Friday, September 16, 2011

Texas Democrats

I have always heard of Mother Jones magazine, but never actually read it until recently. In my next post, I am going to recommend an article from that magazine. It is an article that seems pertinent to the recent thread of posts to this blog. But in the meantime, it is sort of interesting how I even came to read an issue for the first time.

I tease my mom that if you look up “flaming liberal” in the dictionary, one might find her picture. This is funny to me for a number of reasons, one of which is the fact that she lives in Texas. My home state doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being the home of flaming liberals.

Indeed, when I was practicing law in Texas, I was a semi-closeted Democrat. With regard to non-GOP political affiliations, within my social circle, things were generally on a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” basis. Everyone assumed everyone else was a Republican, and you didn’t volunteer your political tilt if you were not.
In our family, there is an infamous anecdote that exemplifies this experience. At a neighborhood cocktail party in early 2001, my husband mentioned in passing that I had voted for Al Gore. I still question how that fact was at all relevant to anything that had come up in the conversation. And I have always been unsure why he only mentioned the person for whom I had voted. Indeed, my husband had also voted for Mr. Gore. Nonetheless, for whatever reason, my husband innocently and naively spilled the beans—inadvertently outting me at the neighborhood cocktail party.

When he did so, I was several yards away chatting with some other neighbors. It was like one of those old E.F. Hutton commercials from the 70s. Everyone in the room stopped and looked at me with dropped jaws. One gentleman was sincerely flabbergasted and asked in a loud, puzzled tone, “Claudine, why would you have done such a thing?” He just couldn’t fathom. And from then on, the neighbors seemed to think I was a nice but misguided woman.

Interestingly, during the same time and up to the present, while in the same state, my mom surrounded herself with senior citizen women with a decidedly progressive bent. That just astounds me. When we lived in Texas, we only knew a couple other Democrats. Indeed, there were so few in our community that on one primary day, I showed up at the Democratic polling place and the election workers were so delighted to just have someone come to vote. It was almost closing time and they had only had a handful of Democrat primary voters all day. It had apparently been a boring day.

After I voted, they asked if I wanted to sign up for the local Democratic Party distribution list. They were going to have a potluck so folks could meet one another. My gosh, there were so few of us that we apparently would all fit in one family’s living room!

Anyhow, my mom must have a sixth sense for finding Democrats because she has quite a few friends who are openly progressive. They are sweet ladies who do volunteer work with the homeless, participate in walks to raise money to fight hunger, sew quilts to donate to soldiers’ families, and went to hear Bill Clinton when he came to town for a lecture.

On a recent visit to our home in Arizona, my mom brought me a stack of magazines she had finished reading. She included a copy of Mother Jones with the address label of a friend of hers. The friend is apparently a subscriber. I had heard of the magazine, but did not know much about it and had never seen it on sale anywhere. I just had this vague sense that it was an ultra-left wing periodical that was probably only read by people who wear clothing made from hemp, are into composting, and bake their own granola. As a result, it surprised me that I first received a copy of the magazine via a straight-laced senior citizen who lives in suburban Texas. That should teach me to not think in such stereotypes!

2 Chronicles 1:10

Give me wisdom and knowledge so I can lead this people, because no one can govern this great people of yours without your help.”

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