Texans say health care can’t wait!

AUSTIN – The Texas AFL-CIO initiated a statewide rally for health care reform at the state capitol for November 14. They quickly picked up co-sponsorship from dozens of progressive organizations. Their main speaker was popular Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He gave an energizing report on events leading up to the successful House vote on November 7 and called for the rally goers to focus on winning over the rest of Texas. He specifically dismissed the idea of trying to convert Texas’ two hard-headed right-wing Republican Senators, Cornyn and Hutchinson, in favor of building support among the people throughout the state. Congressman Doggett’s comments are on-line at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkEB5qYEqgE

State Rep. Elliott Naishtat , whose district includes the capitol, also called for an energetic program of outreach. He lamented Texas’ shameful last-place standing in health care coverage for its citizens and children. “I’m angry about the state of health care in Texas and the U.S., and I know that you are, too,” he said. “Isn’t it time for Congress to act?”

Not all the speakers were popular politicians. They were union activists and workers from all aspects of Texas society. Margarita Alvarez, a mother of 8 from Dallas, was easily the most popular speaker. Blasting away in Spanish, she reminded the crowd that solidarity is not just a word, “It is an action!” she declared. Her call for unity resonated with everyone, especially the mistress of ceremonies, AFL-CIO Vice President Emeritus Linda Chavez-Thompson of San Antonio. Excerpts from Alvarez’ oration and others are on-line at:

In North Texas, where three busloads of rallygoers originated, MoveOn organized people to participate. Their national organization assisted with several other November 14 rallies across the nation.

Photo: Bernadette Steward