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A Tale of Three Horses

I know a large coalition of rural Democrats and women were counting on a sea change in the direction of the Texas Democratic Party after the convention. Instead it looks like it will be more of the same. I have to constantly remind myself that the work of advocating for rural counties is completely divorced from party conventions and party leadership. What we learned at the convention is that party leadership will always take care of party leadership. They aren't revolutionaries, nor should we expect them to be I suppose. They are after all invested in the status quo by their very nature. Nor should be we expect them to be all that interested in doing things that will actually win elections. They are doing just fine losing them after all.

But our work is not dependent on a single man or woman. In many ways, Kim Olson's loss may turnout to be something really good. We cannot yet see the end of our story.

There is an old tale of a farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbors told him how unfortunate he was to lose his horse because now he could no longer plow. The farmer replied, "How do I know if this is for good or ill? I do not know." The next day the horse returned with two more horses following him. His neighbors told him how fortunate he was. because now he was two horses richer. The farmer said, "How do I know if this if for good or ill?" Only God knows." The next day his son was thrown from the horse and broke his arm. Again the neighbors bemoaned the farmer's ill fortune because his son could no longer work the fields. "Is it bad?" The Farmer asked. "How can I know if this is good or bad." The next day the King's army came to take his son away to a great and bloody war. When they found the son's arm was broken, they left him at home--and so on, and so on.

We do not know the end of this tale either. How can we?

Kim Olson's loss, in my opinion may be quite fortunate for rural Democrats. It forces us to look inward again, to ourselves, to our neighbors to create the change we so desperately need. But that change, when it comes, will not come through an institution or political party. We cannot rely on any one institution or one person to make change. We must change ourselves and our attitudes and how we approach the challenge of being Democrats in the reddest areas of Texas. When we do that we will have found the secret. When we do that, one of these days the Democratic Party Chair will come running after us yelling, "I must catch up with them for I am their leader!"

It is not about electing a state chair. It is not about winning the next election. Despite my fervent hope to contrary, I will confess something none of our Democratic leaders will tell you. There is a good chance we may not win the next election. Texas is not a battleground state, and we are not about to turn Texas blue. A whole lot of time has to pass and we have to do a whole lot of things different before that happens. I am not even 100 percent sure making the state all blue would be a good thing in the long run anyway. A nice shade of purple and a truly competitive state politics will do just fine. If we put all our trust in party leaders and candidates we will always wind up being disappointed in the end. The only thing we can control is ourselves and how we face our challenges at home, on the courthouse square, at work and in our communities.

The 134 PAC was founded for two reasons: (1) The historical fact that the Texas Democratic Party will give rural Democrats platitudes, but not help; and, (2) a conviction that unless we just want to surrender our homes, our schools, our towns to the Republicans forever, rural Democrats will have to raise their own money and create their own organizations to stop them. We cannot rely on the party, or party leaders or candidates. What we can rely on are our neighbors, family and friends. That is a strength of rural communities that you cannot find in the City. Focus on our strengths. We do not have to do things like the pols in Austin do, nor should we. We aren't them. Be true to ourselves and our place in the world.

This process will not happen in two years, or even four years. It will be long hard work. It will take stamina, it will take sweat, it will take financial sacrifice and it will take decades. Many of us may not live to see the results, but let me assure you, the results will come. If we take the long view, these setbacks will not seem so important after all. We will realize how much bigger the challenge of citizenship is than party conventions and party politics. These are just passing things. I'll also tell you another secret, you can be a really great Democrat and never darken the door of a convention ever again. The struggle, the challenge the work to make ourselves better people, and our communities better places. That is our work. Never forget that.

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