On the Fourth of July, our thoughts turn to fireworks, flags and fun. On a deeper level, we also pause to consider how fortunate we are to live in the United States of America, where our freedom and democracy are the envy of the world.
As Democrats, we are proud to support the values and ideals upon which this country was built. And nothing upsets us more than when Republicans claim sole possession of patriotism. When right-wing politicians and commentators question our patriotism, we rise up, and Texas Democrats did just that at the State Convention in Houston.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his twin brother, State Representative (and Congressional candidate) Joaquin Castro, perfectly illustrate the possibilities of pursuing the American dream. With degrees from Stanford and Harvard, they returned to Texas to serve their community.
“Education wasn’t just the path of upward mobility for my family,” Mayor Castro said in his convention keynote. “It’s the foundation for economic prosperity for our nation … My family’s story isn’t special. What’s special is the America that makes our story possible. This is a nation like no other, with unlimited potential, and a Texas where great journeys can be made in the space of just a generation.”
“I’m fed up with Republicans questioning our loyalty to this country,” said a fiery Gilberto Hinojosa, the newly elected chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “This is a war that Republicans have waged on all the values that we as Democrats have fought for. When you deprive people of the right to vote, you are un-American. When you deprive women of health care, you are un-American. When you deprive children of an education, you are un-American … We Democrats don’t believe in pulling up the ladder after we reach the top.”
Chris Frandsen, who is running for Texas House District 47 to unseat Republican Paul Workman, is a graduate of West Point, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and the former co-chair of Texas Veterans for Obama.
“Veterans of all religious and political affiliations and some who are not yet American citizens have put aside their civilian lives and donned a uniform to serve this great country of ours,” Frandsen said in a quick break from the campaign trail. “Why do they risk life and limb? Many do it to ensure a good future for their children. Most believe that if the nation is protected and preserved, then the future of their children will not only be assured, but also will be better than their own lives.”
And like many Democrats, Frandsen believes that educating our children is perhaps the most patriotic duty that Texas leaders can perform. The extreme cuts to public schools enacted by the Republican Legislature in 2011 prompted him to run for office.
“Today we stand at a crossroads,” he said. “A funding dilemma is staring us in the face when it comes to educating our children for the future. Once again some of us must sacrifice to ensure the future of our children. We must fund public education, or the future of our state and our children will be bleak. We are all called to service for this future.”
Houston Mayor Annise Parker passionately disputes the anti-government Tea Party notions: “Government is not evil. It’s necessary, and it allows us to transform people’s lives for the better.”
And U.S. Senate Candidate Paul Sadler hammers away at the state’s duty to save public schools. “We will stand up for the people of Texas,” he says. “We are the party that built this state, and we will not let the Republicans destroy it.”
Known for his ability to fire up a crowd, Congressman Al Green of Houston had the convention crowd on its feet as he wrapped up an emotional speech: “I love my country. Democrats, we love our country. Don’t look any further if you’re looking for patriots.”
Just a few of our deeply patriotic Democrats as we celebrate July 4th.