Page 29


necessarily desirableto have everything come through the party. This is not a criticism of the party; it’s just that we need multiple voices, multiple identities getting people involved. Annie’s List provided support for women candidates. You have Drive Democracy building up a Texan version of . If we look down the road, we will also need an enlightened Catholicism movement, and that wasn’t always an oxymoron. If we don’t have an enlightened Catholic movement, and a more vocal and organizing progressive faith movement, Republicans will continue to chip away at our Hispanic and African American basesmost especially with newly arrived Hispanics who don’t have an historical understanding of discrimination and have a high desire to assimilate. TO: The Republicans have created this moral universe using abortion and other wedge issues. How do they do it? JA: There is coherence to their argument. They are masters of identity projection. For all their complaints about liberal Hollywood, they have a better, more Hollywood-like political strategy. If you go watch a movie where you get to see some hero kick somebody’s ass, you feel better about things. I’ll admit itI do. If you have a shitty state of life with this economy or health care, Republicans give you the chance to say, “I’m married, I do right by God, and we just kicked some Arab’s ass, and I ain’t no gay guy over there.” On our side, we are still just a collection of peopleand I’m not sure what defines that collection. Without Bush, who are we? We have no code words. I write this stuff all the time, and other than “all” and “everybody” I don’t think we have any code words. Is that from an overdose of honesty or a lack of vision and salesmanship? TO: What else needs to be done? JA: What you don’t see is real, honest thinking about where we are headed as a state. Planning for the futurenot thinking about just what’s in front of youis a difficult challenge for a business, and it’s a difficult challenge for a party. And when you are on the defensive, you get into the pattern of how do you make next month’s mortgage payment. We are a party right now that looks at the next legislative session trying to figure out how we survive it. We have some incredible and intelligent legislatorsand unless we provide them support and venues to connect ideas, they will continue to talk about the consequences of the Republicans’ plan without offering an alternative vision. We also need a true realization of how low [Republicans] play. You always have to be prepared for it. I’m not saying we Must stoop, but if there is a gutter, they’ll jump in it. If there isn’t, they’ll dig one. And we can’t hesitate to fight while we worry about our dry-cleaning bill. We need a faith-based anger, a faith-based populism. We have to take on social ills without being for free sex. We have to take on corporate greed without being against those who want to move up the ladder. That means taking on the bastards but doing it in a language of faith. We have to take a stand for work, without being against the belief system that helps so many people get through the day-to-day. When we go to defend choice, we don’t attack teen pregnancy. We will throw it out there, but we don’t go out and attack it. Texas is number one in teen pregnancyand they should have to answer for it. TO: Can a progressive agenda win in 2006? JA: It’s a hard pill for some to swallow, but the big fights that will determine the course of this state will be determined in the Republican primary. For us to be truly competitive, we need the energy and focus of a single-issue candidacy. It’s the power of the negativeyou define yourself by where you draw the line, not by how far you will push the line out. A single-issue candidacy has the potential to create enough heat, redefine the landscape, and avoid the baggage that the responsibility of standing for every issue brings. Frankly, it may be the discipline we need. TO: Anything else to add? JA: Post-election, there’s been a lot of talk about values. It drives progressives mad. My advice is that we need to get over it. Whether moral values was the deciding factor or just one in a long list of factors, we need to address it. Values are what define us. We don’t have to become them, but we do have to articulate who we are. In the presidential debates, Kerry said ad nauseam he would hunt the terrorists down and kill them. Bush never had to say it. It’s time to stop compensating and start taking stock in who we are and demonstrate the courage to share it. Interview with Mustafa Tameez The Texas Observer: What are some of the things we learned from the election? Mustafa Tameez: For Democrats, we live in a state that has a majority of Republicans. If anybody doubts that, take a look at what Bush’s numbers were-61 percent of the people in this state voted for him, a substantially increase from the 2000 numbers. If you are running for a state representative office or a local district city council or a small public office, people have to feel likewhether I am a Republican or a Democrat I know that guy, and by my knowing that guy, I have access to government. That is how you get people to cross party lines. That takes longer. I think campaigns can’t start after Labor Day anymore. From a candidate’s standpoint, if you are going to be running for office for a state-representative type of raceyou need to start a year ahead of time. Also, with such a high early-voting turnout, you no longer can start your turnout operation a few weeks before the election; you have to start moving things up a week or more before early voting begins. TO: Is there a Democratic answer to the values platform Republicans run on? continued on page 16 11/19/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5