by Susan Combs
Tuesday in Texas and the nation was historic in several ways. The conservative fiscal message from Republicans resonated across the nation in surprising ways. The traditional ‘blue’ state of Illinois elected its first Republican governor in years, and a national electorate, driven by independents concerned about the economy and Washington’s gridlock sent Republicans to the U.S. Senate in what has been characterized as a ‘wave’.
In Texas, as had been widely expected, Republicans kept all statewide offices. What didn’t happen however was a ‘wave’ of voter participation. In fact it was down. Texas voter turnout fell from about 38% in our last midterm election to about 34% this year. I want to thank all of you who cast ballots, but I’m concerned that the participation isn’t higher.
The overall direction of this great nation was on people’s minds and they are worried. Voters are asking themselves, “Can we have a secure future for our kids? Or for that matter, for me?” Perhaps I am under employed, working in a position below my skills and experience level. I don’t seem to be getting ahead.
Or perhaps I am getting up in years. My income from a lifetime of saving is at a dismal level, and I don’t know what to do about it. And the folks in Washington seem clueless about how to fix an obvious problem.
But one thing is clear. While voters in Texas chose overwhelmingly to continue the leadership that has made Texas a Lone Star Success and the economic envy of the nation, the rest of the country wants a change because they need a change! And Washington has to deliver it. That means what?
First, look for solutions. Stop shifting blame. People of good will and intentions can in fact reach reasonable compromises. Yes, that newly terrible word ‘compromise’. I compromised with my kids when I let them have an extra tortilla chip or two between meals. I thought they had had enough, but I also thought that particular peace was bought at a not so terrible price.
Second, be sure you talk to the other side. You can’t possibly know how to fix anything if you don’t know what the other side is thinking. A blank stare is pretty worthless as a communications tool. Even worse is the angry email fired off to some member of the media, which draws a very big line in the communications sand.
Third, listen to what the American people want. The talking heads are great for sound bites and occasional bits of wisdom, but there is much to be gained and learned from people in your hometown and your neighborhoods and communities. I think you’ll find you share common goals, common concerns and common ground. They are worried just like you are and they have pretty good ideas on how to get along with ‘the other side’.
Last, everyone needs to come together for the American republic. We are a republic and have created a nation that is the envy of the world. We are successful in so many ways, and our economic successes have been driven by the powerful engines of innovation and productivity – and fueled by our dreams for a brighter future.
In the past we have put others before ourselves in order to achieve those dreams. John F. Kennedy charged us to ask what we can do for our country. Ronald Reagan told us that the greatest leader is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.
I believe the first step is for all of us to come together. We did that in 1776. It’s time to do that again.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Click here to read more about Texas’ Lone Star Success.