"I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress" — Frederick Douglass
I have no major complaints about the representation that Sheila Jackson Lee has provided in her 22 years in Congress. Nobody has represented TX-18 longer in its 44 years of existence, and voters in her district keep sending her back with huge majorities. After all, the district that Rep. Jordan created in 1971 to assure black representation in Congress has now been gerrymandered to assure a Democratic supermajority.
And Then There's Bartley
But this post is not about Kleven or Jackson Lee. It's about their Republican opponent Lori Bartley. I didn't bother to look up any information about Bartley until yesterday, after seeing her campaign sign that touts her as a "Frederick Douglass Republican." Ye godz, if only the Republican Party of today acted, wrote, and spoke more like Frederick Douglass!
Bartley's great-great-grandfather Matthew Gaines, a contemporary of Douglass, was a state senator in Texas during Reconstruction. Seriously, click his name and read about him. This is an inspiring bit of history.
It's also inspiring to note that the few thousand Republican primary voters in TX-18 have finally chosen an African American woman to run against Jackson Lee. Seriously, there were fewer than 17,000 votes cast on the Republican side for that seat. Bartley received 104 more votes than runner-up Reggie Gonzales, then defeated him in a runoff 1,491 to 1,096. So 0.75% of the registered voters in TX-18 voted in the Republican Primary Runoff.
One of these years, the Harris County Green Party will find an African American man or woman willing to run as a Green in Barbara Jordan's district. So far we've had 2014 nominee Remington Alessi, a white Occupier who has unofficially abrogated his whiteness, and Kleven, a white civil rights and anti-war activist of Jewish lineage.
Because the terms Republican and Democrat don't really mean much to begin with, as applied to our political factions, and because of the ways in which both parties have evolved, the term Frederick Douglass Republican means even less. Bartley apparently believes that Douglass's dream of Black liberation and empowerment will come through "school choice," no reproductive choice, gun rights, and what she calls "a free-market system of government."
I can't wrap my head around that last one. True, even educated Americans often conflate political and economic systems, but no nominee from any party should have that phrase on his or her website or printed material.
Bartley's screed on the 10th Amendment is the highlight of the issues page on her website, IMHO. She misinterprets the 10th in much the same way Ted Cruz does, believing that most of what Congress has done in its existence, especially since the New Deal, has been unconstitutional. An excerpt:
Our Founding Fathers created the Federal Government for two purposes and two purposes only; (1) to protect our liberty, and (2) to serve the people.
No more and no less. The power to decide what is best for individuals and individual States should be left to individuals and individual States. If you don’t like the rules of a particular State then move to one more suited to your liking.
Just two examples: First, what would Bartley have said about the Feds enforcing desegregation of public schools in the South in the 1950s and '60s? Second, despite the 13th Amendment, without federal workplace safety regulations and the Fair Labor Standards Act, states could allow employers to create working conditions that resemble slavery in many ways—or that discriminate against workers based on ethnicity, sex, age, religion, or other factors. Is the Federal Government out of place in preventing such practices?
That whirring sound you're hearing is Mr. Douglass spinning in his grave.