Y’allidarity
May 1, 2018 9:35 AM   Subscribe

 
“It’s a blessing,” said Higdon, a retired truck driver who was denied FEMA cash assistance in September. Thirty-five years of hauling construction equipment around Texas had ruined his hips and knees, forcing him to retire, and he’d blown through all his savings on chemotherapy for his wife, who died in 2013. He now lives on a meager $1,300 monthly disability check. “I’m just surprised they have people like y’all that will come help people like me.”

Tears, but also: imagine if that was how everything worked.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:48 AM on May 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Y'all means all, motherfuckers. Ahem.

As Cliff Walker, staffer with the Texas Democratic Party, put it: “Maybe in other places there’s hostility [between DSA and the Democratic Party], but in Texas — where there hasn’t really been national investment — the cavalry is all of us.” Walker added that he didn’t mind that DSA supports only a fraction of the Democratic slate. “Given how grave the stakes are, we either hang together, or we hang separately,” he said.

This is absolutely correct for Texas, and I think speaks generally for what I have observed in the state party. Texan Democrats are used to odds being low, and while many of our old guard leadership has been wary of another whipping, a lot of the folks I see stepping up now are people who are relatively new to organizing with Democrats--and to their credit, the general attitude I feel from the state Democratic party is welcoming. I hear whispers that the state would rather not have another Battleground Texas situation--a case where a lot of outside money was followed with bad feelings and infighting, some years ago--and that people are pleased to be feeling support both from outside and within the state.

More, Texas Democrats have inarguably been abandoned by the national party. It's not even a fucking talking point. So all these waves of enthusiasm which have been largely ground-up, not top-down, are I think a bit of a shock to the long-term state Democratic party, but a pleasant one. It's easier to cling to old establishment cronies if you haven't been left out in the cold by them over and over and over again over the course of your career, and this time the surge of progressive enthusiasm is more willing to listen to old-time Texan progressives and push forward rather than assuming the existing Democrats here are idiots.

Besides, with so little to lose, Texan Democrats have a long tradition of unyielding progressivism that I think is probably more welcoming to organizations like the DSA than you'd expect. Our progressives, when they get into office, know exactly what the stakes are and how hard they have to fight, and they're traditionally pretty fucking motivated to play hardball with Republicans. That stands in culture contrast to the shit I hear from national Dems and their responses to conservative organizing, and I'm rather fond of it.
posted by sciatrix at 9:58 AM on May 1, 2018 [56 favorites]


I've said it before and I'll say it again: in majority Republican states the Democratic voters are not right leaning and desperate for a centrist triangulation sort of Republican Lite candidate. Surrounded by genuine, no foolin', capital C, conservatives the Democratic voters move left not right.

We see, firsthand, the devastation wrought by conservative policies. Of course Texas Democrats are left wing. If we wanted to be Republican it'd be so damn much easier.
posted by sotonohito at 10:07 AM on May 1, 2018 [65 favorites]


I have a bunch of friends involved in DSA here in Houston; I'm kinda ashamed I haven't found the time.

But I'm also super encouraged by their passion.
Tears, but also: imagine if that was how everything worked.
The ongoing post-Harvey mutual aid comes out of the belief that this SHOULD be how things work, and that if you want that to be true, you have to actually do the work of making it true.

Also, the person with the "Justice" tattoo is a friend of mine. Another pal (who is also a Mefi reader! Hi!) is friends with Bynum; I met him at a dinner party at her house. It's nice to see a story about Texas on the Blue that makes me proud to live here.
posted by uberchet at 10:44 AM on May 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


Direct action works and that's what the DSA is doing here in Texas. Brake light clinics save lives. Democrats in the northeast have the luxury of not staring at the results of hard right Republican and Tea Party policies in the face every day. So-called oases of liberalism like Austin are only relative.

(edited to say amen to sciatrix and sotonohito)
posted by mrcrow at 10:46 AM on May 1, 2018 [17 favorites]


I'm sure lots of people will have many very smart things to say on the politics of this post, I am not one of them. I just... "y'allidarity". Omg. Y'all. I love this.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:53 AM on May 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


> More, Texas Democrats have inarguably been abandoned by the national party. It's not even a fucking talking point.

No shit, right?

Ditto to uberchet's shame for not finding time to join with these awesome socialist Texans. They're super inspiring.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 10:58 AM on May 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


Dallas Texas started this shit in 1855

It's just been laying on the down low for a long time, that's all.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:06 AM on May 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


I love the term. "y'allidarity" is good to say.

Seconding the support of DSA's practical actions that provide concrete value to people.
posted by doctornemo at 11:08 AM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


No shit, right?

fucking--I hadn't even seen that, I'm a little out of the loop except for my ongoing cheering on of Sheryl Cole in my local house runoff primary. (And hell, whoever wins that race I'll cheerfully support--I like Chito Vela fine, it's just that Cole has more experience and it'd be nice to keep the seat in the hands of a local black woman.)

What idiots. That's what you fuckers think you need to spend your campaign money on? Tearing down democratic primary candidates? What the fuck is wrong with the national party? They can't be fucking arsed to help with more than three of the races we have running statewide--after state party processes are rising and gaining steam like hell--but they can be arsed to try to take down a candidate who is building local support and steam?

Yeah, that's about what we expect from the national party down here, all right. Idiots. You'd think politicians would be less fucking incompetent at politics, but apparently not.
posted by sciatrix at 11:24 AM on May 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


Another sign of the impact of Bernie Sander's extraordinary presidential run.
posted by doctornemo at 1:58 PM on May 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Another sign of the impact of Bernie Sander's extraordinary presidential run.
Indeed! That's the door that I came through, and they really hit my radar and got my membership money after Charlottesville. I'm ashamed that I haven't been as engaged as I could have been, but their local meeting logistics are a killer when it comes to time and traffic. I am very glad they are here.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 2:09 PM on May 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I hope so! Despite Texas' love with bass ackwards regressivism, there is a unique solidarity and kinship among Texans even when we think of one another as broken parasites. Socialism would obviously bring us lots of benefits but I think it would also fit in nicely with the sort of mythical communalism we supposedly have.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:00 PM on May 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


I am I think most impresed by the work the DSA has put into the wake of Harvey--you want pissy no-reason-to-trust-the-feds folks to start thinking about how nice it would be to have a governing body that has their backs, getting out there and visibly helping out anyone who isn't actually actively spitting on you is a damn good start.

There's actually a lot of similarity between a functional Evangelical Chris show-your-faith-by-your-good-works mindset and the way the DSA is running things, if I'm honest, and I mean that in the most complimentary possible way.
posted by sciatrix at 4:00 PM on May 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


Evangelical Christian, I mean. Thanks, Autocorrect.
posted by sciatrix at 6:31 PM on May 1, 2018


Could a new shade of red help Texas finally turn blue?

American political metaphors are broken.

Anyway, best of luck messing with Texas, guys! They've had it coming. (Please convince DSA to start getting elected to school boards, you would genuinely transform America.)
posted by Merus at 6:39 PM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh. Oh my. Sign me the fuck up.

/joins the Austin chapter
posted by ZakDaddy at 8:42 PM on May 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've said this before but reading Molly Ivins did a lot to form my political worldview as a teenager, so I've long known and respected the left wing in Texas.
posted by atoxyl at 11:22 PM on May 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


There's actually a lot of similarity between a functional Evangelical Christian show-your-faith-by-your-good-works mindset and the way the DSA is running things, if I'm honest, and I mean that in the most complimentary possible way.

One could probably use Marxism as a drop-in replacement for Christianity as a creed. Both contain unfalsifiable teleological belief systems that require a leap of faith to adopt (Marxism's is, of course, the Dialectic Materialist model of history ultimately resolving to Communism, which is essentially isomorphic to the Kingdom of Heaven).
posted by acb at 3:01 AM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Okay, except that's not remotely what I meant? I'm not talking about belief systems, I'm talking about social engagement and philosophies of presentation. I'm talking about advocating for what you believe via action, and it honestly kind of pisses me off to see you immediately go to a crabby-atheist place--and I say this as a Satanist, so don't go thinking I'm blind to the many, many faults of Christian evangelicals.

But I have also known a number of evangelical Christians who used their ideology to actually motivate good works and setting good examples of charity, generosity, and community building both inside and outside their personal church networks. These people do exist, although they need to be a hell of a lot more vocal about policing their own. And the genius of the DSA lies in extending that ideology to helping others. As the article points out, that's an ethos that appeals to many ex Christians of a number of creeds, particularly those who have since left the Church and are looking for a new way to encourage solidarity and support within their communities. But it is also, because it is a purely secular and political movement, an ethos that will appeal to current Christians using the same theological adherence to actually extend generosity and charity to less fortunate people in their communities.

In Texas, that is a useful political tactic that helps build coalitions, and the cynical teleology snark is the sort of self-serving, comfortable commentary that sinks those coalitions. Coalition building and finding places where we can agree on doing good is one of the central tactics of good politics, and it's one of the traditional weaknesses of the left. I am proud that the DSA is attempting to avoid them to the extent that it is, and wish it luck in minimizing the keyboard jockeying also mentioned in the article.
posted by sciatrix at 6:27 AM on May 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Socialism doesn't have a future anywhere, let alone Texas of all places.
posted by lstanley at 7:17 AM on May 2, 2018


This article makes me very happy. Texas leftists are a special kind of awesome for reasons others have explained so well above.

I live in Northern Virginia now after living in Austin for 7 years. It's startling, the difference between the mealy-mouthed centrism I see here* and the unapologetic leftism I witnessed in Texas. (I really, really miss Texas.)

*This is not to say that there isn't unapologetic leftism here, too. There certainly is. But it's much more overshadowed by establishment Democrat-ism in public discourse, at least in my experience.
posted by come_back_breathing at 7:25 AM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Socialism doesn't have a future anywhere, let alone Texas of all places.
posted by lstanley at 9:17 AM on May 2 [+] [!]


lets wait and see if Houston elects a socialist to the county court or the department of education, and then regroup on this
posted by anthropophagous at 3:16 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I agree that socialism doesn't have a future, but as with most threads that touch even remotely on politics in the USA, it's worth reminding everyone that socialism in the present day context tends to mean social democracy, because We Don't Do Distinctions Well These Days.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:44 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


You do you.
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Okay, on review, that came out vastly more mean-spirited than it was meant. My apologies. And good luck to the Texans of the post - and in this thread.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:05 PM on May 2, 2018


Socialism doesn't have a future anywhere, let alone Texas of all places

A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows (WP)

Socialism brought us the 8-hour day and labor unions. Progressive politics in the United States tend to gain traction in periods like the current one - rising inequality and a few people holding all of the money and resources.

I’m just happy the DSA is working in the Democratic Party. The party is not at all perfect, but it is a big tent that holds a lot of people who want a better future for all of us, I want us to work together.

Also, I wish the DSA was a bit more diverse (though my local Democratic Party leadership is probably 99% white, so I think everyone in politics right now has some work to do on diversity).
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:01 AM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


that's an ethos that appeals to many ex Christians of a number of creeds, particularly those who have since left the Church and are looking for a new way to encourage solidarity and support within their communities. But it is also, because it is a purely secular and political movement, an ethos that will appeal to current Christians using the same theological adherence to actually extend generosity and charity to less fortunate people in their communities.

yeah! Have we had a post on the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign? It’s so good. (They have a liaison in DSA national leadership.)
posted by clavicle at 5:43 AM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Not that I've seen. You should do one!
posted by sciatrix at 7:13 AM on May 3, 2018


Socialism doesn't have a future anywhere, let alone Texas of all places.

[citation needed]
posted by seyirci at 7:43 AM on May 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Any statement that purports to predict the future can be safely ignored.
posted by rhizome at 9:02 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


"[DSA] engages in electoral politics and is open to organizational structure in a way the high-octane but short-lived Occupy movement wasn’t, and while DSA doesn’t shy from critiquing the Democratic Party as beholden to corporate interests, it generally shuns the pure, winless road of Green Party activism" reads like a template to follow here in Wisconsin as I attempt to get a chapter organized (in Ryan's hometown, but alas no longer as a foil). I'm probably not a very good socialist in ideological terms, and I'm even actually a local Democratic official of sorts (not that there's anything wrong with that), but feel the time is ripe for making some noise here. It's a union town but allergic to most radicalism (we have Madison nearby for those preferring that ecology, after all). I do suspect that most of the people who might become active are more like old-school placard shakers than a large cohort of millennials, so we'll see how that goes, anyway. I'm in cahoots with a longtime labor guy who runs the local monthly seminar for progressives, which is mostly as I just described, but explicitly not electorally active. And I'm intrigued by doing things like brake light clinics as a form of direct action.
posted by dhartung at 4:59 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


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