March On! Texas

Author: Lisa Traugott

Sylvia Holmes Marched – Now She’s Running

Sylvia Holmes Marched – Now She’s Running

The 2018 midterm elections are upon us and women are running for office in record numbers.  One such woman, Sylvia Holmes, went from helping to plan the Women’s March in Austin, the largest march in Texas history, to deciding to run for office herself.

The Women’s March in Austin. Photo By Mike Holp Photography

The other week we sat down to discuss why she wants to be elected to the people’s court, the merits of a UT vs. Texas A&M game and sitting on a bale of hay.

Here are my questions and her answers, slightly edited for clarity.

Tell me something about yourself

I’m a lifelong Texan who’s lived in Austin for over 20 years.  I’m a “Bridger,” born in 1981, so I’m a Millennial, but I also remember using a rotary phone.  I was born in Houston, but I grew up in Anderson County, a rural community.  I lived there with my family between kindergarten and 6th grade.

I was a Daddy’s girl.  We had 50 acres for cattle and crops like corn and watermelons which we sold at the Farmer’s market.  I loved it.  We plowed that field all on our own, dug posts and drove tractors.  My favorite picture from that time is of me sitting on a hay roll with a big smile after helping my dad with the harvesting.

Sylvia Holmes at her farm

Most people would consider my family as being poor because we lived in a mobile home, but we were better off than many others.  My dad was one of only a few in the town who went to college and worked a office job with benefits.

Once, Governor Ann Richards came and spoke at my school in Slocum.  It was a huge deal and I got to see her up close (think 1-2 feet away).  It absolutely shaped my perception of what women could do because I had just turned 9 and no one told me it was odd to have a female governor.​

We moved to Austin when I was in the 6th grade.  Have you heard of the Yogurt Shop Murders in 1990s off Anderson Lane?  It was really bad.  At a yogurt store in Austin four young girls were murdered and the mystery was never solved.  That case shook the state and laws about child labor were passed after that so teenagers wouldn’t be left alone to close a business.  My father became a child labor investigator and we moved to Austin.  I went from elementary-middle-high school population of 300 to just a seventh grade class with over 200 students.  It was a huge change.

Sylvia with her grandfather in Brazoria, Texas

How was that?

At first, I was teased for being an overweight redneck.  I had an East Texas accent and said words funny.  I also had to stop saying “going to town” to mean “going to the grocery store”.  It was an adjustment.  In Austin we had sidewalks and doorbells; you don’t need doorbells in the country.  In the country, if someone’s walking up your driveway it’s because they know you.

However, I’ve been a city girl ever since arriving in Austin and love my city.

What’s your proudest accomplishment from ages 7-14?  Why are you proud of this?

Successfully moving to Austin in 7th grade and then in 8th grade in Round Rock.  Twice I was thrust into new schools and excelled at both.  It was great coming to Austin and meeting kids from other backgrounds and cultures.

What position are you running for?

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3.

What political experience do you have?  Formal or otherwise

I’m Associate Director of Legal Services for Students at UT.  My office represents all enrolled students in civil small claims and criminal misdemeanors, so I’m at the Justice of the Peace and County Court every day.  This office is covered by a tiny part of their tuition (about $5 a year) and was started in the 1960’s by student government to help out the students.  We are like a general practice law firm in a town of 50,000 people.  We advocate locally, statewide and nationally for all of our students.

I’m new to running for politics (and proud of it!) but experienced at justice.  My job involves solving problems for people on both sides in a fair way.

I’ve had a lot of clients who really embraced me, beyond ‘you’re just a lawyer.’  I’ve changed their opinion because they’ve felt their voice was truly being heard, not just listened to, but heard.

Sylvia Holmes at work

What does a Justice of the Peace do?

You’re the judge in the people’s court.  In Texas that means you’re in court for a criminal ticket, but it’s a minor enough offense that you can’t be sent to jail.  This includes traffic tickets, underage drinking, park issues, littering, trespassing (like sneaking into parks after hours), curfew violations (students leaving school during lunch), dog bites, marriages, car accidents and home repair disputes to name a few.

You don’t need a lawyer to file a lawsuit or to defend yourself in a people’s court but people often don’t want to go or ask for help for fear of cost, retribution, or for fear of looking foolish.

As a judge, I don’t want those fears to be barriers.   I’ve been the poor kid from rural America.  I’ve been poor, I’ve been rural, I’ve been fat, I’ve been fit, I’m still the same person, so I know what it’s like to feel insecure.  Everyone should have a little empathy, especially a judge.

The way I see it is ‘You’ve made a mistake, so let’s make this a learning moment’.  Let’s make this useful and not just the judge yelling at you.  I’d like to ease the anxiety because everyone needs to feel confident that justice will be served even if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer.

Why do you want to be a Justice of the Peace?

I want to help people.  Use my experience and knowledge of the law to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equitability and leaves feeling respected by the situation.  If you broke the law you’ll have to pay a fine or pay the consequences but there’s a way to make it a rehabilitative moment.  I want to help restore faith in government.  Our courts are truly the people’s court and we need to ensure that it’s fair.   Minorities, people who aren’t wealthy, and people who are undocumented, should feel respected from start to finish because the court is there to serve the community.

What makes a good judge?

Someone who has a wide variety of experiences who can empathize with variety of situations, who is flexible.  A judge need to be friendly, because you deal with marriages, contracts below $10,000 and traffic tickets.  Unless you get jury duty, arrested or have to visit divorce court, you’re not going to see most courts. Since this is likely to be the only experience in court that you’ll ever have, the judge must represent the judicial branch well.  

What are the biggest issues your constituents are facing?

Lack of knowledge about Texas laws and consumer protection.  Texas is a “buyer beware” and owner-friendly state.  It’s completely on you to do your research.  As a renter you have fewer rights and greater responsibility because you’re borrowing someone’s house for a period of time.

I’m a landlord, so I’ve seen both sides.  I’ve seen both sides.  As a judge it comes down to the facts of the case and the lease.  Young adults getting ready to graduate would benefit if the court did preventative education at the schools, or even just posting basic information on the court’s website.

Another issue is older adults entering a new phase and not being prepared.  I want to get information out there to start talking to senior centers about getting ready for retirement.  Lots of people are going to senior or assisted living houses or renting out their spaces as Air BNB.  I want to ask them, ‘Do you know your rights and responsibilities?’ and then guide them to accurate information.

The last issue is affordability.  Some judges give the harshest fines no matter the circumstance.  I don’t feel like a senior citizen on fixed Social Security income should have to pay the highest fine because they forgot to hang the handicapped placard on their rearview mirror one time.  Justice should be to serve a purpose, not simply to serve a punishment.

If you are elected, how will you help your constituents?

I don’t believe in rubber stamping things, like payday loans and car title loans.  If you’re here for a breach of contract, you have to bring that contract.  I won’t just rule and give you a win by default.  Does it take some time?  Sure.  But that’s how it should be done.

We could have a heck of an impact.  One thing that’s specific to a JP court is that you get issue awareness.  We notice trends –fraud, and scams become trends.  A JP can report that trend to city council and if it’s happening in the nicest part of Texas, what’s happening in the rest of Texas?  As a judge, I can’t make the law, but I can point out potential risks to the city council so they can.

I want to establish a night court, at least once a month.  People don’t all work 9-5 jobs.  It’s hard for people to get off work to get to court at 2pm.  Other counties have night court, why not in our district?

I’d also love to establish community outreach programs to educate everyone about the justice system.  Let’s bring students and parents out to see a trial.  Let people see how our justice system works; too much is hidden right now.

What is the biggest impact you want to make?  You’re biggest goal

This has nothing to do with my job as a JP, but I’d love to reinstate the UT vs. Texas A&M game.  They could even do a spectator game.  Thanksgiving just hasn’t been the same.

As a person who has decided to run for office for the first time, what advice you have for other people interested in running in the future?

Get started as early as possible.

What’s the time commitment to run?

It consumes every waking hour.  Short of my 40 hour job, this is my second full-time job.  It starts at 7:30 a.m. and cuts off at 9 p.m.  I have to make voice mail calls all day long.  Every day twice per week I call other successful candidates for advice, I call people who’ve donated to other judges, and cold fundraising calls to strangers.  It’s hard for me to ask for money, and it amazes me how many people I’ve met on the campaign trail who have given me $25 – $50 after one meeting.  I am grateful for their support and aim to make them proud of their candidate.

Beyond that I’m contacting union leaders, community chairs, HOAs, updating myself on news and going to marches.

Sylvia at rally against white supremacy

What made you decide to run?

I like helping people.  I’m good at turning difficult legalese to understandable sentences.  There are different types of judges.  I’m friendly and flexible but follow the rules.  The law needs to be applied based upon the specific facts of the case so we cure the current problem, and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Sometimes you need to understand that a senior who forgot to hang her handicap placard shouldn’t have to pay the full fine if she’s living on social security.  You need to use your judgement and not throw that book at everyone just to collect fines.

Where can people reach you?

http://www.sylviaforjp3.com

Thanks Sylvia for speaking with March On! Texas!  We will be following her as she campaigns for the 2018 midterms.

Hurricane Resource Guide

Hurricane Resource Guide

Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, the Gulf Coast cities and the rural areas between them.  We know that many of you are going through tough times.

There’s a lot of information out there, so we hope that this resource guide helps.  It’s broken into sections with links to websites, apps and articles that may be useful.

Travel

Which roads are closedHouston Traffic TrackerPort Aransas, Beaumont    

Where do I find GasGas Buddy

Are the airports openHouston AirportHouston Hobby Airport, Corpus Christie Airport,  Dallas/Ft. Worth International, Dallas Love Field, Austin-Bergstrom, and San Antonio International all up and running.

Links to Airline Traveler Waiver info: United, Southwest, American, Jet Blue,  Alaska Air, Frontier

My Home Is Flooded.  Now What?

File a claim with FEMA:  Hurricane Harvey/FEMA

Tips for Harvey Survivors, From Those Who Lived Through Sandy https://nyti.ms/2gqRoV8

Info for flood clean up:  What to do after a flood

How Can I Help?

There are lots of churches and charities helping with donations.  Here are just a few.

Red Cross – Hurricane Harvey

Local to Austin – Make Welcome Kits

Donate new underwear:  Undies For Everyone

Pets:  SPCA of Texas

If you lived through Harvey, we are so happy that you are safe now and will continue to post updates.

Hang in there.

That Time I Rallied Against Nazis

That Time I Rallied Against Nazis

In the wake of the horrific protests of Charlottesville and the implied encouragement of white supremacists by President Trump in his impromptu press event on Tuesday, activists across every spectrum have been hitting the pavement, holding signs and letting their voices be heard.

Today at Austin City Hall there was the Rally Against White Supremacy.  It was non-violent and speakers with diverse backgrounds discussed ways to take action to promote greater equality in our country.

Rally Against White Supremacy

Activists from the Black, Latino, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Transgender and White communities spoke, as well as Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Mayor Steve Adler, which we live streamed on our Facebook page.

One speaker from Black Lives Matter challenged everyone at the rally to not feel good about just showing up and holding a sign, but to really promote change by seeking more budget money in marginalized communities and holding elected officials accountable or work hard to replace them with better ones.

Several speakers reminded everyone to be active bystanders; if you see someone bullying a minority speak up!

March On! Texas members Simone Laurent, Lisa Traugott and Sylvia Holmes

“Isms” (racism, sexism, classism, etc.) has always been with us, but under the leadership of President Trump the fringe hate groups feel like they have a friend in the White House and that it is suddenly now okay to try to turn on our neighbors.  It’s not.

One rally isn’t going to change the world, but it’s a step in the right direction.  At March On! Texas we encourage everyone to become everyday activists.

Tolerance can and should be taught to our youngest citizens at local schools.  Did you know that 12 districts are having local school board elections in November?  Here are some reasons why that’s important and why everyone should vote:  School Board Elections

To find out other progressive events around the state, checkout our website www.MarchOnTexas.com.

Do you want to get involved, volunteer and help progressives win local elections where they can have the biggest impact?  Learn more here.

Every day try to do something that makes the world a better place.

March on, y’all!

 

The Importance of Schools and Tolerance

The Importance of Schools and Tolerance

This week (every week?) has been filled with distractions from the Executive branch.  I heard a comedian once liken Donald Trump to a monkey in a theatre flinging feces at the audience so no one would pay attention to the actual play going on.

His divisive remarks about Charlottesville, saying that somehow the “alt-left” was partly to blame for Neo-Nazis and the KKK causing chaos leaving three people dead, is dangerous but unsurprising from him.  We all knew what he really thought about diversity.

Once again, we must look to ourselves for leadership.  One of the most eye-popping articles I read was about a father repudiating his 30 year-old son in his local newspaper for joining the alt-right/white supremacists rally:  He didn’t learn this at home.

Another article that connected with me was an interview with the former high school teacher of James Alex Fields Jr., the man who used his car to strike counter protesters killing one and injuring 19.  The teacher said that Fields was bright but misguided and handed in a paper basically glorifying Nazi views.  The teacher felt like he failed because he wasn’t able to counter this young man’s skewed views.

Sierra PTO

These two articles resonated with me because it brings back the importance of making sure our students are educated with facts and not revisionist history distorted from the dark corners of the alt-right internet.  The information that young men and women fill their brain with matters.

While no one has control over the world wide web, we do have a say in the text books they read. That’s why there was such an uproar in 2015 when the Texas Board of Education approved textbooks that said Moses was a Founding Father and slaves were “workers” from Africa.  Now, more then ever, it is important that we teach tolerance and truth from a very young age.

After this weekend’s events many were left asking, “How can I get involved?  What can I do?”  Let’s think local.

There are 12 school districts that have seats open on their school boards.  These districts include: Houston, Klein, Leander, Los Fresnos, New Caney, Schertz-Cibolo, Spring, College Station, Aldine, Alief, Bryan and Cypress-Fairbanks.

Wouldn’t it be great if these school boards had some progressive candidates elected to them?  The deadline to file candidacy is Monday, August 21.

Know someone that lives in a district that would be great candidate? Share this post with them or tag them in it!

We must do what we can at the local level to ensure that tolerance is taught to the greatest assets we have, our children.

March on y’all

P.S. – If you do know a progressive running, please email lisa@marchontexas.com.  We’d love to hear and help!

 

I Feel Like I’m In An Episode of Game of Thrones

I Feel Like I’m In An Episode of Game of Thrones

Do you remember the good old days when people at the office water cooler spoke about Kim Kardashian?  I miss that fluffy gossip of no consequence.

Today I feel like I’m living in an episode of Game of Thrones.  Just like the warring kingdoms in Westeros, today’s conversations include extreme division between the sexes (think: Google Memo), races (Affirmative action for whites), immigrants (Proposed “merit-based” immigration policy) and religions (Muslim ban).

Putin, like the scheming Littlefinger, is laughing at all the chaos he has caused and is celebrating with shirtless selfies in Siberia.

Playing the long game, without a shirt. Photograph: Sputnik via AFP/Getty Images

But our own boy-king Donald Trump, in GoT Joffrey fashion, upped the game when he made off-the-cuff comments about raining “fire and fury like the world has never seen” against North Korea for it’s newfound nuclear capabilities.  Kim Jung-un didn’t seem too scared of this rhetoric though, as he then proceeded to threaten to nuke Guam.

Photo: YouTube

As if this political brinksmanship drama wasn’t enough, an existential threat greater than the White Walkers was exposed when federal scientists leaked a report about climate change to the New York Times because they feared their own government, aka the Trump administration, would suppress or change it.

Where’s Khaleesi on a dragon when you need her?

I guess we have to be our own heroes.  Here’s how:

  • Want better leaders?  Vote for them!  Not sure about the who/what/where/how of voting in local elections?  There’s an app for that: Voter’s App
  • We don’t have a say in pulling out of the Paris Accords but we can fight global warming5 Ways You Can Save Planet Earth
  • Sick of all the vicious verbal barbs?  We are too:  Civility

Want to do even more?  Volunteer to work on the issues that matter most to you.  Be part of the solution.  Want to be inspired?  Read: The Silver Lining of the 2016 Election (Warning: it might make you cry…or volunteer.)

March on y’all!

6 Months After I Didn’t March

6 Months After I Didn’t March

“Where were you on the day of the Women’s March?”  It’s going to be one of those snapshot-in-time questions like, “Where were you on 9/11?”  This week, as we pause to reflect about unified civil disobedience, pink pussycat hats and a day of power, I’m almost ashamed to admit where I was:

Having a panic attack on a treadmill.

I had donated to Hillary’s campaign, but didn’t put a sign up on my lawn (too risky).  Half my family voted for Donald Trump and were openly gloating about it to the point where I stopped answering my text messages.

For decades I’ve been voting and everyone knows that you win some, you lose some; this was the first time ever though that I’ve felt scared by the outcome.  Yes, I was pro-Hillary, and although saddened that we didn’t make history with the first woman president, that’s not why I was crying on election night and hyperventilating on inauguration day.  I was (am still!) legitimately frightened that Donald Trump is in charge of the nuclear codes.

Who knew what things white supremacist Stephen K. Bannon was whispering into Donald Trump’s ear and how that would translate into law?  If Trump’s campaign rhetoric was true that would mean that he has a rubber stamp to pass his unconstitutional Muslim ban, reinstate “stop and frisk”, stop supporting the Paris Climate Accord, overturn Roe v. Wade and build that wall.  And with conservatives’ majorities in both chambers and now the Supreme Court too to rubber stamp his ideas, would I even recognize my own country four years from now? 

And then something wonderful happened.  Pictures of the Women’s March…in TEXAS…started entering my newsfeed.  People participated across the globe in the millions and even in Texas!  Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore.  I wasn’t brave enough to go to the march, but they did.

Photo c/o Kristi Wright Photography

I remember reading in history class about peaceful protests and civil rights movements and wondering what I would do if I were in that situation.  Would I get involved or stay safely silent?  On the day of the Women’s March I went through some extreme vetting of my own morals and decided it was time for me to speak up. 

I went to a digital organizing class for Progressives, where I met Melissa Fierro who organized the march in Texas, shattering Texas history that day with 100,000 participants.  There was so much energy she and a group of volunteers formed March On! Texas to keep up the momentum.  March On! Texas has a mission to educate, motivate and activate women to help speak out for issues important to us and to help elect Progressives at the local level. 

Since volunteering with them, I’ve regained a sense of power and optimism that was crushed during the entire campaign season.  Some of the things I participated in included:

·         Blue Ribbon Lobby Day – groups of us got to meet with our representatives at the state capitol and talk about local legislation that was important to us, including women’s reproductive rights, public education and health care. 

Blue Ribbon Lobby Day

·         Help craft and send out weekly marching orders that gave three actions to do that week to help promote our Progressive agenda.

·         Wrote letters to both senators and did a blog post explaining how healthcare directly impacted me and my family and encouraged others to do the same.

·         We asked people throughout the state of Texas to send us names of Progressives running for local elections.  Marchers identified over 70 names, 45 of them women!  One volunteer created an interactive map that linked to candidates’ websites to get the word out.

·         We reached out to the candidates, encouraged people to attend meet-and-greets, volunteer, fundraise, and of course get out there and vote!  16 progressive candidates won, which is a step in the right direction, and also shows us how much further we need to keep going.

Beto O’Rourke with March On Texas women

·         Volunteers supported other groups by sharing events on our calendar and attending marches and information sessions.  If you attended a march for the environment, LBGTQIA, Muslim rights, civil rights, town halls and/or reproductive rights chances are you met someone from March On! Texas there too.

·         In the day of “fake news” and “alternative facts” we have strived to share accurate information through our Facebook page from credible sources and blog posts educating and inspiring people to learn more about local politics and how we can make a difference.

·         We strive to share stories of everyday activists, feminist powerhouses and artists standing up for values we believe in.

The New Activists

So, my message to anyone out there who didn’t march on that day is that you can still make a difference!  Don’t beat yourself up for missing out on one march, because that was yesterday and this is today.   Life is full of small choices you make each and every day and I hope you choose to join us in supporting local Progressive candidates and fighting for women’s rights, equal rights and an inclusive American society.  Let’s make Texas blue again!

March on, y’all!

What’s the #NRA2DOJ Women’s March About?

What’s the #NRA2DOJ Women’s March About?

You may or may not have heard about the #NRA2DOJ Women’s March to take place this weekend in Virginia.  Here are some facts about it:

The Women’s March in Washington D.C. happened the day after President Trump’s inauguration and inspired sister marches around the world.  The march was organized around Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of non-violent civil protests.  If you attended the march, or saw pictures from it, you viewed millions of women, men and children peacefully marching and holding up signs that promoted unity.

Part of this unity includes standing up for principles progressives believe in, including racial equality.

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile, an African American school employee, was pulled over by police officer Jeronimo Yanez in Minnesota for a routine traffic stop.  When Castile mentioned to the police officer that he had a gun in the car (which he had a permitted license to carry) he was shot, even though he was following Yanez’s instructions to show his driver’s license.   His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter were in the car with him to him.  Reynolds live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook, as Philando moaned next to her.  He died 20 minutes later in the hospital.  (Officer Yanez was since acquitted of all charges.)

The NRA (National Rifle Association) is usually very vocal about the right to bear arms, their stated mission.  But in this particular instance, when a black man with a gun permit was shot by a police officer, they said absolutely nothing in his defense.

The Women’s March called the NRA to take action on this point.  Soon after, the NRA posted a right-wing activist ad that promotes an “us vs. them” scenario implying that progressives marching for civil rights are violent and a threat.  You can see the ad here:

“In response, Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory penned an open letter to the NRA calling for the ad to be removed and an apology to be issued to the American public for the false and inflammatory rhetoric.  Instead of distancing themselves from the vitriol, the NRA responded by releasing a new video attacking Tamika and other leaders personally and doubling down on the implied call to arms. This is the kind of incendiary speech that leads to acts of hate and violence, and it is unequivocally meant to create a chilling effect on communities speaking up and using the power of our collective voice.” (Letter from the Women’s March).

After that, the Women’s March decided to organize a peaceful protest to demonstrate the following things:

On July 14th & 15th, Women’s March and partners will mobilize a mass demonstration, again grounded in the principles of Kingman nonviolence, to denounce the false and intimidating rhetoric of hatred and send a clear message that our movement will proudly and bravely continue to strive for the respect of the civil and human rights of all people.

Here are the details of the #NRA2DOJ March:

For more details you can go directly to their website here: WomensMarch.

The New Activists

The New Activists

We range from college students to women who marched in the 1960’s.  We are mothers and millennials and nasty women.  And if you call us “snowflakes” we’ve got news for you:

Winter is Coming.

Most of us were fans of politics, but we never really got in the game.  We might donate money to a candidate, but never walk the block for them.  We might post a meme on Facebook, but never actively engaged with our neighbors.  Not really.

Not until Donald Trump became President Trump.

And then we marched.  And then realized that marching wasn’t enough.  March On! Texas started as a sister march but it has grown since then.  Our goals are to go local and focus on how we can turn Texas blue again.

The New Activists

Did you know that Texas used to be led by Democrats?  Despite the gerrymandering done after the 2010 census, a lot of us still exist.

On election night we progressives in the shadows were hoping to shatter the glass ceiling for that highest, hardest wall; instead we were shattered to find that despite losing the popular vote by 3,000,000, Donald Trump became the leader of our country.

He bragged about sexually assaulting women.  He openly discriminated against Muslims, immigrants, the disabled and people of color.  His foreign policy changed with the wind, he put white supremacists, climate-change-deniers and people with zero experience in positions of power, and his son Don Jr. just tweeted out an email chain showing his campaign loved the idea of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton directly from the Russian government.

All this could have left us collapsed and destroyed, believing that the system is rigged and we are powerless, but on the contrary we are stronger.  Democrats were broken but the new Progressive activists are rising up empowered.

  • Our notions of just donating money and hoping for the best are shattered.
  • Our excuses for not getting involved are shattered.
  • Our trust in leaving it up to someone else has been shattered.

We are the new activists.

We love our country.  We are putting ourselves on the line and we will not stop until we see progressives and moderates back in power.

And we need help from people like you.

For more information, please go to our website www.MarchOnTexas.com.

March on y’all!

Civility

Civility

By Melissa Fierro

Civility… It’s a two-way street.  Bitch, slut,  pig she was bleeding from wherever,  low IQ, crazy.  Words we hear nearly every day coming from  our president.  Not presidential?  No.  Language of the gutter?  Yes.  Exclusive to Donald Trump?  Not by a long shot.

We are appalled and outraged at the low level of discourse our president seems to think is okay.  He is president of the United States of America!  He should hold himself to a higher moral standard!  He should set a better example for our children! But what level of moral standard do we hold ourselves to?  What kind of example are we setting for our children?

Everyday I see posts on Facebook making pejorative comments about Kellyanne Conway’s looks or calling her a bitch.  Ivanka Trump is  a bimbo, slut or worse.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a fat cow or stupid.  And the president is called names so vile that if our kids said it, we would ground them for a month.  People in glass houses better be careful of throwing stones.

Cartoon by Darrin Bell

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not trying to preach or get on my moral high horse.  I can’t stand the sight of Donald Trump.  The sound of his voice makes my skin crawl. (And for those of you who know me, I have the mouth of a sailor.)  And I have been guilty of every single thing I mentioned above.

But I started recognizing the hypocrisy of being appalled at those on the right for doing or condoning what I was guilty of doing myself.  And I realized when I heard my husband call a woman on the right something unsavory my blood pressure would rise and I found myself defending them.

Why?

Because we cannot expect more from others than we expect from ourselves.  A simple truth most of us forget in our horror and anger at what is being done to our country.  And the manner and style in which DJT chooses to do it.  But, as Michelle Obama famously said and has so often been quoted, “When they go low we go high.” Let’s go high people.

Beat them at the polls, not at their own game.

Um, I Agree With Ted Cruz?

Um, I Agree With Ted Cruz?

At March On Texas we pretty much never agree with anything Senator Ted Cruz says or does.  Until now.

Senator Cruz is one of the reasons why Mitch McConnell pulled the Republican version of the healthcare bill from the floor without taking a vote but is trying to put it up for a vote by Friday.  The senate needs 50 votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, meaning only two Republicans could vote against it, and Senator Cruz was one who flat out said no.

Yay!

Now granted, the reasons why he said no (the bill was too generous) versus why we said no (22 million people would lose their coverage, Medicaid would be cut – kicking out old people from nursing homes and pregnant women from prenatal care, the bill would raise premiums up to five times higher than the youngest for adults in their 50’s and 60’s, it tries to dismantle Planned Parenthood and while giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and insurance companies.)

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows and this is one of those times.  So let’s be supportive to Senator Ted Cruz and continue to tell him to vote NO for the repeal and replace bill.

In case you needed some facts (real ones, not the alternative kind) here are some highlights of what the Republican bills would do, and how it would potentially affect Texans:

  • CBO estimates 22 million people would lose their healthcare coverage.  That includes 2.6 million Texans with the number of uninsured Texans increasing by 58% by 2019.
  • Women could be charged more for insurance just for being women.  Prior to Obamacare, women in Texas were charged as much as 56% more than men for the same coverage.
  • Pre-existing conditions would either be decided directly by the states (House bill) or would allow states to request the ability to reduce essential coverage, meaning that the people who need that coverage would have to pay substantially more and insurance companies could impose lifetime caps on what they have to pay (Senate bill).
  • The oldest adults (ages 50 – 64) can be charged five times more for insurance.
  • Medicaid (insurance for the poor, disabled, kids and pregnant women) would be cut off from federal funding starting in 2020.  Approximately 4.7 million Texans, about 16% of the state’s population, rely on Medicaid for their health insurance.  The majority of Medicaid funding goes to people with disabilities.  Under this plan these services will likely be cut.
  • A one year block would be placed on Planned Parenthood reimbursement, which CBO estimates 15% of women would lose access to family planning services increasing the birth rate.  (And remember that Medicaid for the poor would also be cut, which includes care for pregnant women and newborns, and women could be charged more for insurance.)
  • If you are wealthy, according to CBO you get $563 billion in tax cuts over 10 years under the Senate bill, while the poor, pregnant, sick, elderly and disabled pay higher health costs for worse coverage.

For more information, you can read the full articles used to reference these numbers:  Who Wins, Who Loses With Senate Healthcare Bill and Defending Healthcare in 2017, What is at Stake for Texas?

The time to act is now.  This bill is set to go back to the floor this Friday.  Call Senator Cruz and pressure him to continue to vote no.  Our reasons may be different but a no vote from him will ultimately benefit Texas families.