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KATHERINE WILLIAM.S BENEFITS N iNG KIR SMALL BUSINESSES employee benefit and retirement planning solutions for 5-oo+ business owners, professionals and individuals. 4505 Spicewood Springs Rd. Suite 305 Austin, Texas 78759-8541 -9944 [email protected] The Life and Times of Judge Graham Purcell by Ted Buss As a young Democratic Congressman from Texas, Purcell quickly fell under the guiding wing of then Vice-President Lyndon Johnson. Read Purcell’s firsthand experience of the most gripping moments in the 60s and 70s as they are recounted in this poignant biography. To order call 512.472.3636 or go online to Persidea ‘ SHIPPING Mention this ad versidea and _ receive free FREE When you call shippi ng/ /Al; g ;Net ,\\:,Eihcon purce u ICY ted Buss inequality, in turn, would create concentrations of wealth and power that undermine the political process. But again, de Tocqueville thought he saw the antidote. He believed America’s intermediate institutions curbed this inclination by connecting us and helping us understand the social nature of our existence and development, thereby enlarging our vision of self-interest and our vision of life. He believed these institutions would challenge us to think beyond that which is immediate and narrowly individual. The deterioration of the institutions that cultivate these capacities and care for the Common Good has been welldocumented, not just in Texas but around the nation. We are at a point in the life of our stateand our societythat we must look beyond candidates and elections to build alliances between people who are concerned about families, work, and schools. Meaningful democratic engagement requires stronger relationships and institutionsin some cases entirely new networks of relationships and institutions. Saul Alinsky, founder of the Industrial Areas Foundation, reminded us more than 50 years ago that believing in democracy requires the belief that with the right information and the capacity to understand and engage in argument around that information, at least 51 percent of the people will make the right decision. While making the right information available is critical, as citizens we must commit to much more. Most important, it is incumbent upon us as citizens concerned about the future of Texas to recommit to revitalizing the civic culture that justifiably impressed de Tocqueville. It is our obligation as citizens to build the institutions through which we can develop the capacity to engage one another in the kind of relationships and debates that are requisite for the functioning of a democratic society. Ernesto Cortes, Jr. is the Executive Director of the Southwest Region of the Industrial Areas Foundation. He has been awarded the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant for his work in community organizing. 11-11appej Barthd.av and keep up the good work! Texas Public Interest Research Group .1$4,0,it ,gp440.40–xe’ Celebrating 20 Years Of Advocacy 1984 ‘public* ihzen 2004 20c .; In the Lone Star State! 07 WWW. ci tizen org/ texas 512.477.1155 Member of Earth Share of Texas Bravo to The Texas Observer! Representative Elliott Naishtat 12/3/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 45