Out of all the many eloquent words uttered by President Obama during his tenure, those three may be the most important. He spoke them directly to then-House Republican Whip Eric Cantor shortly after being elected, but they should be heeded by all of us.
The 2010 elections had huge consequences for Texas schoolchildren. A tidal wave of new lawmakers took office, and most of them had a single agenda: cutting government. The importance and necessity of the program or department being cut was secondary to the huge urgency to reduce expenditures. The mantra was cut first - finding new revenue sources was off the table altogether - and just let the employees of those departments pick up the pieces as best they could.
One of the hardest hit state responsibilities was public education, which suffered $5.4 million in cuts - the first time since World War II that the state failed to account for new enrollment growth our public schools.
Since then, schools have had to scramble and skimp. Requests for class-size waivers exploded, at a time when the state is also implementing higher testing standards. Our children's teachers have been told, even more than in the past, to "do more with less."
This is short-sighted policy that eventually is going to bite us. The future of our children and their education is the lifeblood of our economy.
Thankfully, Texans seem to realize this. A recent poll by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Texas Lyceum revealed that a whopping 74 percent of registered Texas voters said they would be willing to pay more taxes to raise teacher pay. Given the polarization that grips our nation's political landscape these days, that is about as close to unanimous as one could hope for. Solid majorities also said they were willing to pay higher taxes for construction of new schools, computers for the kids, and other investments.
So the question now is: Will that sentiment translate into election results?
With a majority that large, then presumably some of that 74 percent are also the same people who sent the "cuts-only" legislators to Austin in the first place. Now that voters can see the damage that has been done by that sole approach, they need to make sure their November 6 votes accurately represent their desires.
Remember, when you head to the polls, voters will be selecting a lot more than the President. They will be picking many "down-ballot" races as well, including state Senators and Representatives - races that, despite being further down on the ballot, are of great importance to our children.
If we really believe that our schools deserve greater investment, then voters need to put hard questions to those who want to serve. Look past party affiliation - educating our children should not be a D or R issue - and ask those on the ballot: "Will you go into the Capitol with a cuts-only mentality, or will you prioritize education and find the revenue sources necessary to reverse the cuts?"
If voters desire better-funded schools but then elect officeholders who only demand more cuts ... well, elections have consequences.