Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Where to from here?

There are some larger questions at stake but let's start with this, yesterday at the Capitol.

During a debate over the repeal of the so-called Texas DREAM Act, Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) said in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities acts as a magnet for undocumented immigrants.

“[The Texas DREAM Act] is bad policy that rewards illegal immigration in perpetuity,” Campbell said as she laid out Senate Bill 1819, which would shut down the program.

Several experts who testified against the bill, including Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes, disagreed.

“We have absolutely no evidence that in-state tuition acts a magnet for undocumented immigrants,” Paredes said.

The act, passed in 2001, allows undocumented students who graduate from Texas high schools and who have been in the state at least three years to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) said that Campbell’s bill unfairly punishes hard-working students who were brought to Texas as children and will have negative economic consequences for the state.

“Our economic future depends on educating these young people,” Rodriguez said while observing the hearing from the dais.


“There is not one single shred of evidence that suggests that DREAMers are a threat to the border or to Texas,” Rodriguez said. “I think this sends an inaccurate message about these students.”

Dozens of those students, many wearing graduation caps and gowns, waited hours to testify against Campbell’s bill.

Blanca Leyva, a sophomore at Texas A&M University, testified that she has been in the country for more than 14 years and graduated from her Dallas high school as valedictorian. She said she wouldn’t be able to attend college if not for the DREAM Act.

“As DREAMers we simply want to be successful. We want a better life. I want a better life,” Leyva said.

Elections do have consequences.  When people who want better public schools (so that ignorant people like Donna Campbell aren't elected) don't vote, this is one of them.

If DREAMers lose their affordable tuition, would they mobilize, organize, turn out their families to cast a ballot?  In every election, not just in the presidential ones?  I don't think it's appropriate to make excuses on their behalf when they don't.  But this is a small point in a larger one: what more, better, or different should Democrats do to get people who are suffering (or are going to suffer) to vote for them?  And not just the people who very recently voted for them, but don't any more?

My recent experience -- in my precinct, face to face, door to door -- tells me people who were once engaged simply aren't any longer.  They have 'consciously uncoupled' (thanks, Gwyneth).  When a middle-aged white woman with a Democratic primary voting history tells you she doesn't see the point in voting, and you ask why, and she shakes her head and closes the door...

How hard should someone try to change the mind of a person who thinks like that?  How much should somebody like Steve Mostyn spend in order to get people of that mindset to vote?

How bad does it have to get before some folks decide, "this is as bad as we can stand"?

At some (low) point-- irrespective of skin pigmentation or the lack thereof, mind you -- people are going to have to figure out the importance of voting on their own time, and on their own dime.  I get the feeling that another low point is going to come on the evening of the first Tuesday in November, 2016.  Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton is going to set more drought records.  We're in for another shriveled, withered voter turnout, and maybe one like we've never seen.  No bets taken yet on the outcome, but as H.L. Mencken said, you won't go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

Of the many reasons, nefarious or otherwise, plain old stupid may be the best explanation why Jeb Bush registered to vote as an Hispanic.

The Republicans win not because they raise and spend more money, but because they have carefully cultivated an ignorant, apathetic citizen.  Those cuts in education have a purpose, folks.  They're not just hard-hearted (but that's a helpful pre-requisite).  DREAMers were at the Capitol yesterday begging  Donna Campbell, et. al. not to cut off their path out of poverty.

"When people think, we win." -- some former president.

And when people vote only because they are motivated by fear or greed, you get more Republicans voting.  Bernie Sanders had a great reframing of this dilemma in his chat with Evan Smith last week: "If you knew that the Republicans want to cut Medicare, Social Security, start a war and then abandon veterans after they get home... would you vote for that?"

(Scroll down a bit here for the tapas; go here for the full hour, half one-on-one, half audience Q&A).

Some variation of that is what I should have said to that lady before she closed her door.

The Democrats don't need to raise more money or hire more advisers; they just need to talk about what people should really be afraid of.  They need a small handful, two or three is enough, of people in every precinct going door to door -- every single door, and NOT a predetermined walk list from a Democratic voter database -- and ask people a question like that.  (Keep in mind that one of the fallacies of trying to recapture lost voters is that there is some number, significant or not, of Texas kinda-sorta Democrats voting in the GOP primary because they think that's the only way their vote makes a difference.) 

And any focus that may require extra application needs to be on younger people, irrespective of the color of their skin.  This effort requires no consultants, no polling, and no advertising.  Just volunteers who are willing to try to save the world, as they say.  And willing to have doors slammed in their faces, threatened with guns, and dogs and the heat and get up and do it again next weekend.

Good luck, Democrats.  The future of democracy, our nation -- hell, the entire planet -- depends on your improvement in this regard.

Update: McBlogger has a similar-yet-different take.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I agree. The idea that this policy would result in a single additional undocumented family being in Texas is absurd. At the very least, it would have to be supported by some compelling evidence before someone could convince me that it's not absurd.

To switch gears, if you ever had any doubt that Citizens United was a case with serious repercussions to our democracy, the likelihood of a Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton election in 2016 ought to put those doubts to rest.