Jenifer Sarver speaks about getting along with “the other side”

According to Ken Herman’s column in today’s Austin American-Statesman, at a candidate forum featuring thirteen of the eighteen GOP candidates seeking the Congressional seat Lamar Smith is vacating in District 21, contender Jenifer Sarver said, “It’s not a popular primary message to tell you that I want to work with the other side, but I think it’s necessary.”  She also said she’s concerned about the GOP, “because I see a party that’s aging and white, and that’s not the future of our country…. We have a tone that is shutting people out.  Young people are not interested in joining our party.  Women are leaving our party in droves.  And if you look out over this audience it’s a very white crowd here tonight.”  Another candidate Matt McCall filled the silence that followed her response with “We shouldn’t be getting along with the side that wants to kill babies.” He added, “Married women vote Republican…. We don’t have a problem with women.  We have a problem that people aren’t getting married in this country.”

Embedded in these quotes are various challenges of our time that we need to overcome.  The first is thinking of our two major political parties as “sides.”  While each party has its own general strategies as a starting point for making policy, we are all on the same side–the side of the American people.  If the two parties work together, each bringing their strategic points of view and seeking expert opinion along the way, chances increase for producing policies that increase the quality of individual and community life.

Matt McCall demonstrated the tone “that is shutting people out,” with his words, “We shouldn’t be getting along with the side that wants to kill babies.”  No one wants to kill babies.  We do need for office holders, most of whom are male, to grapple with the fact that one-half of babies’ deliveries are paid for by Medicaid and more than one-third are born to single mothers.  The state of affairs in our reproductive health in our nation–including the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country being here in Texas–is appalling.  We keep on allowing new generations of people to be born into poverty. The current administration in the U.S. and in Texas is not showing love for these babies when it ignores the need for health care, quality public education, and a decent environment for all these young lives that join us each day.  Start funding social services appropriately and start making accessible contraception a part of people’s life habit.  Then think of this as a world in which “we” live, not a world in which one side is “Republican” and the other, “Democrat.”  In the meantime, for those of you in District 21 who care about the young children being born into poverty and the mothers  who give birth to them, consider casting your vote in the Democratic primary. While Friends for Civil Action doesn’t endorse candidates, know that I personally am impressed by Joseph Kopser; he strikes me as a savvy strategist who will work for all of us, not just some of us.  Those of us who don’t vote in his district can still consider helping with campaign contributions and volunteer help.

Freedom and “Can we call that treason?”

Early in 2017 I met a woman who  in her past was a political analyst for the CIA in her South American homeland. She now resides in Austin. In the last twelve months, she has sent over three hundred 512Truthseekers emails, sharing her research into stories behind the stories we see in the news, looking at such matters as the impact the Koch Brothers’ investment in far right political candidates and office holders is having in our country. Each email can take many hours to prepare. She is spurred to do this labor-intensive research, in part, because she lived through a shut-down of the media in her own country, witnessing an era when brave women at risk to themselves slipped flyers with truth on them under bags of rice and such in grocery markets.  What is happening in our country is real when it comes to the disruption of the truth.  I am reminded that I continue to be shockable, and that is a good thing.  Yesterday, the President of the United States addressed an employee group giving him a warm reception. Their employer, Sheffer Corporation, enriched by the new tax legislation, had “just awarded each of its 126 employees a one-time bonus of $1,000.” He asked the group a question regarding Congressional Democrats  “stone-faced” reaction to his State of the Union speech.  I heard his words yesterday on NPR and I read them this morning in The New York Times and The Austin American Statesman.  He said, “Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly did not seem to love our country very much.”

I am thankful these words can be reported, still.  I’m concerned that this wasn’t top of the fold, front page headline news.  When the President of the United States can call one of the two major parties in his country potentially treasonous for not warmly embracing his speech, this is a chilling moment in time.  Let us all be careful with our words and work to maintain the value of loving of our neighbors–like us or different from us–a value that is needed if we are to have freedom.


Preparing for the Primaries

Friends for Civil Action has a month of opportunity ahead.  Look for daily posts about what we can do to bring positive change to our world.  Today’s opportunity is to take a look at the website of Joseph Kopser, running for U.S. Congress District 21.   As an informal organization without infra-structure, Friends for Civil Action doesn’t endorse.  What we do is support each other in looking for ways to use our raindrop effect to best advantage.  Supporting Joseph Kopser may be a way to help the shower get started advantageously.  He is in a “battleground” district, one that just might with lots of effort become winnable for him.  He talks about being about people, not party.  Some of us live in his district and some don’t.  Either way, we can direct a contribution to his campaign, if inspired to do so, and we can come up with some good “get out the vote” momentum.

Candidate Forum

In order to prepare for the March Primaries, Friends for Civil Action will host its first candidate forum next week.  Our objective is to learn how we can best be discerning voters, looking for candidates with character, capability, inclusive values, and opportunity to secure office.  This becomes all the more important in crowded primaries. As we move forward, we want to express gratitude to the generous people of character who are willing to stand for office and to serve the public.  While we don’t provide group endorsements to candidates, we are interested in elevating the quality of dialogue between candidates and their constituents.

A Letter To Congress

It’s time for problem solving, not for political posturing.  We should all remember that it is’t not normal for anyone in either party to want to be President of the United States. Thinking that one can lead the country is audacious. Being surrounded by good, able, knowledgeable people who want to find solutions, not just negotiate for political gain, is essential for any President to retain perspective. To get us beyond the deep polarized divide that exists, it’s time everyone remember that the United States is about “we, the people,” not about “us, the people,” and “the others.”

Preparing for the March Primaries

As Friends for Civil Action look forward to their next year of positive political engagement, attention turns to the March Primaries.  We want to learn who are the effective, community-minded candidates who have the best opportunity to keep and take office.  Looking first at the districts in which we vote and next at key races of influence outside our own districts, it’s time to gather good information and get to work.  There are candidates to be supported financially and with volunteer help.

As the New Year Arrives

Many of us saw an increase in our political action during 2017, myself included.  This blog has served as a place-holder in year one of Friends for Civil Action undertaking the Postcard Storm, as we’ve found our way in our postcard writing, telephoning, and making appearances at the Texas Capitol.  In year two, look here for more posts on a regular basis.  I think of Friends for Civil Action as a gathering point of reconciliation and persistence.  I am heartened by all the people I know and the many more I don’t who are taking time out of their weeks to make their support for the common good of people in our communities across America heard.

This week may be a good one to send notes of appreciation to the elected officials who represent us that champion inclusive positions.


Message for any and all of the following: the president, your senators, your congress representative, the U.S. and state attorney generals, the governor, your state senator and state legislator:

I support gun control measures that will keep assault weapons out of private citizens’ hands. I support gun control measures that will allow me to be in public spaces without worrying that private citizens in my vicinity are carrying loaded weapons, concealed or not.

Message protocol. Send and/or call your message. Handwritten, posted mail stands out from the email crowd. Postcards deliver your message quickly and concisely. Phone is timely, but some of us won’t phone.  Provide your name as it appears on your voter’s registration card and your zip code.  Your nine-digit zip helps identify your congressional and state legislator district.  When mailing, provide a return address for post. Provide an email address if you like.

Sending Messages with Love

As the need for The Postcard Storm continues, the value of composing messages from a base of love, rather than from a base of anger gains my front and center attention.  Those of us seeking to help our country maintain a functioning democracy–a grand sounding endeavor, but with some truth in it for all of us thinking so much of the day about politics–need fuel to sustain our political energy.  Personally, anger and frustration wear me out, so I’m leaning on love as my message prompt inspiration.  In the days ahead, you can monitor whether this freshly clarified perspective holds.  It has been a long break–about six weeks–since I last posted.  We’ll see what this new surge of energy brings.  So many of us may want to send a letter of love and appreciation for Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus’s gifted leadership in 2017 which we with Friends for Civil Action believe resulted in our state, for the moment anyway, being a kinder and economically more viable place (a good economy that all can share in is an important kindness) than it would otherwise have been.  We will miss Joe Straus in the role of Speaker.

Thoughts for September 20, 2017

About the President’s address to the U.N. yesterday:  “Me, first,” or “Us, first” doesn’t seem a good way to run our lives or our political rhetoric.  Instead, looking for the point of intersection of mutual interest among all of us might get us closer to world peace and farther from world war.  I favor language and policy that speaks to bringing together the nations of the world that are invested in helping establish a good and healthy community for their peoples, so we can work together rather than trying to be “sovereign.”

About the Affordable Care Act:  Today’s front page story on The New York Times on the bid to repeal the health law ends with this:  “Besides creating block grants, the Graham-Cassidy bill would make deep cuts in Medicaid.  It would end the expansion of eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, which has provided Medicaid coverage to 13 million people.  And it would put the entire program which serves more than 70 million people, on a budget, ending the open-ended entitlement that exists.  States would instead receive a per-beneficiary allotment of federal money.”  Texas actually stands to gain a bit per beneficiary—a sad day when we become the model, since we are near the bottom, along with Mississippi and Alabama, of caring for the health care needs of our people.  In today’s Austin American-Statesman, there’s an Associated Press article that cites, “The Kaiser Family Foundation said that 50% of companies with three to 49 employees offered health insurance this year.  That’s down from 59 percent in 2010 and 66 percent more than a decade ago.”  This is a reminder that there’s work to be done on the Affordable Care Act, shoring up the Affordable Care public marketplaces, which some states have done with success.  There’s work to be done, but it sure doesn’t sound like the Graham-Cassidy bill is the answer, and there are many outstanding questions on a single-payer model, too. Congress, please talk and find a solution to the health care needs of American people, rather than a political posture.  I favor sticking with the Affordable Care Act and improving the parts that aren’t yet working.

About Governor Abbott’s new staffers:  Friends for Civil Action, let’s write a group letter and introduce ourselves and our desire for inclusive policies that reflect our status as residents of our neighborhoods and the world.

About the plaque, titled “Children of the Confederacy Creed” erected in 1959 at the Texas Capitol:  As reported in today’s Austin American-Statesman, this plaque states:  “We, therefore, pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals, to honor our veterans, to study and teach the truths of history (one of the most important of which is that the War Between the States was not a rebellion, nor was it underlying cause to sustain slavery), and to always act in a manner that will reflect honor upon our noble and patriotic ancestors.”  Thank you to Speaker Joe Straus, for your response to these words: “This is not accurate, and Texans are not well-served by incorrect information about our history. Those of us who serve on the State Preservation Board should direct staff to identify the steps necessary to remove this plaque as soon as practicable.” In contrast, Governor Abbott says, “Tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future.”  I say removing monuments to past bigotry from places of honor does advance our nation’s future.  I say no black man, woman or child or anyone of any race should have to pass through a public place where such a monument to the confederacy stands, unless that monument has been given a new context for our new world, recognizing how wrong slavery was and awful bigotry is.

About cutting taxes as an economic stimulus:  I haven’t seen information that speaks to me that demonstrates cutting taxes for the rich–taxes which have been already cut way back from what they used to be–stimulates the economy.  Cutting taxes while adding to the deficit doesn’t seem to be fiscally conservative.  The front page of today’s New York Times, reports: “Senate Republicans, abandoning a key fiscal doctrine, agreed on Tuesday to move forward on a budget that would add to the federal deficit in order to pave the way for a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.”  In September 5th’s Times, David Leonhardt reported that “in the early 1960’s, the typical chief executive at a large American company made only 20 times as much as the average worker, rather than the current 271-to-1 ratio.”  He also noted that legislation signed by Lyndon b. Johnson “lowered the marginal tax rate to 70 percent. Under Ronald Reagan, it dropped to 50 percent and kept falling. Since 1987, the top rate has hovered between 30 percent and 40 percent.”  I oppose tax cuts for the very wealthy and other measures that don’t address the income inequality gap that has resulted in a 271-to-1 earnings ratio for the typical chief executive at a large American company.