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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/1/18

O'Rourke's Senate Campaign--Bernie has changed Texas Politics--Small Newspapers Will Have Huge Effect on Senate Race

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Video clip from El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke's Town Hall Meeting in Odessa, West Texas, especially strong on helping the Dreamers and DACA so we don't lose them to other nations!

Introduction from Stephen Fox: After reading a superb article in the Houston Chronicle by Jeremy Wallace, a reporter in the Austin Bureau, about this changing tide in Texas politics, I realized what a bellwether state this could be, not only for Bernie Sanders in 2020, but long before, with Congressman Beto O'Rourke's strong challenge to Senator Ted Cruz.

We will explore these matters for as long and for as many words as it takes to do justice to this vast topic of what can only be termed the journalism describing a "sea change," partly because change and solutions are inevitable, but also partly in response to the actions of Donald Trump and how they resonate in a state like Texas or Alabama. I will directly excerpt some of these articles so the reader can get a much clearer picture, although I must intersperse my own observations and my own "gonzo" journalism here and there...

From Jeremy Wallace's article:

"To some, Bernie Sanders is the answer. To others, he could be the problem. As Texas Democrats prepare for 2018, Democratic hopefuls for all offices face a balancing act. Embracing Sanders supporters can tap a much-needed energy that 18 months ago turned a little-known self-proclaimed Democratic socialist from Vermont into a legitimate contender for the White House. But embrace the Sanders movement too much, and a candidate can quickly get labeled a socialist by Republican rivals in a general election - an albatross in parts of a red state like Texas.

While Sanders conceded the Democratic nomination for president in the summer of 2016, the followers he cultivated haven't gone home and have vowed to remain engaged in politics and reshape the Democratic Party and its platforms. "This wasn't a one-shot deal," said Chris Kutalik-Couthren, a Sanders supporter who is now a statewide coordinator for Our Revolution Texas, a coalition of former Sanders supporters. "Many of us wanted to keep going." They have since created nearly 500 chapters throughout the nation with a proclamation: Campaigns end. Revolutions endure. Could Texas turn blue in 2018? Stranger things have happened Filing is over, now hard part begins - raising money and wooing."

Bernie's organized efforts have pushed candidates and energized voters in city council races in San Antonio and in school board races in Houston.

One of Sanders' most prominent supporters is Jim Hightower, former Texas agriculture commissioner, and he believes that the Bernie Sanders movement manifests the kind of economic populism that was the way Texas Democrats resonated with working men and women. Access to health care, free (or affordable) college education and a strong contempt for all forms of corporate greed are part and parcel of Sanders' ascendancy, which could be politically profitable for Democrats in Texas to retake that state, by reaching out to workers and farmers. In short: "We can turn people out."

Hightower believes Beto is becoming appreciated by Bernie Sanders' Our Revolution folks. Perhaps as a symbol and manifestation of Bernie's being the 2020 Democratic frontrunner already is the fact that Senator Cruz has already had 3 debates in 2017 on CNN, making bravado-like statements like how he appreciates that Bernie is honest about being a socialist, clearly playing to the folks back in Texas and all over the South for whom "socialist" is a label that used to be a razor across the throat of any political opponent.

(Smart move, Ted: after all, you went to Princeton, and graduated from Harvard Law School, Magna Cum Laude, and perhaps there in those elegant ivory towers in the Ivy League, you learned to jam and jimmy an opponent by apparently heaping solipsistic praise upon him, but doing this with a just a single word like "socialist." However, even in Texas, with his sterling examples, his leading by example with such admirable remarkable consistency, Bernie has made "socialist" and "independent" not such bad words, after all...)

"It's really not a word that scares people anymore," Hightower said, with voters looking for candidates with credible populist campaigning. Hightower's "getting people out" was successful in a city council race in a conservative district in San Antonio with John Courage winning, and in Houston recently, Our Revolution's candidate Elizabeth Santos won the runoff for the School Board. However, Dallas saw different results in the school board race, because Republican operatives painted Lori Kirkpatrick as a liberal and sent out mailers scaring voters with the prospect of her bringing "Bernie Sanders-style liberalism to Dallas Schools."

There is no doubt that Sanders campaign efforts have influenced Texas Democratic politics, stated Lillie Schechter, Harris County (Houston) Democratic Party Chairman. "It has brought a lot of young people into the party, and it's also opened a dialogue on a lot of issues. We're building a movement, a grassroots movement. The momentum is just growing as we get closer to the 2018 cycle."


After putting to rest Roy Moore in Alabama, Texas is the political race that interests me the most as both a political and intellectual challenge, like a chess game from afar, is El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke's challenge of Cruz.

I have had to learn to see past the fact that Beto was an obligatory and enthusiastic Clinton super-delegate, but so were many prominent Senators and former Senators, like one of my own favorites, former New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman. Anyway, Beto's campaign points these days sound more like what Bernie has been saying for 40 years, like affordable higher education and health care for all, with strong opposition to foreign trade deals that end up that harm the American work force. He has declined taking PAC money and makes loud noises against accepting money from big donors, much the same as Bernie both in speeches and in practice with his $27 donation requests.


Also in the Houston Post, Kevin Diaz's article on December 29, 2017 (Diaz is the Houston Chronicle's Washington Correspondent)

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Early in the 2016 Primary campaign, I started a Facebook group: Bernie Sanders: Advice and Strategies to Help Him Win! As the primary season advanced, we shifted the focus to advancing Bernie's legislation in the Senate, particularly the (more...)

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