Democrat or Republican? Heck, yeah, it matters! 

Lupe Valdez, Democratic candidate for governor, and U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, vying for the U.S. Senate, at the Texas Democratic Party convention in Fort Worth on June 23, 2018. Photo by Joan Brook for The Texas Tribune

For Texans, this midterm election will be the most consequential in a lifetime. Texans know that politicians can sometimes be prone to exaggeration — especially around election time or when they are talking about inauguration crowd sizes — but I’m not exaggerating.

Even without the presidency on the ballot, voters are deciding the future of Texas and our country for generations to come. And the alternatives have never been more stark: Country before party, progress before politics, hope over fear, and Whataburger over White Castle.

The Texas Legislature used to be a place that understood the importance of working together to help working families, a place where values mattered — but lately, some Republicans have lost their way. They’ve traded common-sense legislating for partisan politics. That hasn’t been good for the Legislature, but it’s been even worse for Texas families.

Democrats are ready to get the Texas House and Texas headed back in the right direction — to focus on issues that actually matter to families and job creators across our great state.

For example, despite controlling all levels of state government, Republican legislators have done nothing to stop out-of-control property taxes from piling more financial burdens on to the backs of Texas families.

Way back in 1994, when the state was paying for 45 percent of public education— today it’s down to 38 percent— George W. Bush, then a candidate for governor, understood what less state spending meant for property owners: “That is why we have property taxes on the rise in every single school district in the state of Texas.” Republican Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley gets it, too, as he explained earlier this year that higher property taxes were driven by the Republican-controlled Legislature’s failure to pay its share of public education costs.

The alternatives are stark — that’s where extreme Republican leadership has gotten us. But Texas Democrats are committed to fighting for real property tax relief and fixing public education funding; after all, those are Texas kids in those schools and we want them to have the best education in the nation. Currently, Texas ranks 40th in public education, and 36th in per student spending.

On healthcare, Republicans are leading the charge to eliminate protections for millions of Texans with pre-existing conditions. Since 2009, Republicans in Washington voted over 50 times to eliminate those protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading a multi-state lawsuit to undo the ACA, jeopardizing health care for a quarter of adult Texans who have pre-existing conditions.

Just last year, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz authored legislation that would have undermined protections for Texans with pre-existing conditions. One expert called his amendment "a recipe for instability and discrimination."

Of course, that’s not what he’s saying today about Texans with pre-existing conditions; he’s trying to get re-elected. 

On the other hand, you can count on Texas Democrats to keep fighting to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions, to expand Medicaid and to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for all Texans.

Republicans are unsuccessfully trying to sell Americans on the $1.5 trillion federal tax cuts that disproportionately benefit corporationsspecial interests and investors. Meanwhile, real wage growth is grinding to a halt under President Trump. The Republicans' tax plan has us headed toward a fiscal cliff, with the federal deficit up 17 percent to $779 billion, the most since 2012, and the national debt growing to over $21 trillion.

How can they afford to do that? Well, Republicans are planning to cut Americans’ Social Security and Medicare to pay for their tax bill and for their ballooning deficit.

Texas voters have always known where Democrats stand on protecting Social Security and Medicare. A promise made should be a promise kept, and we will fiercely defend Social Security and Medicare so Americans can retire with dignity — and with health care — after a lifetime of work.

Trump’s tariffs and trade wars have undercut our economic growth. U.S.farmersmetal-workers and consumers are feeling the pressure of higher prices. This year, Texas companies paid $654 million more in tariffs between June and August over the same timeframe last year — a 142 percent increase courtesy of Trump's trade war.

On immigration, voters will decide if we should be a country that separates families at the border or if we should reform our immigration laws to reflect our best American values. Texas Democrats are leading the charge for compassionate immigration reform, because we know our diversity and immigrant story makes our communities, our economy, our state and our country stronger.

Texas is the greatest state in the greatest country in the history of the world. But we have to get back to basics by putting people over politics and governing with the goal of actually getting things done.

Vote Democrat in November. Then let’s celebrate at Whataburger!

César Blanco

State Representative, District 76