THE BLOG
02/27/2013 04:49 pm ET Updated Apr 29, 2013

The Case for Battleground Texas

America is changing.

For proof, look no further than the re-election of President Barack Obama and the record support he received from key minority communities last November. As the 2012 campaign's national field director -- and after leading teams in Ohio and South Carolina in 2008 -- I've seen firsthand how our work to expand the electorate and bring groups from all walks of life into the democratic process literally changed the face of politics in this country.

Grassroots voices were enormously successful in 2012 and 2008. So where do we go from here? How do we continue to engage Americans in the democratic process and make our politics better reflect our population?

One of the answers is in Texas -- a state that is at a political crossroads.

As our nation continues to change, so does the Lone Star State. With its size and diversity, Texas has the potential to be a leading state that sets the tone on the policy issues of our day -- as well as serving as an economic driver for the nation. And with 38 electoral votes at stake, Texas could virtually remake the presidential campaign map. But the current political landscape in the state is keeping Texas -- and its residents -- from meeting its promise and being relevant at a national level.

That's why we started a movement called "Battleground Texas." It is united by the basic belief that when our elected leaders represent our values, we all win. And that is why over the next several years in every community and in every neighborhood, our team of volunteers and organizers will be knocking on doors, registering voters and engaging Texans to make sure they not only turn out on Election Day but that they also become more involved in the political process.

We know how to get this done. We pioneered the neighborhood team organizing model -- an approach which transformed organizing in presidential politics by merging people-focused, community organizing with empowering and inclusive digital technology and cutting-edge data analytics. That blueprint helped us win even the toughest of battles in 2008 and 2012, in places like Virginia, where we went into reliably red turf and turned it into a battleground. And that is exactly what we will do in Texas.

At the most basic level, the latest census statistics show fully 56 percent of the state population is Latino, Asian-American, African American or another minority group -- yet we're not seeing anything close to this kind of diversity reflected in the people who represent Texans in public office.

Now, part of the reason they aren't representing Texans is because too few Texans are participating in the democratic process. When only 54 percent of Latinos are registered -- and only 35 percent turn out on Election Day (as they did in 2008) -- this leads to a government for half the people, by half the people, not a government representing all Texans. With gerrymandering and other Republican attempts to suppress the vote, some of this low voter participation is understandable. But some of it is the result of folks thinking their voice will not be heard. We think that's a problem. So we're going to change it.

At the same time, we will be working hard to engage women voters in Texas. Women voters in the Lone Star State supported Obama by just 47 percent in 2008 -- far fewer than the 55 percent nationwide that supported the President in both 2008 and 2012. We can do much better than that.

We know change in Texas won't happen overnight -- we know that turning the state like Texas into a battleground will take a long-term strategy and a sustained push from grassroots activists. But grassroots voices are already changing this country on a scale that was unheard of just a few years ago -- and that kind of organization and local activism can also change Texas.

Now is the time to act. Texas is ready, we are ready, and together we will make Texas count.

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