By Xavier Miranda
El Paso has been a forgone conclusion in legislative matters; in a state that has been marginalizing a large segment of our community. No need to look further than to Monday’s local headlines: Health, schools lag in El Paso: City weathers recession, but grim data emerge (El Paso Times)
Perhaps the xenophobia that is prevalent in our country not yet knocked on our cocoon; perhaps we’ve grown accustomed to being disregarded by the rest of Texas; perhaps we’re too busy making ends meet, that our family is sacrificed. What is certain is that we are complacent in being third-tier in health care, education, and environmental issues.
I’ve had the privilege of learning of the progressive change implemented by independent community groups. However, the change seems to challenge the status quo: our U.S. Representative is not aware of solar developments that could spur our local economy with local labor and resources; our Texas legislature disregards the toxicity of our water, soil, and air; our school districts face state-budget cuts that will be devastating to our children; and the rising costs associated with health insurance and health care continue to reap profits on corporate interests. Yet, community organizations offset the financial cuts with a dedicated service that epitomizes compassion and dignity. Our community spirit thrives, sustaining our perseverance and dignity.
Democrats and Republicans alike have taken for granted El Paso will deliver a measly 60,000 votes in the mid-term election, thus maintaining the Texas legislature that has longed overlooked us. The thought is, that the newly found Democrats in North Texas, will be offset by the East Texas conservative voting bloc, and the apathetic turnout in El Paso. This is why a handful of us knock on doors, to bring out the voters of the ’08 election. But to ask for more is found to be too intrusive. A local politico suggested I stop imposing expectations of financial contributors knocking on doors or phone banking. Their rationale was, to paraphrase, their influence is felt on levels that are beneath them. This axiom, “money talks,” is at the core of our situation. Business as usual—ironic. I’m not much of a fan of the straight-ticket vote, for it allows corrupt officials in through the front door. Our faith in local partisan groups is now faced with a healthy skepticism, but low levels of engagement.
All said and done, lack of leadership, compounded by apathy, will most likely keep things as they are for El Paso. But if you grow weary of the status quo, join us throughout the month of October in “being the change we’ve been waiting for.” By actually talking to neighbors, you may find a common bond. Your struggles and frustrations are the same as theirs’. More importantly, the solution is in our hands, and that results from utilizing our most powerful tool: OUR VOTE. Please come and join us in being the change. Remember the results inspired by your direct involvement back in 2008.