There is an excitement in the air that has been missing from Texas Democratic politics for some time. It is more than just that state Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster in the summer of 2013 brought one of the largest rallies and one of the largest protest marches to the Capitol in Austin, Texas. It is more than the fact that Texas has a strong slate of statewide candidates ready to serve. It is more than that the Democratic Party of this Southern state is running a very diverse slate of candidates—including a woman, a Latina, and many other diverse candidates at the top of the ticket and throughout the slates.
It is that Texans are starting to wake up from their nightmare. It is that Texans are starting to believe that their votes matter. It is that Texans are starting to revisit their real values and not those imposed on them by the new Pharisees.
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Many voting Texans are very attached to their religion. Religion has been used as a ball and chain around many Texans for decades. In fact, many men and women leaders of the cloth have been complicit in enabling Texans to vote against their own interests. Many voters have done so when they have put perceived value judgments over their own economic and health interests. They did not realize that these interests were never really in conflict.
Charlotte Coyle, an ordained minister and local pastor, puts this all into perspective. Coyle is attending the Texas Democratic Convention. As she sat down in the Omni Hotel waiting for her husband, she had a little chat with a few Democratic activists and politicians—and she wasn't shy about talking about her views and her values.
Make no mistake, Coyle is a devout Christian. She makes no apologies for her faith. She wears it on her sleeve without any signs of overbearing. In other words, she is no Pharisee, new or old. She believes that it's her duty going forward to promote the values she believes in, values that promote middle-class centric policies through the political process.
Coyle began registering voters in her county in Texas, a county that while very Republican is ready for substantive Democratic activation. She believes that the Democratic Party best represents the Christian values she lives by, and it's in that vein that she has been working for the Democratic Party to effect the change necessary in her area.
She does not run away from the difficult issues; she knows her faith addresses them. On homosexuality, she reminds everyone that Jesus did not put parameters on acceptance. "When Jesus said you are to welcome one another and to accept one another and to include one another," she says, "he never talked about gender issues or sexual orientation."
Coyle reminds everyone that the vast majority of women do not choose abortion lightly: "I don’t know anyone who really likes abortion," she explains. "It is a struggle for a woman to have to make that decision. … The Christian value would support her in her struggle to make a decision that is best for her and for her family."
One of the most prescient statements made by Coyle should be heeded by every man and woman of the cloth: "Pulling a few verses from the Old Testament or a few verses from the Apostle Paul and creating an entire theological position on that, damages the work of Jesus Christ," she explains. "I feel very passionate about that and I want to be a Christian who is not like those other Christians."
Coyle and those that share her honest values, a religion and true concern for humanity and middle-class America make up a bridge that many in the Democratic Party must use to reach the quasi-mythical value voter. She is one of the missing links that must be inserted into that chain that can be used to rip the imprisoning fetters from many Americans.