We were trying to set up this blogsite, get a website up, inform family and friends of our foolish decision, and generally get used to the idea. Well, we found out in politics, there is no time to get used to the idea. You've got to register with the Texas Ethics Commission, for one thing. This was a line thrown out, almost as an aside, by Zada True-Courage shortly after she signed Larry on the dotted line (Larry's word is his bond). It was followed by the phrase, " you can start taking money". My experience political up to that moment had been as the giver, not the givee, so that caught me up a bit short. I thought that since this was Texas, registering with the Texas Ethics Commission should be, well, not onerous. It hasn't been for me, just for Treasurer Terry. Texas or not, there are folks up in Austin who actually want to see where the campaign gets and spends its money.

Registering doesn't bring dollars to your door, though. Enough said.

After a while, you figure out that you are supposed to actually do stuff to try to get elected, at least of you are not Frank Corte. (Hell, even W has to actually get off his bike, put on a tie, and wave at folks. He even has to read a teleprompTer now and then.) But what stuff to do?

I was fortunate enough to attend a DFT training late last year that helped clarify the roles of tactics, message, and organization somewhat. For dessert, we got to listen to Glenn Maxey's war stories late into the night, and that even helped me understand how to begin thinking about a real campaign. But how does a baby candidate figure out how to actually do the nuts and bolts of running for office, and cannot afford to hire Glenn Maxie or even one of the bright young things graduating Trinity with their idealism intact, student loans that intrude on their young lives with the speed of light, and a laptop?

I was relieved today to learn that even smart people who write books about politics found that they did not know the answer. They set out to figure this stuff out all over again, and share it with baby candidates like us. Of course, they do it for candidates in the state of Massachusetts, not Texas.

Now is the time for some of those bright Trinity kids to actually write a cookbook on how to get elected in Texas - yes, a cookbook, a "take an egg and break it, putting the contents in a bowl and throwing away the hard white shell" kind of cookbook. A cookbook with descriptions of offices, requirements for running for them, how many petitions signatures are needed to get on the ballot without paying a filing fee, demographic information, filing requirements, how to decide on a strategy for winning and how to make tactical decisions, the qualities of a good campaign staff, how long it takes to leaflet x number of houses - just really simple stuff like that.

In the meantime, Candidate Larry keeps plugging along every day, going to work by day to pay our mortgage, and then going to work for the folks of HD 122 by night. And that is why we are trying to run a credible campaign - to make Texas a better place for everybody, starting with HD 122.

But right now? Well, the campaign, in the form of yours truly, is going to empty the campaign coffers to pay for - are you ready for this? - our pushcards, that are finally ready to be picked up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Amoral Majority

This is the inaugural post of the candidate's 17-year-old son, who was given free reign, short of profanity or pornography, to post at will. Enter with caution:

The press took the liberty of informing us that we lost the ‘04 races on values. Of course, we Democrats realize that the "moral high-ground" really is ours, yet how do we define it? Sure we oppose war, torture, and gender/sexuality discriminations (to name just a few of the Administration’s moral transgressions), but the fundamental difference between Liberals and Conservatives in this country has always been the level of community responsibility we deem necessary.

Republicans (and many moderates) often argue from the "individual responsibility" viewpoint, apparently out to subjugate the "welfare state." Yet, does God not command us to aid those less fortunate? Seriously, what would Jesus do? And for those lovers of hard-core Old Testament harshness, the 15th Chapter of the book of Deuteronomy clearly explains how we should approach "personal responsibility:

15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
15:8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
15:10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

For more brevity, one can look to Proverbs. To those of the Christian Right who believe the bible to be inerrant fact- swallow this:

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse. -Proverbs 28:27

I may be wrong, but it seems as though we have a pretty clear command from God to be responsible for our community. How can a nation with over 12.7% of all its people living in poverty (over 17.8 of its children, totaling more than 37,294,418 people), be entitled to suggest, let alone impose, its clearly imperfect system upon others?

Not only has God provided reason to prioritize aiding the poorer in the country, economic trials have proven the benefits as well. We have seen the clear failure of the so-called "trickle-down" system of economics time and time again. The last two presidents who tried to implement this method, Reagan (although in his time it was called "supply-side" economics) and Bush Sr., both abandonned it. During their terms as presidents, Reagan and Bush Sr. tried to keep taxes low and cut government services, hoping to boost corporate expansion for the economic benefit of the country. In the end, however, both raised taxes, abandonning their initail goals in favor of cutting the deficit and in turn the national debt.

So, we have already seen by trial and error in this country that providing government serivces to aid those in poverty will boost the economy by encouraging the purchase of goods and services in all markets (including medical, housing, and automobiles, to name some of the largest). In addition, we are encouraged by the teaching of our predominant religion(Christianity) via the very word of God, to do the same. Unfortunately, neither economic sense or moral obligation seem to have pursuaded Republicans to actually do anything to promote the common good. Maybe they really are just plain selfish?