Mostly, the meeting gave members a chance to chat with some candidates and choose their delegates to next weekend's state meeting in San Antonio.
Sigh. Once upon a time, the Harris County Green Party could run a meeting that accomplished a lot and left attendees feeling energized afterward. Even when some members occasionally used meetings as soapboxes for their pet issues, we got stuff done.
Now that I have signed into an Our Revolution meeting, apparently I'm a member of something. Do I feel sufficiently jazzed by the experience to want to pour my blood, sweat, and tears into OR? Nah. But even if I have lingering suspicions about it being just another way to keep wayward progressives voting for Democrats, I must respect the way they ran this meeting and the group's sense of purpose.
In case you're not familiar with OR, it is in fact a national organization, assembled from the remnants of Senator Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign, with national direction former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner (inter alios). Its main purpose, on the surface, is finding and developing progressive candidates. It has chapters in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Alberta.
ORTX has 11 regional chapters, and the regionals may divide into sub-regions by whatever geographical considerations they deem appropriate. The Gulf Coast chapter encompasses Harris County and 11 others in the vicinity: Austin (Sealy), Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hardin, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller, and Wharton. Today only Harris, Brazoria, Fort Bend, and maybe Galveston had representatives in the room.
If you're wondering what ORTX considers "progressive," here are some sample bullet points copied directly from its Who We Are page:
- A Minimum Living Wage of $15
- Medicare for All
- Getting Big Money out of Politics
- Addressing Climate Change and Environmental Issues
- Workers Rights on the Job
- An End to Hateful State Legislation such as SB4 and SB6
- Expanding Medicaid, Social Security, and other Programs
As my comrade Socratic Gadfly has pointed out, this is a good start down the road to a progressive revolution. But where is there any mention of foreign policy? Sure "addressing climate change" has foreign policy implications if you squint just right: it will absolutely require international cooperation, but it's not explicitly a matter of foreign relations.
While I'll grant that Texas has no official authority on issues of war or trade, we do have elections this year for 37 seats in the US House and Senate where decisions on these issues are made. I want to know our progressive Congressional candidates' foreign policy prescriptions. Thankfully, the national OR site has a little position paper on Foreign Policy that leans far to the left of the average Democratic Congresscritter.
By my count, 16 candidates (or their surrogates) for a variety of public offices, from Governor to Justice of the Peace, were among the 50-60 at this afternoon's standing-room-only gathering. Candidates who were already members of ORTX Gulf Coast were allowed 90 seconds to make their condensed pitches. Non-members were permitted a few seconds to announce their names and the offices for which they are running this year.
The only Green candidate to make an appearance was Jan Richards (website pending). Two-time Democratic Congressional nominee Kesha Rogers, running as an independent for US House District 9 this time, had a surrogate in attendance. On some matters, such as defense policy, Lyndon LaRouche acolytes are progressive, I suppose. The other 14, mostly Sanders campaign veterans, are running in Democratic primary races. I will not list them all by name here, but I will mention two whose elevator speeches caught my ear.
Hector Morales, TX-29: As I pulled into the parking lot facing Sul Ross Street, behind St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, I found schoolteacher Congressional candidate Hector Morales. I directed him and his friend to the Havens Center, where we arrived just as the meeting was starting (on time, hallelujah!). Morales wore his campaign t-shirt, not the jacket and tie he sports in his website photo. Sartorial considerations aside, he gave a very conversational 90-second spiel: not obviously rehearsed, devoid of crutch words, and subtly seasoned with progressive buzz-phrases like "free state college tuition." Morales is in a crowded field of potential successors to Rep. Gene Green, the seat's only occupant since its creation in 1992. I can't vote for him unless I move a few miles east, but I wish him well.
Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge: The other impressive appearance was that of Lina Hidalgo. Barring anything unforeseen, she has the Democratic nomination for County Judge locked up, as the only other primary candidate has withdrawn from the race. Let's hope she doesn't succumb to Judge Ed Emmett's charm offensive the way Ahmad Hassan did in 2014. The only chance the Democrats really have in that race is to run a loud and proud progressive, since Emmett is a notorious moderate who occasionally talks a liberal line. But in addition, she has flood management at the top of her list of issues, taking the Republican-majority Commissioners Court to task for not being prudent enough on fixing the dams or strict enough on real estate developers in light of the last three years' catastrophic flooding.
I have already reached out to Hidalgo's campaign to inquire about helping, but I'll wait to dive in until at least June, after the Green Party's ballot access drive. I could fix a few boo-boos on her website well before then. Before joining her team, I have some policy questions that I'd like to ask her, person to person. An interesting footnote: Hidalgo appears in this Time article about women running for office this year. The word "progressive" appears several times in the article, but, as PDiddie recently observed, just being a feminist (or righteously pissed about the 2016 presidential election) doesn't check all the progressive boxes. To paraphrase Iñigo Montoya, I'm not sure that it means what the authors think it means.