Monday, August 21, 2017

Serious Candidate


-by John Wiesen,
Master Sergeant (ret), U.S. Air Force
co-chair, Texas Indivisible 20

Some claim the weak and hollow Texas Democratic party has put forward no serious candidate for governor and is therefore irrelevant. It is true that no establishment Democrat apparently has the will to step up and challenge the deep pockets and shrill right-wing constituency of the current governor. Perhaps the Democratic establishment will produce some candidate palatable to their big donors and sporting a moderate label. But that is not a candidate the people want, and that is not a candidate who can win. The people want a person with conviction, a person that will make a progressive populist case as a governor, who will enforce labor laws, help workers get a living wage, and who will not be bought off by developers, pharmaceutical companies and fossil fuel interests. There IS a serious Democratic candidate, a candidate who has the courage of his convictions, who is not beholden to the donor class, and who is a full throated progressive populist. His name is Tom Wakely.

Over one month after Tom announced his run for governor, the Texas Democratic Party still seems unaware of or uninterested in this fact. Even though Tom has the support of progressives and activists across Texas, the state party is offering no support or even acknowledgement of the only candidate that is actively campaigning to replace Greg Abbott as governor. With November’s disasterous election we haven’t a moment to lose in fighting to reclaim our democracy through the ballot box. We can’t wait for the Democratic Party to ride to the rescue bearing the worn-out ideas of an establishment unable to see that it is long past time for a new strategy. Have they learned nothing from the catastrophe of having lost multiple statehouse seats and winning no statewide office in over 20 years? Are they committed to endlessly repeating its same old ways of trying to win few Republicans over with weak, small bore policy prescriptions that really help no one? If the well-known Democrats are too afraid to run out of fear for their own political skins, even now when it is most needed, what good are they? The Texas Democratic Party may have given up on the governorship, but Tom hasn’t. Governor Abbott has enabled and abetted an extreme right-wing takeover of our government, and Tom is stepping in with a clear, strong, progressive alternative to Abbott’s authoritarian rule.

Many in the current Democratic party leadership are apparently fearful of, and hostile to candidates who work for the empowerment of a new constituency outside of the old guard. They would rather maintain their current power base, please their big donors and power brokers and keep things as they are. They smear those asking for accountability in candidates and elected officials, calling them "purists," as if demanding that a candidate work for the common people’s rights, freedoms and equality is somehow wrong. They are timid, suspicious of the raw power of the progressive renewal embraced by Bernie Sanders, a movement which is gaining strength day by day. Activists are speaking out, visible rallying in the streets, in congressional offices, and in cities and neighborhoods around Texas and across the nation. They are demanding that the government speak to the people, listen to the people, and threat them fairly. They demand that we think big to solve big problems, and stretch the realm of what we believe is possible. They know that Texas is not a really a red state but is a non-voting state, and the energy coming from newly formed progressive groups is hard at work registering thousands of new voters and challenging long held beliefs about what works.

Goal ThermometerTom has spent the last month crisscrossing the Texas, meeting with labor leaders, activists and progressive groups. Tom is speaking to the growing Hispanic population in Texas, and to the young people of our state. These are the very people that will have to be energized and engaged if our government is to be taken back to a path toward full democracy by and for the people. Tom’s campaign is growing from the bottom up, a coalition built with grassroots support and small donations. He is listening to and championing the cause of the common person. Tom is going to neglected places, talking to those Texans under economic siege, and is forming a populist force to be reckoned with. The power is now shifting from moneyed donors to a new breed of activists who are energized, willing to sacrifice to save our democracy, to knock on doors, and to fight for the progressive cause and convince voters they too can make a difference. Progressives are organizing for one purpose, to bring power back to the people. Tom understands and is a part of this movement. His message is that freedom, fairness and prosperity for all are values worth fighting for. Nothing less will do than empowering voters, engaging them and giving them a say and a stake in their own government. These are the people who will transform our state, and with their help, elect Tom Wakely as the next governor of Texas.

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