On June 12, Texas Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke made the case for his candidacy and saving the fragile democracy following the insurrectionist attempt to overturn a legitimate presidential election on January 6. The former El Paso Texas congressional representative put forth an alternative vision to the perspective and policies of Governor Greg Abbot and his “turn back the clock” and “restrict voting” policies.
If you have traveled south on MLK boulevard beyond 610, you will notice intersecting streets named after hallowed and gruesome battle sites in the Pacific during WWII. Rapido, Imo Jima, Battan and Okinawa were part of an archipelago of islands that were literally “fire and brimstone.” These islands have their place in history because Americans gave their “last measure of devotion.” This memorable phrase is part of the legacy of the defeat of slavery and saving of the nation. President Lincoln gave a 15-minute speech at Gettysburg and concluded with that phrase.
At Finnigan Park, in the heart of historic Fifth Ward, Texas, Beto said that history demanded that he stands firmly with the soldiers who left ports in Texas for Normandy and Imo Jima. Beto explained that there was too much blood and sacrifice in the fields for any response other than rock opposition to the neo-confederates and insurrectionists. According to BETO, his conviction for public service flows from the “last measure of devotion” by countless forgotten American boys and girls.
Beto mentioned that he was in this fight because of Medgar Evers’ assassination and Fannie Lou Hamer’s struggles for full voting rights. Beto suggested that strong democracy for all is the best way to ensure the interests of the dead, unborn and living patriots. Medgar Evers was a young NAACP field secretary. During WWII, he risked his life by volunteering for the US Army and storming the shores of Normandy. In the ultimate twist of irony, he returned home to fight for rights that he had defended only to be killed by a white supremacist. Beto unapologetically said, Medgar is “why I fight.”
Beto captioned his speech by talking about the person who made the saying famous, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer. She was the child of sharecroppers and she and her husband had eleven children in the segregated land of the free. Working with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) she helped organize Freedom Summer 64 and led the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in a challenge to the segregated state party at the convention. Beto unapologetically said, “I fall within the Hamer tradition, and she represents why I fight.”
During his run for the United Senate, he visited all 254 counties in Texas. After the Finnigan Park rally, he entertained a long queue of citizens that were fed up with cronyism, racism and corruption.
Beto is important because if he can become the governor of TEXAS, progressives’ policies will triumphant. In Texas, twice the national average of citizens is uninsured. That’s 5.2 million citizens. Fossil legislators and the governor have refused to expand Medicaid to cover low –income citizens. Our neighbor state, Louisiana, via a Democratic governor has expanded Medicaid.
Texas is like Louisiana in that the health metrics are abominable. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and maternal mortality disproportionality affects people of color and low-income people. There has been a substantial drop in the uninsured in Louisiana and greater access to quality health care. None of this happens unless your party controls the governor’s seat and the Statehouse.
Let me be clear. I met a 40-year-old nonwhite Hispanic female and mother of four children. She buys her insurance from the Affordable Care Act. Without the subsidy from the health insurance exchange, her family premium would amount to $434 dollars per month. Ms. Z pays $89 per month.
The last time that I checked, Hermann Hospital provided more indigent care than Ben Taub or any other provider. Much of the unfunded liabilities will be eventually picked up by taxpayers – meaning you and I.
The message is not debatable, in my opinion. Not only for affordable housing, childcare, and energy costs, we need change. As President Joe Biden says, when the Affordable Care Act passed, this is a “BFD.” Austin must undergo more than a face lift. For Black well-being, high quality lives, for meaningful Black futures, we must harness all our energies and resources to save our democracy, and this means voting intelligently.
Austin is now “Crazy Town.” Personally, I am betting on BETO to restore sanity. You can vote for whomever you want, just as long as you VOTE!