Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Amanda Ulman, Socialist Candidate For Mayor Of Houston, Should Run A Serious Campaign—Or She Should Not Run At All

(Blogger’s Note 11/5/11–What I said here about Ms. Ulman’s campaign 2 years ago is valid again for her 2011 campaign.)    

Amanda Ulman is a Socialist candidate for Mayor of Houston.

It is useful for voters in Houston to have the option of a socialist candidate. Republicans have put the idea of socialism back in the public’s mind after a long absence. Nobody was thinking of socialism before the Republicans started calling Barack Obama a socialist.

Though it has been many years, socialist candidates for public office were once able to win between 5% and 10% of the votes in elections all over the nation. Once in a while they would even win a race.

In 1912, Eugene V. Debs took 6% of the vote nationwide as the Socialist candidate for President of the United States. There is nothing to say that candidates running as Socialists could not at some point in the future win support in our nation.

If Ms. Ulman is going to run for Mayor of Houston, as she did also in 2007, she should be serious about what she is doing. Otherwise, she will be easy to dismiss as a kind of joke.

As far as I can see, Ms. Ulman does not have a web site. How can a credible campaign in this day and age not have web site? Ms. Ulman is missing a cheap and easy way to get her message out.

I can tell Ms. Ulman that as Election Day approaches, people will start putting her name in search engines as they see her name on the ballot.

Two years ago, when Texas Liberal got much less traffic than it does today, I got something like 1000 hits in the days leading up to Election Day for a post I’d written about a candidate for Mayor of Houston named Outlaw Josey Wales. (Sadly, Mr. Wales is not running in 2009.)

Every time I write about a candidate for public office, I get a large spike in my blog traffic for that post in the last few days before the election. People see who is running for the various offices and they research these candidates. Often traffic about that candidate’s post goes up for a few weeks before the election as people early vote.

With a web site, Ms. Ulman could write about how her Socialist beliefs are relevant to governing Houston. What is more socialist than a government run police department or fire department?

Ms. Ulman could talk about the local relevance of issues like the need for universal health insurance or a more fair distrubution of income. The three “serious” candidates for Mayor of Houston, all Democrats, seem not to care very much about issues facing the poor—and about economic issues facing working people of all kinds—here in Houston.

While Ms. Ulman may not be able to raise much money, she could stand on busy street corners with a sign that simply said: Amanda Ulman–Socialist For Mayor Of Houston.

I realize she might not want to do that by herself in the current political climate. Still, voters would could least attach a real human being to the idea of socialism and would see that at least one fellow citizen of Houston holds socialist beliefs.

Has Ms. Ulman contacted the editorial boards of the Houston Chronicle and of the various community weekly newspapers in Houston asking for an interview? Has she asked for time on all of the T.V. and radio community affairs programs? Has she produced a cable public access message that is being broadcast? Does she have a Twitter account?

Ms. Ulman could represent a real choice for voters frustrated with the big money donors and lack of attention to so many serious issues that seems to define campaigns for Mayor of Houston. Maybe Ms. Ulman could be the start of a real core of socialist support in Houston. You never know.

Ms. Ulman should run a real race or she should give it up and stop harming her cause by not being serious.

Here is a series of articles from The Nation magazine about ideas for socialism in modern America.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

I Voted Yes On Houston School Levy So Kids Can Take More Civics Classes And Question Legtimacy Of Political Structure Unable To Address Global Economy And Climate Change

I voted this morning in our Houston city elections. I voted just a few minutes ago. I did not get the sense of high turnout.

High turnout would require voters that care, a Republican Party that thought Houston was worth fighting for, and a Democratic Party that had the competence and imagination to make at least some effort to generate turnout of Democratic voters.

We don’t have any of those things in Houston.

For Mayor of Houston I voted for Amanda Ulman. I posted about this last week. Bill White did not need my vote and voters deserve options.

Can you imagine that not one Republican in Houston cared enough about his or her city to run and offer competing ideas in contrast to Mayor White to our citizens? 

I voted forJolanda Jones for Houston At-Large Position 5. Hopefully she’ll make it to a run-off and the sneaky Zaf Tahir will not. Please click here to read about Mr. Tahir and the things he has been up to as a candidate.

I voted for Melissa Noriega and Peter Brown in other at-large Council races. I’m looking forward to Mr. Brown’s possible candidacy against Annise Parker for Houston Mayor in 2009. I think Mr. Brown will offer a hopeful vision for Houston in sharp contrast to the deadening business-as-usual pragmatism that characterizes Ms. Parker’s type of politics.     

In addition to the city candidates, there were a number of important school levies, county bond issues and Texas statewide matters on the ballot.

I voted yes on the Houston school levy because we need to prepare these kids to have the civic awareness to realize that both major parties are selling them down the river on the global economy and climate change.

I think that with a few more social studies, civics and history classes, kids might begin to ask questions about the basic legitimacy of a system that either cannot or will not address the most important issues of the future.     

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics, Ways We Hate Children | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Socialist & Outlaw Josey Wales—A Few Words Of Consideration For Houston’s Mayoral Contenders

Houston Mayor Bill White will certainly win re-election next week. His two opponents are a man who changed his name legally to Outlaw Josey Wales IV and Socialist Amanda Ulman. 

It’s easy to discount these people, and voters will dispatch them without much thought, yet both merit a few words of consideration

First, please read below about Ms. Ulman and Mr. Wales excerpted from a Houston Chronicle story by Matt Stiles profiling the race for Mayor.

“…… For now, though, White faces meat-packing plant worker Amanda Ulman and contract engineer and professional wrestling promoter Outlaw Josey Wales IV in the Nov. 6 election.

Ulman is running on behalf of the Socialist Workers Party. Her platform includes calls for amnesty for all illegal immigrants, the immediate end to the Iraq war and a massive public works project to give jobs to the unemployed at union wages.

“Workers are a majority of Houston, and we need our own voice. We need someone to stand up and raise demands that are in our own interest,” said Ulman, an Indiana native who was a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006. “We join in the struggles of working people.”

White’s other opponent, who legally changed his name to Outlaw Josey Wales in 1998 to create a persona for his wrestling events, ran unsuccessfully against former Mayor Lee Brown a year later. He said he wants to pay Houston police officers more and ensure the long-term viability of their pension system.

He wants to make it illegal to drive while holding a cell phone and to require at least four motorists in a car to allow access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes. He also wants to extend rail lines along major freeways from downtown to the city limits.

“You’ve got to get people out of their cars,” he said. “There’s no reason someone in Kingwood, Humble, Katy, (U.S.) 290 north, Clear Lake, anywhere out past the Beltway on Interstate 10 either way, should be driving into work.”

In the case of Ms. Ulman, the Socialist Party did once have a presence in Texas. In the first 20 years of the last century, there were often Socialists running for Congress from Texas. The Socialist candidate for President won 8.3% of the vote in Texas in 1912 and 5.1% in 1916. ( In 1912, Socialist Eugene V. Debs at 8.3% ran only 1.1% behind Republican President William Howard Taft in Texas.)

I’ve long held that voters in big cities are used by the Democratic Party. We give Democrats our votes and it is often difficult to see how our cities are getting any better and how the lives of poor and working class people in cities are getting any better.   

If big city voters had Green Party or Socialist Party options they felt were electorally viable, such alternatives might well be be considered.

For now, Ms. Ulman and her ideas can be dismissed by simply referring to her as a Socialist. It’s not always been that way in Texas and nothing says it will always be that way in the future. 

As for Mr. Wales, self-creation and starting fresh are acts fully consistent with Houston and with politics.

He changed his name because he wanted to make some money. Good for him. I hope he made some money. If I thought I could make a lot of money by changing my name to Wyatt Earp, I would likely do so. I imagine many people would do the same.   

Mr. Wales has had fewer names than former Texas Comptroller and candidate for Governor One Tough Grandma Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn. Every time you turned around she had a new name.

Bloggers give themselves new names and made-up names all the time. Bloggers are a big thing in politics now. That’s at least what I read.

I don’t care what people choose to call themselves.    

Is Mr. Wales anymore or less stable than our civic Founding Father Sam Houston? Mr. Houston used to walk around Houston dressed as a cross between a frontiersman and an Indian. Sam Houston was, in his way, a serious and talented man.

Mr. Wales says he advocates carpooling and people getting off the phone while driving. He wants to increase police pay. That seems like a platform many people might support.

Is Mr. Wales any more or less serious than the process of how we elect our city officials in Houston with silly six year term limits and terrible turnout? I think Mr. Wales might in fact be somewhat dignified for such a screwed-up process.    

In 2010, if Mayor White runs for statewide office, I’ll strongly consider giving him my vote. I want a Democrat as Governor. 

In 2007, my only regret is that I must choose between Ms. Ulman and Mr. Wales. I like them both.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment