Congressman Doggett Likes Long Lines . . . at Early Voting Locations
The Forrest Files: October 20, 2020
U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett represents communities from San Antonio to Austin. He serves as Chairman of the Heath Subcommittee on the House Ways & Means Committee, the oldest committee of the US Congress. Doggett is also a member of the Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and the House Budget Committee.
Since he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, Doggett has served as a strong defender of Social Security, Medicare, health care, immigration reform, the environment, our veterans, small business and entrepreneurs, and public education. The Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce has named Congressman Doggett the Government Hispanic Business Advocate of the Year.
Representative Doggett’s wife, Libby, recently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education. They have two daughters: Lisa, an Austin physician; and Cathy, who leads teams across Texas that work with new, disadvantaged parents. The Doggetts have four grandchildren: Ella, Clara, Zayla, and Canyon.
You spend a lot of your life flying between Austin and Washington DC. How do you typically pass those two-and-a-half hours of flight time?
I work listening to a variety of music from Nakia, Los Texas Wranglers, Lyle Lovett or Rachmaninoff. And with the pandemic, it’s now all mask, no eating or drinking, and watching the clock, hoping the flight soon ends.
Favorite current (or recently-read book) and why?
It had been my good fortune to sit next to John Lewis on the dais of the Ways and Means Committee. His decades of service touched so many lives and his multi-volume graphic novel, March, reached a younger audience. Reading it to my own grandchildren, they were hooked early when John talked about the fact that as a young boy he preached to his chickens, and that is how he became the great orator that we know him as. He wrote that they would never quite say “Amen.” The dedication, in March, reads “To the past and future children of the movement.” His loss and the challenges we now face underscore the importance of this election and his enduring message of hope, struggle, and love.
“80% of Travis County is currently represented by ardent Trump supporters. Neighbors find their representative doesn’t represent their values, is inaccessible and unaccountable. Too often town hall meetings include only a cardboard cutout of an elected official who declines to justify total obedience to Trump.”
The 35th Congressional district of Texas which you represent slices from Central Texas all the way to San Antonio. Do you think we’ll ever end this practice of gerrymandering and create districts that make more sense geographically? How is Austin hurt at the national level by these intensely gerrymandered districts?
As to the harm, 80% of Travis County is currently represented by ardent Trump supporters. Neighbors find their representative doesn’t represent their values, is inaccessible and unaccountable. Too often town hall meetings include only a cardboard cutout of an elected official who declines to justify total obedience to Trump. Since the Supreme Court has basically decided to ignore gerrymandering except for limited protection for minority performing districts under the Voting Rights Act, it’s up to us. The only effective way to prevent Republicans from carving Austin into a dozen districts stretching to Lubbock or Texarkana is to elect a Democratic majority in the Texas House. We only need nine new Democrats to join our current representatives to accomplish this, and at the same time push back on the general craziness of Dan Patrick. In our area, that makes all the more important protecting the excellent representation we already have from Erin Zwiener, Vikki Goodwin, John Bucy, and James Talarico.
What is your best advice for those of us concerned about a fair counting of all ballots (including mail-in votes) on November 3?
In Central Texas, our ballots will be fairly counted. Elsewhere there may well be need for poll watchers and a stable of lawyers ready to respond to Republican voter suppression and intimidation. Each individual can help by voting early. If you vote by mail, you should already have returned your ballot. Do not delay! Don’t wait until Election Day to vote, but continue to encourage those you know who have not yet voted to vote some way, somewhere right up until 7 p.m. on November 3. The best way to get rid of Trump is with a defeat of him and his enablers of historic proportions. Find your most convenient voting place here.
The spring and summer of 2020 have been a very difficult time period in America. Who or what makes you more optimistic about this country’s future?
The line of early voters I saw around the Carver Library, a block from my home in East Austin. So many have recognized that social distancing need not prevent social engagement for social justice. It’s more challenging than ever but more necessary than ever.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals.
He also posts frequent interviews on Medium with innovators and thought-leaders from Austin, across the United States and around the world. Browse here for the full list of these interviews.
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