Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A new vision for the Texas Democratic Party

I meant to post this sooner. It's Chris Bell's speech from the SDEC meeting this past weekend. Here are my favorite parts, but go read the whole thing, it's great:
As I travel Texas, Democrats are telling me something that just a few years ago would have sounded like heresy to some in our party. Everywhere I go, Texas Democrats say they are looking for new leaders who aren't afraid to act like Democrats.


And all those folks who don't take frequent dips in Tom Delay's hot tub and whom Rick Perry says aren't real Texans, well, they are part of the New Mainstream


First, we can't afford another two years in which the people in this room are treated like props while Austin insiders pick our nominees like they're casting yet another sequel to Cannonball Run. The SDEC is the grassroots leadership of this party, but for too long you all have been stuck at the kids table when you all should be at the grown-up table where the decisions are made.

The people in this room don't need a pollster to tell them that the Democratic Party needs to do a better job, a much better job, of articulating what I think should be the core Democratic message: that education is the best investment in individual achievement ever made, and that a truly moral government is one that demands excellence not only from our kids but from our Governor as well. It's one that tells parents that if they do their part, then we'll make sure that teachers have the freedom and the resources that they need to teach our kids something more than how to take yet another standardized test. And if we are going to make teaching our kids the highest purpose of government, then we need to give greater rewards for doing the teaching.


The Republicans want you to believe that we are on the right track to solving our education problems. Don't be fooled. The so-called “Texas Miracle” is nothing more than a politically expedient mirage. Enron-style “accountability” has corrupted the curriculum and increased the dropout rate, and it's left our kids needing more remedial help when they get to college


For too long, we have assumed that all we really need to do is wait for people to realize just how bad Republicans are before they started voting for Democrats again.

It is not enough to be right about them being wrong. We have to start defining a future not just for the Texas Democratic Party but for Texas as a whole.


We've tried to out-Republican the Republicans, and all we've gotten for it is a demoralized base, demoralized donors, demoralized activists, and demoralized leaders. Our unwillingness to challenge the other side has given us the most corrupt and incompetent Texas government in a generation. It is our duty to restore Texas pride.


There is a disaffected majority of Texans in the state who are waiting, just waiting to find the basic moral courage to talk about the world the way it is and not the way it polls. They are waiting for us to stop pandering to the issue of the day and to start offering visionary solutions to create a tomorrow that they can get excited about.


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