Hooray! There’s reason for all of us to be happy with the results of last week’s elections. While nobody got everything they hoped for, at the same time, things didn’t turn out as badly as we had feared. You notice I can say that about all of us, regardless of party affiliation. Some Republicans won, and some Democrats won. That’s how democracy works, especially when the voters are as evenly divided as they seem to be at this point. No party got a mandate to take over and kick everybody else to the curb. Yay!
I say this even though, at the time I’m writing this, it is not known which party will hold the majority in either the House or the Senate. Honestly, though that’s important, it actually doesn’t matter in terms of some of the actions we can start to take now.
Let’s use Texas as an example, where there is no ambiguity about the results of the elections: Texas reaffirmed that it is going to continue to be red, no doubt about it. So how is this good news for those folks who wanted to see more Democratic victories?
Well, now that the Republicans don’t have to worry about the Evil Democrats taking over their state, perhaps we can be more reasonable about some of the controversial issues that demanded total Republican loyalty leading up to the election. Considering bipartisan solutions to problems that affect all Texans might not have to be a hanging crime after all.
Let’s take education, for instance. The majority of Texans want to support and strengthen public education in Texas, for the sake of our future ability to adapt and compete in a changing world. Rural Texans, as red as they may be, do not support the idea of giving public school funds to private schools, and further diminishing the already struggling public school system. Now that the leaders of Texas government are not fighting for their political lives, rural Republicans can let them know that vouchers are NOT what is needed to educate our children. We can say NO!
Similarly, regarding healthcare, when Texans are not being asked who they are going to vote for, they can admit that they are bothered by much of the focus of recent legislative actions. They want healthcare decisions to be made between individuals and their doctors. Many doctors are dismayed by the options being dictated to them by politicians. This is not ethical or moral! And if you’re a parent, and you have a child who is struggling with problems that are nobody else’s business but between you, your child, and your doctor, do you really think the state should tell you how those problems should be handled? The irony (funny but not funny) is that somehow the same politicians will scream about individual rights if you want to raise the age at which that same child can buy an assault rifle, from 18 to 21.
The problem of immigration can benefit from calmer evaluation as well. Now that you know the Democrats aren’t going to take over Texas, it can be a little safer to actually examine the facts about immigration laws rather than just screaming “Open Borders!!” every time the subject comes up. There are numerous laws in place that dictate processes by which prospective immigrants can be evaluated; those laws can’t be enforced, or even usefully changed, if all we hear are two sides saying either “Let everybody in” or “Let nobody in”. We must find ways to separate those increasing numbers of people who are fleeing oppression and poverty, and seeking to immigrate legally, from those who are not seeking stability and have no interest in following the law. This can be done if we view it as a shared responsibility and acknowledge that both categories of immigrants exist.
The loudest voices are not necessarily the ones that represent the majority, but it takes a lot to stand up to extremists when there’s nobody supporting the middle path. The midterm election results have shown us that there is a middle path and that the American people want their representatives to be willing to work together to get some important stuff done. We have a little bit of breathing room now, where we can actually ask our representatives to do what WE think is important, and not make all of us have to pass loyalty tests every five minutes.
I really believe that the majority of Americans, and the majority of Texans, want reasonable and realistic compromises to solve problems that impact all of us, even if we don’t have kids, or we have good insurance, or we don’t live in a border city. We really are in this together, and we can find solutions together, if we let our newly elected officials know what we really want from them.
Susan Hull is a retired psychologist, horse trainer and Independent voter who recently passed the three-year mark for living full time in Bandera, and wouldn’t have it any other way, except for the property tax thing.