by Joe Cardenas, III, ED of Texas LULAC
DC NOTE: After reading much criticism about “the deal,” I sought out Joe to provide a bit more clarification. With so many press releases and comments flying about, I thought it fair to have a clearer view of things from this other side of the debate. If someone on the other side wants to clarify their position, by all means send it in for equal time.
I write this as an attempt to clarify a lot of misinformation that is casting a shadow of doubt on the sincere efforts of Texas LULAC to reach a satisfactory conclusion to redistricting. Remember that we belong to a coalition of seven organizations called the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force who organized for the sole purpose of garnering the best possible redistricting plans in the Congress and State House for Latino representation after the Texas Legislature adopted maps that not only failed to give Latinos any additional representation, but that purposely weakened Latino opportunity districts or did away with the viability of Latino preferred candidates. From the on start, we have been fighting a two-front battle to get what we lost and to increase our representation in the Congress and State House. That the Texas Attorney General has given its approval of maps that give our community back what it had lost and an increase in representation through Latino opportunity districts is a victory for all Texans!
Our fight in the courts is going well, but the timeframe provided by the court in D.C., makes it likely that Texas will have a split primary that will cost counties throughout the state money that they don’t have and confusion that will keep many from voting; it is estimated that a split primary will cost 15 to 20 million dollars. It is for this reason that the court in San Antonio has urged all parties to negotiate among themselves a plan that is acceptable and in keeping with the voting rights act and the instructions by the Supreme Court; furthermore, and most importantly, Texas LULAC and the Task Force applaud the State’s position that these maps are acceptable for the decade! Removing redistricting from the state legislative agenda ensures that we can concentrate on the educational issues of the state.
But be warned, there are many detractors who are against Texas LULAC and the Task Force for various reasons stemming from their own lack of foresight. I have seen the comments and emails from friends in the Democratic party criticize our willingness to support plans that accomplish our goal and provide a springboard to addressing the issue of education for all; I have also witnessed the criticism of Republicans who question whether the Attorney General has the power to agree on a set of plans at this stage of the game. We have also read various newspaper articles that falsely read that the court has rejected these plans. Let me be very clear on these naysayers: We are not in the business of protecting the incumbency of any politician whether they are a Democrat or a Republican! Nor does the argument that some have been left out change our position, for in the end, the only group who matters is the Latino community of Texas. We do what we do because the Latino community of Texas as a whole will benefit regardless of what some might say. Texas LULAC will not play politics with the education of our children!
We have an opportunity to support plans that will ensure our community additional representation while removing redistricting from the legislative agenda, all in the spirit of compromise!
Brothers and Sisters, by all accounts, this is a victory, a hard fought victory! Texas LULAC was the only organization to be present at every state redistricting hearing; it was Texas LULAC that was consistently present in Austin at the hearings; it was Texas LULAC that helped create a Task Force to represent the Latino community. And, it was Texas LULAC who elected to have MALDEF as its legal representation in order to ensure that the best possible case could be made on behalf of the Latino community of Texas. We have forced the state to reconsider its stance, and we are on the verge of a victorious compromise that will politically change the way politics are done in Texas. From this point on the Latino community of Texas is not beholden to any one political party or politician! We as a community have achieved a level of political maturity that will translate into political power from now on. You must be willing to stand firm on this compromise that many do not want, but for which so much is at stake.
As a teacher of Government, I often cringe at the politics of D.C. and the inability of our politicians to make decisions for the people rather than for their own self-interests. Today, we in Texas LULAC find ourselves in a similar situation: do we do what is in the best interest of the people of Texas, or do we bend to the interests of the politicians and their friends? Somewhere along the way, politicians forgot that our nation was forged in the art of compromise for the common good. While we do not agree with all aspects of the proposed plans, they do accomplish our goals, so that we can concentrate on the educational issues of fair-funding, high-stakes testing, and the state’s structural deficit. We have been given the opportunity to move beyond the issue of redistricting in a satisfactory manner. Now is the time to do so by again taking the lead in spite of what criticism may come. In the end, time will prove that our choice was the right choice; and History will remember that it was Texas LULAC that led the way!