I have been trying to get to the Travis County Democratic Campaign Headquarters for the last few weeks, but my company's westward offices and a hectic schedule hasn't allowed it. I was impressed by the crowd when I walked in -- a mixed demographic across the board was gathered in a circular-shape, listening intently to David Kobierowski, who is the TCDP Issues Committee Chair. We went through the issues -- one of the people who was in charge of commenting on the energy crisis said "It reminds me of high school debate class," referring to the three-minute timed discussions for each issue -- and then it was time for Larry Joe Doherty to speak.
Doherty started by referring to the vast size of the district and its general percentage points. He hailed past candidates like Lorenzo Sadun and Ted Ankrum as having helped move the ball forward, citing Ankrum's 2006 poll which showed that 60% of the district had polled at wanting "anyone but McCaul."
But we all know that this is not 2006, and Doherty quickly moved into a rundown of his own numbers and polls, stating that "the winds of change are blowing" and that "when the message gets out, voters will respond." In fact, 40% currently are polling at being in favor of LJD when they connect the dots between him and his "Texas Justice" stint; that number goes up to 45% when they hear he's "that lawyer who sued lawyers!"
Perhaps some of Doherty's strongest points were when he segued into veterans' issues. He pointed out -- after a quick fact check -- that currently 120 war veterans a week commit suicide. One Hundred. And Twenty. A Week. That's a statistic worth taking the time to get the numbers right, which Doherty was careful to do. If you've been keeping up with the Dwyer suicide or "accidental overdose," the issue of PTSD is no small factor in today's world, where we are not only a nation comprised of soldiers suffering from PTSD but also a nation of the men and women left behind dealing with their spouse's PTSD and children dealing with their parent's.
As for benefits coming to veterans more quickly and efficiently, Larry Joe said it best tonight in one sentence: "Justice delayed is justice denied." Doherty's solution is to start an advocacy board for veterans made up of members from across CD-10's counties to appeal to the highest levels against denials to veterans seeking benefits.
After a weekend of star-spangled politicians at Netroots Nation, and various panels pointing out all of the progress that is left to be made by Democrats, I was feeling notably overwhelmed by the process. Where do you start? Holding Bush accountable for torture? Getting mercury out of vaccines to prevent autism? Finding ways to end our addiction to oil? The possibilities for change are endless.
But the easy answer is this: you start here. Local, wherever you've got it, you start. You start in an abandoned grocery store off of I-35. Or in a loft of a campaign office off of Far West making phone calls to people who "don't do computers" or are on their Kubota tractor when you call. Or in the sun in a neighborhood with small front porches and big side yards. In a voter registration drive, or a phone bank, or a block you walk, you start.
You won't find any DC dot-coms at the TCDP headquarters, you won't find swag bags with T-shirts and techie goodies inside and no, you won't find Al Gore. But there's something wholesomely tender about a mixed bag of activists, some with computers, some with pens and paper, and some...well, some just with open ears and determined souls.
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