Saturday, May 12, 2012

Texas Democrats for Senate: My Pick Is...?

I live in a county of rural ignorace, where FOX News is as holy as the Bible- and, considering the Bible tells us that God wants the poor and sick to get help, possibly more holy than the Bible. The county, furthermore, is pretty much identical to its neighbors in this respect. The result is that my state Senator is facing only an underfunded, almost paper candidate in the Republican primary, while two incumbents fight to stay in the lower house by trying to out-teabag each other. (Yes, both claim to be the legitimate tea party candidate.) In both cases, there is no Democratic, Libertarian or Green candidate; primary winner takes all.

The race for US Representative is almost as bad; half a dozen Republicans vying for the brand-new District 36 seat, but only one Democrat... from Bay Area Boulevard in extreme southeast Harris County, down by the Johnson Space Center. (The little bit of Dist. 36 from the Houston Ship Channel down to NASA was added to an otherwise rural piney-woods district to get rid of an annoyingly educated, and thus Democratic, cluster of voters.)

And, of course, none of this makes much difference to you, the reader, as I doubt many people from within Texas State Senate District 3, Texas House District 18, or even U. S. House of Representatives, Texas District 36 are going to read this.

But a lot of you DO live in Texas, and there's actually a selection of Democrats for US Senate, so the rest of this article- me picking which one I'm going to vote for- might actually interest you.

The candidates are: Addie Allen, a business executive and charity worker from Beaumont; Sean Hubbard, a professional political activist from Dallas; Paul Sadler, a former state representative from Henderson...

...and Grady Yarbrough... whose website, at least the one listed at, isn't for his campaign, but advertises for his counseling and "life coaching" services, based on his experience as a public school sports coach and counselor. (And the face on the website is of an old white man, but Yarbrough is, according to the newspapers, black...) Hint: if you don't have a website dedicated solely to your political campaign, easy to find, you're NOT a serious candidate. Scratch Grady Yarbrough. (Which is annoying, because Yarbrough is the only one who answered the League of Women Voters questionnaire...)

Addie Allen has a website, but lists no platform or plan of action; indeed, there's barely a website there at all. Scratch her, too.

So- picking between Hubbard and Sadler. I have misgivings about both. Hubbard is only 31- just barely of legal age to hold the office- and has no significant experience except in working on political campaigns. Sadler's endorsement by the San Antonio Express-News focuses on his 1991-2002 career in the legislature, where he "distinguished himself as an effective leader who worked across party lines — most notably with then-Gov. George W. Bush on educational initiatives."  The Dallas Morning News describes him as, "smart, experienced and independent — that last one an important attribute if lawmakers are ever going to escape Washington’s poisonous partisanship." These endorsements put me OFF Sadler in a big way. Sadler might have the best shot at being elected, but he also looks the most, at first glance, like the "Republican-Lite" statewide candidates the Texas Democratic Party continues to inflict upon us.

It only gets worse when you look at the candidates' issues. Hubbard provides concrete proposals to solve problems- putting police, teachers and other laid-off public servants back to work, writing down underwater mortgages, developing a clean-energy electrical grid, etc. He has the courage, in a state perceived as deep red, to openly advocate reproductive rights for women and full equal rights, including marriage, for gays and lesbians.

Sadler, on the other hand? The top item on his issues list is: "Returning fierce independence and Texas integrity to the US Senate." His issue positions are vapid, empty statements without enough substance even to be called promises: "Paul Sadler knows real economic development means growing jobs... Paul knows what it takes... Paul will fight to make sure the United States armed forces remain the best trained and most well-equipped in the world." In those rare instances where he says something solid, half the time it sounds more like a Republican talking point than a Democratic position, as on education: "He also knows that he federal government should return much of its influence over Texas public schools to local school boards and Texas parents. The federal government should support our public schools, not run them."

The difference grows even more stark when you compare the two candidates in the Dallas Morning News's online voter guide. Example:

Which member of Congress do you most admire and why?

Hubbard: Senator Bernie Sanders, because he is one of the few people in Washington who is looking out for working people.

Sadler:  I admire that most Members of Congress sacrifice significant time away from their families and private lives in order to serve our country. But like most Americans, I would admire our Members of Congress much more if they would put petty partisanship aside and solve problems for our country.

 When you're too much of an empty suit- or, more likely, weasel- to give a straight answer to a question, even a question as fluffy as that, then so far as I'm concerned you're worthless.

Paul Sadler is the sort of Democrat our state party has been sending to November for the past decade and more- half-Republican, vapid, empty, and uninspiring. Despite a handful of liberal positions (such as letting ALL the Bush tax cuts expire), Sadler is a centrist-right candidate. He's an empty suit seeking office not for the benefit of the people but for his own ambition.

Sean Hubbard, on the other hand, is taking bold, principled stands on progressive issues. He supports adding the public option to the Affordable Care Act (Medicare for all, in other words). He supports giving illegal immigrants a practical path to legal residency. He supports raising taxes on the rich,  abolishing corporate tax loopholes, and punishing those who outsource jobs overseas or who put their income into foreign tax-haven accounts. Unlike Sadler, Hubbard provides a clear and unmistakable difference between the Democratic position and the Republican position on each and every issue.

I recognize Hubbard's the underdog. Sadler has the AFL-CIO behind him, all the newspaper endorsements, and a large chunk of the state Democratic establishment. Sadler has also raised three times as much money as Hubbard (though it says much that the two candidates put together barely raised over $100,000 as of March 31, when there are three Republican Senate candidates with war chests into seven figures). We're probably going to get stuck with empty-suit Sadler for the Democratic nominee, and we'll probably hold our noses and vote for him in the hopes that some scandal will knock the Republican nominee out and that the Democratic establishment can find some way to keep Sadler from being too much of a blue-dog traitor.

Despite this, I say Hubbard's the choice- certainly my choice.

And, if you're in Texas and want someone who will seriously push back against corporate hegemony, Hubbard's your choice, too.

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