Rio Grande Valley, deep in the heart of south Texas. Ninety-five percent Mexican American. Will Republicans who court them win in 2022, 2024? Have Democrats forgotten them? Who should they vote for in coming general election? Who “has their back?” 

Decide, by just looking at current affairs? Hardly adequate. Let’s consider history. Let’s go back, at least as far as Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his New Deal saving the country from Republican Herbert Hoover’s Great Depression. Then, multiple Democratic programs of work and employment—the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); the Works Public Administration projects (WPA); Social Security (monthly payments beginning in 1940); the GI Bill for Veterans. 

Too long ago? You don’t remember? You don’t care about historical actions of 85 years ago, that helped your grandparents or great-grandparents? Then, what about history around 1960? Say, Democratic programs such as Medicare (or do you not plan to age)? Then, of course, lest we forget,  major Civil Rights legislation, 1964; Voting Rights, 1965; a woman’s right to make her own decision about her own pregnancy, 1973. These and previous progressive decisions were largely opposed by most Republicans. 

Ah, but you may be saying to Democrats—echoing an all too familiar refrain–”what have you done for me lately?” What of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), 2010. Not recent enough? Yeah, a whole decade or more. So, now, Democrats (minus DINOS, “Democrats in Name Only”) achieved BBB—Build Back Better—monies for physical infrastructure (roads, bridges), and (pending) proposed monies for social infrastructure (child care, credit for parents). Both components of BBB will aid the Rio Grande Valley, will aid Mexican Americans in many ways, in immediate ways and over the years to come. How do we get there? 

True, Democrats don’t campaign strongly enough, often enough, especially in south Texas, many of them, allegedly, “taking the Mexican American vote for granted.” Also true, there is still no “Medicare for All,” (and in Texas, due to Republicans, no extended Medicare). There is still no federal mandate of a $15 hourly minimum wage, although, next year 35 cities and 21 states (not Texas) will raise their minimum wage, up to $15 US an hour. Republicans have long fought a $15 minimum wage, tooth and nail. A “Living Wage” is considered to be about $18 an hour (Kate Gibson, CBS,  29 Dec 21). When that doesn’t happen, is it Democrats’ fault, or Republican recalcitrance? Democrats in Texas have not won a state-wide office since 1994, so don’t blame them.

In Texas, government is dominated by Republicans. So, not surprising, Texas is not among those states raising wages. Instead, with other priorities, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has led the state in allowing any unlicensed person to “pack a weapon without a permit,” and has denied women the Constitutional right of choice, even if she is pregnant from rape or incest (“Alert: Abbott is Clown of Year,” San Antonio Current, 29 Dec 21). Democrats, on the other hand, oppose such policies.

Democrats—many of them thoughtful Mexican Americans in the Rio Grande Valley—are aware of their own interests. They remember former President Trump’s hateful, anti-Mexican rhetoric. They have seen, more recently, the Republican-dominated legislature of Texas change the electoral map, gerrymandering Mexican American and other districts, all in favor of their own party and of Anglo Americans. 

That might be to your liking; “to the victor goes the spoils,” right? Yes, the Right, the political Right-wing, if not the moral right, thinks in those terms. But representing the better policies is not enough. Democrats need to be reminded “it’s the economy, stupid.” Polls show Mexican Americans are mainly concerned about the issues of economy, education, and health; they are less attracted to what they perceive as Democrat’s immigration policies, and even less to many of the “woke” side issues.

But I assume most readers are eager to consider the history of the US over the last 9 decades. Hopefully, most readers here are concerned about the current anger and division in the land. They are trying to maintain hope about 2022 and the next few years of economic progress and about improvement in health and security, overall. I trust the alert reader to consider the best interests of not only his/her class and ethnic group, but of all others, of the state and the nation.

I am a “Depression-baby,” (not a “Boomer”), an Army veteran (Infantry and Intelligence). I profited from my military service, from the GI Bill, and now rely on Social Security, paid for by the taxes of all peoples. I “owe” all my brothers and sisters in the US, past and present (and future), for my condition. My personal history makes up who I am and why I am so strong in my own partisan convictions. 

I, “tu servidor,” (your servant, as it is so nicely said in Spanish) wish you a better new year for 2022. May you have the wisdom to reflect on history, in order to determine who has been “on your side”–a tu lado, over the years. Then, decide which political choice, Democratic or Republican, you will make. May history and morality guide your decision.   

Editor’s Note: The above column has been penned by Rio Grande Guardian columnist Dr. Gary Joe Mounce. Mounce is a writer and former university professor. He can be reached by email via: [email protected].

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above column shows Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Photo Credit: The Center for Presidential Transition.

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