Texas can do better

Photo by Austin Price / The Texas Tribune

I wasn’t around for the culture war of the 1960s, but it made us a better nation (with better music). Today, we are teetering on another clash of cultures — this time brought to us by a far-right crusader, Donald Trump. It’s unclear how things will turn out.

In a single year, the president has disappointed his voters who saw him as a vehicle for change. Only 45 percent of Texas voters approve of the job he’s doing . Even conservatives realize he is not making good on his campaign promises. But the president has remained busy, dividing the nation with his Twitter tirades, anti-immigrant policies, whiffs of white nationalism and anti-LGBT fervor.

I’m running for governor of Texas to bring back sanity and hope. Both have gone astray under Trump-style politicians, who divide us and preach an agenda of extremism.

State leaders endorsed Trump and have since praised him for his — now pitiful — commitment to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey. Like Trump, they ignore data and science and attack entire groups of people through unpopular “bathroom bills” and harsh anti-immigrant policies. They seem ready to let Texas’ 120,000 “Dreamers” — those who came to this country as babies and children — be deported.

It’s cultural warfare at its worst. Texas can do better.

State government needs to get back to public service. That means helping all Texans by improving education and healthcare, creating an economic climate that benefits both families and businesses, and revolutionizing our transportation system.

As a small-business owner and common-sense Democrat, my approach to the job of governor is to fix problems, not start new ones. My North Star is bringing people together, helping them live up to their God-given potential, not tearing them apart. I’ll lead by listening to diverse voices but won’t shy away from the courage of my convictions, which are fairness, equality, respect and doing right.

Doing right on education means picking up where my late father, former Gov. Mark White, left off — by paying serious attention to preparing our kids for the future. I will work with anyone who genuinely shares the goal of making Texas a top 10 state for education, as opposed to where we are now: 43rd. Let’s start by attracting and retaining the best teachers with a $5,000 raise, paid for by closing the $5 billion “Equal and Uniform” commercial property tax loophole.

Doing right on health care means actually doing something about Texas having the highest number of uninsured residents in the country. I will lead the effort to expand Medicaid. It’s a $65 billion check with Texas’ name on it. Paying twice for healthcare — which is what we’re currently doing — is the definition of fiscal mismanagement. Not to mention that men, women and children are suffering.

And doing right means taking down the plaque in our Capitol, installed in 1959, that says the Civil War was not about slavery. It also means not remaining silent if now emboldened white supremacists decide to pipe up here like they did in Charlottesville.

Let’s focus on the needs and dreams of everyday Texans. We won’t get stuck in the bathroom or in the garden, where lawmakers decided to tell cities how to manage their trees. When politicians play games, we all lose.

My career has been in business, not politics. I will run our state like you run your household, putting the needs of others first while managing the bottom line. Math and data can guide us to make better decisions. Common sense and decency will solve just about everything else. It’s time to bring sanity back, so all Texans can have hope for a better future.

The main event in today’s culture war is watching the Republican Party figure out what it stands for. Meanwhile, Texas Democrats know who we are and what our values are. We know what we're for and against. And recent wins in Virginia and Alabama show that Democrats have a real shot in any red state against politicians who, like our state leaders, staunchly support Trump. The energy and enthusiasm is on our side.

Let’s keep it up. After 20 years out of statewide office, this is our year.

Andrew White

Candidate for governor