Borderlands Historian Miguel Levario has thrown his hat in the ring for the United States Congressional Race in House District 19, which includes Abilene and Lubbock, Texas.

Miguel A. Levaro (Ph.D. History, University of Texas) studies and teaches immigration and borderlands history at Texas Tech University. He authored Militarizing the Border: When Mexicans Became the Enemy (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012) and understands well the deep connection between Texas and Mexico, i.e. Tex-Mex. He grew up in the border town of Anthony, Texas, outside of El Paso, on exit 0 of I-10, at the nexus of New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico.

It is appropriate that a person from the town where Mexico ends and Texas begins should come to represent a new beginning for the Democratic Party in West Texas. Funny, handsome, and with an engaging smile, Levario talked of his wife and children back in Lubbock that will be joining him on the trail in the coming months. Raised by hardworking parents on the border, and after matriculating at schools in El Paso, Levario attended Notre Dame where he earned his undergraduate degree. He took to heart their Catholic teachings, especially the mantra “who will you fight for.” It seems that Miguel Levario has chosen to fight for the people of District 19, and his speech last night ignited the Taylor County Democrats in several rounds of applause.

Levario describes himself as a “Citizen-Scholar,” which means sanity, professionalism, and informed decision-making, and that it is what we need in Washington today. Less division and more solutions is what Miguel Levario offers the constituents of District 19.

He argued: “solutions are here and it is up to us to recognize them.” After hearing Levario speak of his values, I believe he could bring solutions and unity back to government. Boldly he expressed “I’m your man” and at the same time humbly remarked that he was “here to serve”—a necessary combination for a bold and responsive leader.

Jody Arrington, the current Republican Representative for District 19, has been criticized for his lack of service and responsiveness to the people he represents. Arrington has been absent from his district and ducking town halls. In fact, he might be facing an “Empty Town Hall Meeting” scenario in the near future, which will be covered by local and national media. These “Empty Town Halls” put a spotlight on congressmen and women (like Arrington, Mac Thornberry, and Kay Granger), who are ignoring the concerns of their constituents.

Miguel Levario promised to answer and work for his constituents, hitting on the major theme of his speech that people need representation that listens and works for them. They need responsive leadership and a government that works for the people in an intelligent way.

An expert on the border, Levario, talked of a “secure border” and of smart ways of achieving that strength. He got a big round of applause when he called the wall an “idiotic campaign phrase,” which is the reality that most Texans know. “I understand the border,” Levario said, and it can be dealt with “well-thought out policies.” The border is an interconnected, interwoven community and insightful understanding and policymaking would be better for the economy of Texas and for the people living in border communities. There is no doubt that Levario has a better understanding of the immigration and border issues than most, if not all politicians, in Austin or Washington.

Rural residents at the meeting were pleased with Levario’s appeal to “rise up and save our rural schools” and “to protect farmers and farm laborers.” Levario understood that urban areas need help, but also that we want our “rural communities to flourish.” To do that we need a government that works for all of its citizens, not just a few who have the money to put a candidate into office.

Levario declared that Donald Trump’s presidency has been a disaster—a “failure in leadership.” The unending lies and deception make people question the trustworthiness of the President and his party. He said that Republicans like Trump and Arrington “don’t want small government. They want to own the government.” Levario offers the opposite—a defense of good governance and good programs like Meals on Wheels.

Miguel Levario brings much-needed youth and energy to the Democratic Party. He offers an intelligent campaign that will be grassroots and community based—“our campaign” where we will “rise up and be heard.” It is exciting and refreshing to hear from a scholar of history, a “citizen-scholar” who has studied the past and can lead us to a better, more united future. Thank you Miguel Levario for running for office. 

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