What a wonderful sight it was to behold all the women (and men) dressed in blue standing on the capitol steps ready to lobby our legislators for issues that are important to women and Texas families: fair pay for women, education, healthcare for low income women, immigration reform and a safe, gun free environment on college campuses. Some legislators may not like it, but we forced them to acknowledge that we are here and we are not going away. These issues are too important.
A special thank you to our Democratic legislators that stood with us in support on the house floor and in their offices. It is gratifying to know that we are all working on the same team for a better Texas.
After I got home, I was able to process all the work and excitement of the day and something occurred to me. As great as Blue Ribbon Lobby Day was, why do we have to beg for control of our own bodies? Why do we have to plead with legislators who are more concerned with passing hateful, discriminatory legislation, in order to get education funding and safe campuses?I realized that there is only one way we are going to get these things and make Texas a more progressive state instead of a national joke; we have to have Democratic legislators. WE have to be the ones with the power. Not in a few years, not when the “demographics change,” right now.
Frankly, this has been the most depressing legislative session I have witnessed. They have no intention of listening to the Democrats, especially in the Senate.
Now I know some of you are thinking, Laura, you are crazy, all my neighbors are republicans. Au contraire. I doubt there is one county that doesn’t have at least few democrats; they may be hiding, but they are there. We have to run to win, because if we don’t run, we lose for sure.
I will give you an example of how your local chapter can help change Texas. In the recent city elections in Killeen, we asked (begged, really) one of our members to run for city council. She is a long time resident, well known in her precinct and active in her church. Did she have citywide name recognition? Nope. What she did have was a contingent of women and men behind her that supported her run with money, block walking, phone calling and time. The members of Bell County TDW donated money to her campaign, they walked and called and supported her. That is the key, support, something women are especially good at doing for other women. Election time rolled around and she got out her voters and won. Shirley Fleming had knocked off an incumbent and good old boy. The secret to her success? She got more of her voters to the polls than her opponent. That’s it, plain and simple. Whoever gets more voters to the polls wins.
Why this story? Because I think sometimes we forget that it is possible to win. The people on your city council, school board or county commission weren’t born with the knowledge of how to be a board member. If we want to take back Texas from the extreme right, we have to step up and run. TDW is full of leaders. We train at the local level and then step up and run for the legislature. That is when we truly win. That is the day we no longer need to hold Blue Ribbon Lobby days, because Democrats who share our beliefs will already be in power. However, it is up to us. TDW chapters can lead the way by recruiting, running, and electing members, and by supporting those who choose to run. The time for change is now, so I am throwing down the gauntlet. Let’s flip this state from the local level up. It starts with you.
Building the Pathway to a Blue Texas,
President, Texas Democratic Women