Texas Democratic Convention Remarks
Friday, June 17, 2016
You know those nights in the middle of a campaign when it’s late and the crew has come back from canvassing and block walking. Everyone gathers at campaign headquarters and out comes the pizza and the beer. And who is there? It’s you guys.
Tonight we’re hearing a lot about federal and statewide issues. And that’s great, but it’s at the local level where stuff gets done. You guys are the precinct chairs, the community leaders, he local advocatesnd the activists. You guys are the boiler room and the folks at the frontline.
The theme of this convention is that “Texas Democrats are on the side of hard-working Texas families.” But this puts me in a tough spot.
You see, I’m the Mayor of Austin. And, if I limited my efforts to advocating only on behalf of hard-working Texas families, I’d be ignoring a really significant part of my constituency.
I mean, Austin is where 20-somethings would go to retire. And many of those folks, the slackers, they’re still around.
The part of the whole “hard-working Texas families” thing I can get behind in Austin is the working part. Yes, we do have problems with rising housing prices and traffic congestion. But we also have an unemployment rate of 2.9%.
Now, they told us that if Barack Obama would be elected President, that we’d fall into a worldwide economic depression. And then they told us that if he were re-elected, that we’d never get our jobs back, and gas would be expensive forever.
Well, gas now costs about $2 a gallon.
The jobs are back, too. Democrats are good for people and for the economy.
Only in a city controlled by Democrats does a guy walking around in a thong become one of Austin’s most treasured citizens. But the fact that this snappy dresser was honored and even ran for mayor. This is tied to the same spirit and values that have helped make Austin one of the best cities in the country to find a job, buy a house, and start a business. It’s because Democrats care about what is most important.
In this Democrat stronghold, we have gender neutral bathrooms at city hall, and somehow this has not stopped us from having the most start-ups per capita in the country.
The same creative folks that first used the slogan “Keep Austin Weird” to promote local small businesses — now watch as we’ve become the best city in the country in which to start a small business.
Turns out being weird is good for business. Austin is 7% of the Texas population but 1/3 of the patents and over 50% of the Venture Capital.
What is weird to some is home to tolerant, progressive, caring, and committed people. It’s home to Democrat.
Austin may be the blueberry in the tomato soup, but Texas and Texans need a bowl full of blueberries.
It turns out being inclusive, ensuring opportunity and access, providing a safety net, are all good ways to go about your business – and electing Democrats is the best way to get that done.
When you’re not trying to kick people out of our common family or divide us to score political points, then you can focus on what’s really important to people.
We’ve got bad traffic, so my Council and I are soon to propose the biggest transportation bond in our city’s history. It would reduce traffic, increase transit, build complete and walkable communities, and protect bicycles and pedestrians. When we do our jobs, everybody wins.
We’ve got an affordability crisis, so we are taking the tax increment revenue from our downtown and other growth around the City, and put it into an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. We’ve set up transfers into that fund of more than $100 million over the next ten years. When we do our jobs, everybody wins.
We’re building a firewall against gentrification. And that’s the most beautiful Wall you’ve ever seen! Believe me! And we’re going to make Round Rock pay for it!
So how are we keeping Austin weird? By electing Democrats. By focusing on what most matters to people. To be honest, we were so focused on transportation and housing that we completely forgot to legislate about who
s allowed to pee in which bathrooms.
I testified last year before the Texas Senate to defend a Fair Housing ordinance Austin passed. At the committee hearing, before I started my testimony, the Republican Senator told me: “local control is not absolute” and that he “could identify tyranny wherever he found it – be that the Middle East or Austin, Texas.” Really? Tyranny?
Our country is so fortunate that this year’s Democratic presumptive presidential nominee has had a career of keeping her eyes on what’s important. She is the most qualified presidential candidate in history. And while my wife, Diane, is an incredible role model for our three girls, I can’t wait for them to watch a woman sworn in as President of the US.
Meanwhile, the Republicans have taken a different route by nominating Donald Trump, who is, unfortunately, re-defining the word “weird.”
I hate he’s trying to take that word away from us.
Donald Trump has become so unpopular that the meanest thing you can call him is “Donald Trump.”
Of course, most people don’t realize it, but Donald Trump is actually quite popular in Austin. Not for any of his policy positions. that he’s burnt orange.We just like
His policy positions are a little out there. His foreign policy ideas make Dick Cheney look responsible. I fear that if he were President, all North Korea would have to do to draw us into a nuclear conflict would be for Kim Jong-um to tweet that Trump has tiny hands.
I am trying real hard to resist some local calls to retire the unofficial city slogan of “Keep Austin Weird” because the word “weird” is becoming so synonymous with the Republican presidential nominee.
Some are saying that we’ve got to re-brand our City.
So here are some early contenders for an alternative slogan:
“Austin: It’s Like Vegas, Except People Want to Actually Attend the Conferences.”
“Austin: You Should Have Been Here Five Years Ago.”
Or, my favorite:
“Austin: It’s Where the Democrats Make Government work.”
You make government work!
Texas Democrats, have a great convention, and let’s get out there and work every day until election day to make sure the unthinkable doesn’t happen.