Lessons Learned – or Not


So, last week we had a big election. Obviously, I was pleased with most of the outcomes, from the presidential race on down, but what did we learn from it?


For one, politicians who have a cavalier attitude about women’s health care and personal health decisions will pay a heavy price at the ballot box.


Second, with significant demographic changes underway – particularly in the Hispanic community – Texas will be competitive in statewide elections and presidential elections very soon. With Hispanics in Texas and across the country giving President Obama 70 percent of the vote, Republican politicians would be smart to cease their cynical attacks on immigrants and their families.


Finally, we saw that candidates who were willing to stand up for our schools and against the divisive rhetoric we hear out of Austin could be successful in the face of well-financed, negative Republican campaigns. That’s why Tarrant County is sending Wendy Davis back to the Senate to represent us and why voters ended the Republican supermajority in the Texas House by electing seven new or returning Democratic members. With 55 House members, Democrats will be better positioned to stop the GOP assault on public education, health care and voting rights, but we have our work cut out for us.


And that brings me to lessons unlearned. I’ve talked a lot in this campaign about what voters in District 101 – and I think all over Texas – want. They want good schools to send their kids to, with up to date materials and classrooms that are not overcrowded. They want basic access to affordable health care. And they want a strong economy with good jobs – and that means a Texas that makes wise investments in transportation and water resources.


Now, let me tell you what I have never heard a voter ask me to do:


Drug test people when they lose their jobs


Ban so-called “sanctuary cities,” which we know do not exist


Take even more money out of public schools to fund private school vouchers


Interfere with homeland security measures at our airports


Yet, these are the “issues” that Republican leaders, from Governor Perry on down, tell us are the priority items facing our state. I disagree – and I think the voters do, as well.


So, when the Legislature convenes in January, my Democratic colleagues and I will be pushing to restore the $5.4 billion the GOP cut to public schools. We’ll be working to get health care access to the one quarter of our population that is uninsured. And we’ll be working to make long-term, smart investments in our state, in job training, transportation, energy and water.


Hopefully, Republican leaders have learned some lessons and will join us in these efforts. If not, the voters may have to take them back to school.