I would like to offer my congratulations to David Jennings of Big Jolly Politics, which was recently recognized as one of 2013’s best state-based political blogs by The Fix in a national contest held by The Washington Post. I commend David for his continuing efforts to ensure honesty, integrity, and transparency in government. I also appreciate David’s continuing efforts calling for the Republican Party to reach out to minority groups and to welcome them into the Republican Party itself. David has been a big help to me in my personal efforts to connect Republicans with the Latino community.
While debate continues on how the Republican Party should accomplish this task, to me it is simple: the Republican Party needs to reach out to minority groups with the only motive being a heart-felt sense of concern for the well-being of these groups. That is it. Politics should not play into the equation. In my opinion, if the Republican Party goes into minority communities to participate in these communities expecting a quid pro quo, individuals in these communities will immediately see through these “good” intentions and the low credibility with which the Republican Party is held will be further damaged. The issue is one of trust, and the only way trust can be established by the Republican Party is to involve itself with minority groups and their neighborhoods with no motive other than to show it cares and desires to get to know, interact with, and represent the interests of the individuals in these communities. If the Republican Party does this, the politics will take care of itself.
Let me give you an example: Although I grew up in Southwest Houston, for approximately the last seven years I have been involved with, and am now vice-chair, of the Tejano Center for Community Concerns, Inc., a non-profit organization established in 1992 in Houston’s East End. (The TejanoCenter was created to strengthen low-income families in the East End by offering opportunities for children and their parents to better themselves through education, social and health services, and community development initiatives.) Like many others who are involved in their own voluntary community activities, I got involved with the TejanoCenter simply out of a concern for helping those less fortunate than me. That was, and continues to be, the ONLY reason I got involved. However, when I decided to run for HarrisCounty family court judge in the 2010 Republican primary, many of my Democrat colleagues supported me in my run, financially and otherwise, even though they knew I was a long-time Republican. One of the things that mattered to them was that I was involved in the community and that I cared. Other Democrat colleagues of mine who participated in other organizations in which I am or have been involved that serve the Latino community here in Houston also offered their support to me as well. Many Democrats told me that if I was successful in my Republican primary run that they would help get me elected in the general election. Imagine that! Democrats working to get a Republican elected to office!
For those who think that I got this support simply because I am Hispanic, you would be wrong. Minority communities are smarter than that. A Latino Democrat is no more inclined to vote for a Republican just because he or she is Hispanic any more than a white Republican would be inclined to vote for a Democrat simply because he or she is Anglo. What mattered was that I was involved in, and cared about, the Latino community. Let me give you examples of Republicans who hold office and are “doing it right”: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and his wife Gwen, who have been longtime supporters of the Tejano Center and are held in high regard by my Democrat colleagues on the board and the community we serve because of their contributions to what we do at the Tejano Center. Undertaken, I might add, without any discussion of party politics. Likewise, one of our newest members of the State Board of Education, Donna Bahorich, who was recently elected chair of the School Initiatives Committee, visited the TejanoCenter a few weeks ago to learn about our charter school. Again, there was no discussion of party politics but only a sincere desire by both Donna and TejanoCenter board members and staff present to do whatever was necessary to further enhance the educational opportunities available for all children. I can assure you that, after that wonderful meeting, Donna has found a friend in the TejanoCenter.
I conclude by mentioning a story I read in the Houston Chronicle on February 17 of this year reporting about a Cuban mother and her two children who were recently granted political asylum in the United States and settled in Sugar Land, Texas. Although a local Catholic Church in Sugar Land donated food, furniture, and gifts to this mother and her children, this is what the young mother said about the experience:
“… we appreciate everything the church has done for us, everything they have given to my daughters, but what we really appreciate is the feelings. The way they treated our daughters and the other kids, the way they were so excited to see us and (were) interested in us. That’s what we appreciate most, all the kindness and love they share with us.”
It is as simple as that.