There are quite a number of Democratic clubs in the Houston area. So what niche can Houston Area Kossacks fill? I am about to attend my second meeting. At the meeting in March I sat next to a woman with whom I had worked in a past campaign. Some other people also seemed to be plugged into the local Democratic Party.
Let's think over how we can have an influence in the Houston area.
In the Houston area we liberal/progressive Democrats have some assets. The Houston area Democratic Party has a county chair who is not afraid to call himself a liberal. That is Lane Lewis. The Harris County Democratic Party has its ongoing functions. I often attend the Brown Bag Lunches, whose guest speakers serve to educate, and most people there qualify well as progressives or liberals. This group, however, is only a minuscule fraction of the people in a city of some 2 million. btw I think the word 'progressive' sounds apologetic so I say 'liberal', even though most people on station KPFT prefer 'progressive.'
Harris County is marginally Democratic. It only marginally voted for President Obama both times. It marginally voted for Ted Cruz November 2012.
Now for problems: the Houston area has lots of people who are not very committed to participating in politics. My precinct convention was overflowing in 2008, but just a handful in 2010. Many people do not seem to recognize that national and state elections happen every 2 years, not just every 4 years. In Houston proper, elections happen every year. We do not have a parliamentary form of government: elections do not arise out of political crises du jour.
Why do I vote in every election? Why did the mountaineer want to climb Mount Everest? He said, "Because it is there." A friend of mine says I make a religion of politics. Make it a creed to vote in every election. I am always mobilized for an election.
When is your next election? I had no election Saturday, May 10. All of us in Texas, except for those who voted in the GOP March primary, have the Democratic runoff May 27. Early voting runs May 19 through 23.
A main issue in this Democratic runoff is a negative one. Yes, politics has negative issues galore. Kesha Rogers is a LaRouche disciple and we do not need to have her as Democratic nominee in November. You may recall that the LaRouche movement got initiatives (1986 and 1988) on the California ballot to quarantine HIV-positive people. Even in later years one slogan of theirs has been "Spread panic, not AIDS."
For most Texas Democrats there is just one other race. I am voting for Kinky Friedman for Agricultural Commissioner because he wants to repeal prohibition, and I do not mean alcohol. What about the highest rate of incarceration of any country in the world?
Very often, leaders of groups that make up the Democratic coalition threaten that their people will not be motivated to vote in a coming election. This is a way to manipulate elected Democrats, including Presidents. This tactic may often work, but I am afraid it has done much damage to the Democratic party. I do believe we need more commitment to voting. When we are dissatisfied with some Democrat we need more activism. I often hear disappointment with Democratic Presidents. No, I would start with lower offices. Do you look at the voting records of your legislators? Start first with telling officeholders want you want. If they tell you of problems with what you want, do listen and consider how valid their points may be. Down the line you can consider contested Democratic primaries. The Houston area, however, does not have many contested primaries. Many Houstonians do not give good people much incentive to run. Incidentally, the filing deadline was this past December and 2015 will be our next chance to recruit any candidates. So think carefully about the 2016 primary season.
But thank goodness no House Democrat from Texas voted to create the Benghazi committee.
So what shall we, Houston Area Kossacks, be doing? Maybe we could co-ordinate groups, build up ties with other groups. Also we can recruit people and ask their ongoing participation. Lately I have gotten to know a waiter at a restaurant where I regularly eat. I have invited him to Oak Forest Area Democrats. He has had problems getting a baby sitter. Yes, we need to consider carefully what problems people may have in participating and recommend ways they reasonably can participate.
How did I get into conversation with my waiter? I was wearing an orange T-shirt: pro-choice, you know.
We must be on guard against just getting persons fired up and then having them be disappointed and drop out. Generally, to get anything done in politics, it takes long-term commitment. For example, in 1972 I got started on repealing a law against gay sex. In 1993 I saw success in the Texas Senate but loss in the House. In 2003 section 21.06 was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. This law is still on the books in Texas, and now it is an issue of attitude on the part of legislators. Get it off the books! Davy Crockett said, "If you don't succeed the first time, try again."