At the end of May, progressives and reformers had a big win in Texas to celebrate. Texas? Well...
sort of sure. El Paso is its own unique little corner of Texas, closer, some people like to say, to Los Angeles than to Houston. And in a different time zone from the rest of the state. The big victory was undeniable-- an entirely grassroots campaign by a reform-Democrat on the El Paso City Council, Beto O'Rourke, that swept away longtime Congressman and Machine Democrat Silvestre Reyes, a cog in the Military Industrial Complex wheel.
When I asked Beto what topic he would most like to discuss at our Blue America chat at today (noon, El Paso time, 11am, PT) he didn't hesitate for a moment, although it's a topic a lot of Democrats shy away from: immigration. Beto, 39 years old and the father of 3 small children, is a 4th-generation El Pasoan, a graduate of Columbia University who returned to El Paso and started a technology and media company downtown--not to mention the band, Foss with Cedric Bixler-Zavala who went on to play in At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta. Cedric went on to other bands-- and Beto went on to City Hall, winning 3 elections as a no-nonsense reformer, where he opposed vigilante Minutemen groups on the border, opposed the wasteful and failed so-called "war on drugs," and pushed through a forward-looking downtown revitalization plan. He was effective and controversial and his enemies kept trying to recall him... but readers of El Paso's biggest weekly voted him the city's Best Elected Official-- beating both Mayor John Cook and, ominously, Congressman Silvestre Reyes.
TX-16, Beto's district, is one of the bluest in Texas. When most of the state was giving McCain a 55-44% landslide over Obama, El Paso voters gave Obama a solid two-thirds victory. Both Gore and Kerry also won in TX-16 while most of the state rallied around its former governor. Beto's victory in the primary stunned DC insiders. They saw a business-as-usual member of their own corrupt little club fall to a steely-eyed reformer. For Party bosses that's scarier than the opposite party winning a seat, which probably explains why the DCCC is completely ignoring Beto's race. That has a lot to do with why Blue America is stepping in with a fill throttle endorsement and why we're asking you to help us make sure he beats the Republican candidate who hopes to flood the district with corporate money.
Beto's adamantly pro-Choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-immigrant stands have angered the haters and bigots and they're determined to defeat him. The DCCC is uninterested in helping. You think they want to hear things like this?
"El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua are home to over 2.5 million people from all over the hemisphere, and together we form the largest bi-national community in the world. This is where Latin America and North America meet, where cultures, economies, families and histories come together.
"The numbers alone are staggering: $80 billion in trade and millions of pedestrians and automobiles cross the five international bridges that connect our two countries annually.
"But our imprint on history is incalculable.
"It was in this bi-national community that the Mexican revolution was planned and launched; it’s here that millions of immigrants first experienced this country as they made their way deeper into the United States, making El Paso the Ellis Island for those coming from Latin America; and it’s El Paso’s history of tolerance and progressiveness that has broken so many national barriers when it comes to race and ethnicity (we elected the first Mexican-American mayor of a major city in 1957; we won the NCAA basketball championships in 1966 with the first all-black starting five; and we were the first city in the former Confederacy to desegregate places of public accommodation).
"Our connection to each other and our isolation from the centers of power, in Washington D.C. and Mexico City D.F., have made us stronger, more self reliant, and less influenced by the conventional wisdom from our respective country’s capitals.
"It means that when we look at the issues related to the border-- issues like immigration, security, trade or Plan Merida-- we understand them better than any community in America, because we live them.
"When D.C. wants to build billion-dollar walls to keep people out, we know it’s money wasted that could be better spent connecting our two countries. When we invest in military helicopters and drug war materiel in Mexico, instead of in schools and social infrastructure, we know that we are condemning our neighbor to more violence and failed policies.
"We see immigration as a huge benefit to this country-- one that fuels our economy, enriches our culture and helps positively define who we are, both to this country and to others around the world.
"We know that we’re offered a false choice when asked to decide between security and mobility. We understand that cities like ours, with large immigrant populations, are the safest in the country.
"Whether you look at it through the prism of economics, demographics or culture-- we are the future of this country. I look forward to sharing a positive vision of the U.S./Mexico border and helping ensure that the best values of our party and our country are reflected in our national policy."
Beto is part of the future of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, part of the future of a new Texas and part of the future of our dynamic country. Please help him write history in November.