Thank you to State Rep. Celia Israel for this guest post! Elected officials are encouraged to post in our user diaries and share their thoughts with the BOR readership.
As we recover from another 4th of July, I am reflecting on what we mean when we talk about being a patriot, and no, not the kind that deflates footballs.
Patriotism is a love and devotion to our country, but what is it that we love? Patriotism cannot just be annual firework shows, flag pins, and a love of college football, can it? Although that’s not a terrible start.
To love our country, I believe you must also have a love for our democracy.
While serving on the Elections Committee, we heard from hundreds of patriotic Texans who waited through hours of testimony for their turn to stand up for our democracy. They fought for common-sense, good government measures to make it just a little easier for Texans to vote. Whether it was an elections administrator from Bexar County, or a retired teacher who now volunteers registering voters, we heard from some pretty inspiring Texans.
Unfortunately, whether it was my bill to make text on vote by mail ballots clearer so fewer seniors and disabled Texans are disenfranchised, or an effort to allow veterans and student IDs to qualify as photo identification at the polls, nearly every effort to make it easier to vote was either unable to move through the Legislature or vetoed by the Governor.
If we really love our country, we cannot afford to stay on this path. When only 25% of eligible Texans cast a ballot for the Governor in 2014, we know our democracy is not living up to its promise.
So after this year’s fireworks and BBQ have faded into memories, let’s all ask ourselves how we can be better Americans. How can we be better Texans? Let’s start loving our democracy again.