“We Can't Win What We Won't Fight For:” For Texas Progressives, It Is Time to Believe

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This year, I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to Netroots Nation, thanks in no small part to many of you. I went all the way to Detroit to meet activists from around the country, and found myself reminded now more than ever why this election is so important to our state.

Here at Burnt Orange Report, we have a narrowly defined and purposeful focus: Texas politics. It can be easy to get so wrapped up in the hard battles we're fighting here everyday that we start to feel alone, but at Netroots Nation, I was reminded by none other than Elizabeth Warren that we are all a part of something bigger.

More on Elizabeth Warren's keynote address and the importance of progressive belief below the jump.Netroots Nation brings progressive activists from across the country together every year to make connections, attend trainings, and learn from panelists and keynote speakers. But the most important service Netroots Nation provided me was a reminder that I am not alone, and neither is the Texas progressive movement.

We aren't alone in the Lone Star State. We are a part of a larger body of people who are fighting every day across the country for a better, more progressive America. Keynote speaker Elizabeth Warren reminded us of this when she addressed the conference on Friday. “We will fight,” Warren said, “and we will win.” But, before we can get to these progressive victories, we have to know exactly what we believe.

As progressives, we spend a lot of time talking about what we know. We know the statistics about the safety of abortion procedures. We know the exact differences in earnings broken down by race and gender across the country and in every state. We point to scientific evidence of climate change and the studies that predict the danger of our unchanged reliance on fossil fuels. But, what do we believe?

We tend to allow belief to be the purview of the right. They have beliefs about plenty of things – who can get married, when life begins, and even whether evolution is scientifically sound. And they win Supreme Court cases because of these beliefs. But conservative Americans aren't the only ones who are willing to fight for what they believe in, and it is about time that progressives start thinking about the things that matter to us. Warren challenged us to remember exactly what it is we stand for:

We believe – I can't believe I have to say this in 2014 – we believe in equal pay for equal work, and we're willing to fight for it. We believe that equal means equal and that's true in marriage, that's true in the workplace, that's true in all of America, and we're willing to fight for it. We believe immigration has made this country strong and vibrant and that means reform – we are willing to fight for it. Oh, and we believe that corporations are not people – that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it.

Warren acknowledged that not every fight would be a victory, saying, “We don't win every time. But we're learning to win. We're learning to win, and we will keep winning. We will fight and we will win.” This resonates in an especially strong way with the recent history of progressive Texans, who fought back last summer and had the first real win in recent memory for reproductive justice. The idea that progressive Texans were few and far between was proven wrong as folks from across the state refused to remain silent, because this was a battle about belief, and one we refused to lose without a fight.

We are not alone in this country, but we do face a battle unique to our state, and for us, a final quote from Warren rings true: “We can't win what we won't fight for.” After attending Netroots Nation and being inspired by people who are in the same struggle across the country motivated by our belief in a better, more progressive future for all, my belief in Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte is stronger than ever. It's time to fight for what we believe in, and this fight goes straight to the ballot box.  

About Author

Genevieve Cato

Genevieve Cato is a feminist activist and a native Texan. While not writing for the Burnt Orange Report, she can be found working for State Rep. Mary Gonzalez under the pink dome, serving as a community member of the Communications Committee for the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, and drinking copious amounts of pretentious local craft beers.

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