As the son of a Korean War Veteran and as a Member of Congress, that answer is simple for me. If you want to get the job done, give it to a veteran. I have always taken pride in having veterans on my team. And having Ruben Ramirez in Congress is no different.
Ruben grew up with the same struggles and obstacles most of us did in the region, but you’ll never hear him complain. He went to college on student loans and pell grants and became a high school physics teacher. He then volunteered to wear our uniform and fight for our freedom. And as luck would have it, he was called to duty right after the birth of his first son. Leaving his young bride and new-born behind, he answered the call for all of us. And although he came back from Afghanistan as a decorated war veteran, he’ll be the last one to mention it. When he returned from war, he attended the University of Houston Law School on his GI Bill and immediately came home to his beloved RGV.
Ruben represents what South Texans are built of: honesty, integrity and hard work. These values transcend political parties. And that is why Ruben is the only candidate who can win in a district that was intentionally carved out for a Republican. But you don’t have to take my word for it. BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, conducted the only independent poll and it showed that Ruben Ramirez clearly stands out in the crowd to likely South Texas voters. And he can win on November.
Ruben is a moderate Democrat, just like most voters in our region. He understands the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform and sees migrants with a compassionate eye. But like other South Texas members of Congress and myself, he is NOT FOR OPEN BORDERS. And clearly most South Texas voters are not either. However, he is against the hateful rhetoric that you hear spewing from the hard, right wing Republicans that have recently emerged in the RGV.
As as a former school teacher and with children in school, not only does Ruben understand what our kids need for a superior education. He also understands our school districts and what overworked underpaid teachers need in the classroom.
I have no issue with other Democratic candidates. In fact, I commend them all for running. However this runoff race is not for a left wing Democratic seat. And campaigns should not just be about political rhetoric and making noise for the sake of it. Campaigns ought to be about being strategic, thoughtful and ultimately triumphant.
In South Texas, we don’t expect handouts. Sometimes all we need is a hand up and opportunities to achieve our dreams. Ruben Ramirez, can deliver those opportunities. He has fought for our children in the classroom, he’s fought for our country on the battlefield and has proven himself in the courtroom. His well-rounded life experiences will make him a Swiss Army knife in Congress. I know Ruben and I can tell you he will be ready to hit the ground running on day one. I have no doubt that he will represent South Texas with honor and dignity.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen. The column appears in the Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Gonzalez can be reached by email via: [email protected]
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Certainly Mr. Ramirez’ background is highly commendable. We definitely want people of high character representing us in Congress. But there is much more than one’s personal history, the struggles one has over come, and one’s character that go into deciding who should represent us in Congress. A very similar background article could be written about Michelle Vallejo, and the obstacles she has overcome in her life.
We also need to look at candidates political philosophy, and the programs they would support and oppose as a member of Congress. Mr. Ramirez is a neo-liberal Democrat. It is the neo-liberal (Republican Lite) Democrats who gave us Donald Trump because neo-liberal Democrats turned their backs on the traditional constituency of the Democratic party to represent the interests of corporations and the billionaire class. If that sounds to you like what Republicans do, you are correct. The difference is, neo-liberal (Republican lite) Democrats just don’t go as far towards further enriching the rich while impoverishing everyone else as Republicans. But neo-liberal Democrats also have enabled Republicans to move farther toward anti-democratic, authoritarian positions, which opened the door wide for Donald Trump.
On the other hand, Michelle Vallejo is a traditional Democrat in the mold of FDR, JFK and LBJ. She wants to work for the people in general, not the corporate class. She will support policies and programs to reduce poverty, child poverty in particular, to improve health care and increase health care for those with limited access to health care, to end the Republican and neo-liberal war against education, to protect our environment and stave off the disastrous effects of climate change. And this is why she is the far better choice for Congress. She will work for We The People.
That said, if Mr. Ramirez wins the Democratic nomination, we should back his candidacy in November whole heartedly because a neo-liberal Democrat who believes in people’s right to vote is far superior than an anti-democratic Republican who is willing, if not eager, to climb into bed with fascists who want to destroy whatever remains of our democracy.