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  • Writer's pictureRob Icsezen

Ep. 21 Nisha Randle - Harris County as Political Battleground

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

Nisha Randle 0:04

***radio effect on voice*** Get out there and do something. It doesn't matter how small it is, it doesn't matter how big it is. Just do something. It's going to take all of us to flip the state. And that's gonna be a lot of work. But we can do it if we all put our boots on, get out there and start talking to people.

Music 0:18

***Intro Music***

Nisha Randle 0:18


Rob Icsezen 0:26

What's up Houston, welcome to H-Town Progressive! Houston's impenetrable fortress of progressive thought! I'm your host, Rob Icsezen! ***intro music fades out*** Battleground! You hear this term a lot in politics, and for good reason! It basically describes a place where the political fight will be won and lost. Which means, in our two party system, a political battleground can presumably go either Republican or Democrat. Think Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the always lovably dysfunctional Florida! But Texas? It's been a while since anyone has thought of us as the front line of anything. I'm old enough to remember when Texas statewide office holders were not all competing to be the last feather on the right wing. But that was a long time ago. Since then, and basically for a generation now, Texas has been, not just red, but the seat of power for the conservative political machine. And boy, did they use that power: the disaster that is our school finance system, our shameful uninsured numbers, our statewide invitation to shit on the environment! just to name a few, all brought to you by the fanatically conservative wrecking crew of the Texas government. Add to that the structural changes they put in place to cling to power as long as they could, despite the numbers, like gerrymandering and voter suppression, and well, things have gotten pretty bad. But, as we saw last fall here in Harris County, there is a glimmer of hope. Texas Progressives have had enough! and we are fighting back! You see, they might have the money and the guns, they might've twisted the system to their benefit as much as legally (and sometimes illegally) possible. But we have the numbers, we have the people. And when you kick the people, they come roaring back at you. Our numbers are closer now than they've been in a long time. Harris County is blue. The Texas House is just a few representatives away from turning blue. And, we just might be ready to vote for a progressive on a statewide basis. But, the work must continue for all this to happen. You must do it! I must do it! Our friends, our families, our neighbors, our co-workers! We all have to do more! I know exciting, right!?! And, it's also kind of daunting, but luckily our guest today is someone who's been in the trenches of the political fight and is ready to pull us all in with her. Nisha Randle is the communications director for the Harris County Democratic Party. She's also a Houston activist and organizer involved in the leadership of the Houston progressive groups, Indivisible and Houston Rising, which are the organizers for the March for Black Women Houston. She's working hard to help change the political landscape of Texas and is especially committed to increasing the levels of political engagement of women of color. It's my honor to welcome to the show today, Nisha Randle! Nisha, welcome to H-Town Progressive!

Nisha Randle 3:29

Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

Rob Icsezen 3:31

It is fantastic to have you on the show. I'm looking forward to this because I've never lived in a battleground before, but apparently I do now, huh!

Nisha Randle 3:39


Rob Icsezen 3:39

Do we live in a battleground?

Nisha Randle 3:40

We live in a battle ground and I have to say, I don't think I've lived in a battle ground before either. I mean, I'm a Texas native, but this is the first time anybody's ever put those two words in a sentence: "Texas" and "Battleground State".

Rob Icsezen 3:50

[laughing] Yeah! We have, do we have? I guess we have something to be excited then don't we, huh!

Nisha Randle 3:55

Yes, we definitely have something to be excited about!

Rob Icsezen 3:57

What does that mean though? What is it, I mean, there's the technical definition obviously. Like, it's where, you know, presumably Rs or Ds can win. What does that? How should we be thinking about it?

Nisha Randle 4:06

I think for progressives, we should be thinking about it that Texas can actually turn the whole tide of the political landscape in the country. As so Texas goes, so does the rest of the country. So if we were able to flip Texas, then there is no logical way that Republicans can win the White House. So a lot is riding on Texas being a battleground state or Texas actually flipping blue in 2020.

Rob Icsezen 4:35

And that's just simple math, right? I mean, California is already blue, New York's blue, with California, big states there, and throw Texas into that pot...

Nisha Randle 4:44

38 electoral votes.

Rob Icsezen 4:46

There you go. So you can even lose dysfunctional Florida! [laughing]

Nisha Randle 4:50

[laughing] Yeah, I don't know how anybody's going to ever do anything good with Florida! It just, it does not work with anybody!

Rob Icsezen 4:58

Ah, there's some good people there but yeah! Okay, so so that's very exciting. And Harris County though, you're you're with the Harris County Democratic Party, you're with Indivisible, so you're on the ground, in the trenches, both sort of organizing from an activist perspective, but also from the party perspective. So what is it? I mean, I think are we the tip of the spear in Harris County?

Nisha Randle 5:20

I think we definitely are. You know, in 2016, we did amazing. I mean, we completely turned the whole county blue, which is awesome. But there's so many more votes out there in Harris County that, that we need, to actually flip the state. So Harris County is like, you know, people like to say all eyes on Texas right now. But I feel like all eyes in Texas, are on Harris County.

Rob Icsezen 5:43


Yeah, I mean, because I mean, what is, Texas looks like the rest of the country where you've got some very dark blue dots surrounded by very bright red, vast space.

Nisha Randle 5:54

Yeah. And that bright red vast space is bright red, a lot of the times I think because people don't really do organizing or progressive organizing or Democratic organizing in those areas. Because we've just been, I mean, from the time that I was a kid that knew even anything about voting, it was always like, well, your vote doesn't count in Texas, because this is a red state. And it doesn't matter how many people come out to vote in Harris County, we're not going to flip the state. But, and then that leads people to actually not organize in those areas, or not even really do that much organizing in Harris County, or in the blue areas, because we just feel like for presidential elections, there's nothing that we can do. But I mean, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If you don't do anything, then you're not going to gain anything.

Rob Icsezen 6:37

So then should we all embrace sort of the "Beto Strategy" of what 256, is it 256 counties or whatever?

Nisha Randle 6:43

[laughing] I think it's 256 or 257? Something like that? I honestly thought it was a good strategy.

Rob Icsezen 6:48


Nisha Randle 6:49

Everybody wants to be talked to everybody wants to be listened to. And people that don't vote don't vote because people don't ask them to vote. People don't talk to them.


Rob Icsezen 7:11

Did we do any work in Brazoria? I mean, that's...

Nisha Randle 7:13

well, you know it, it's there's like a different infrastructure. So we've got the party, the Harris County Democratic Party, and we've got, you know, staff and we've got volunteers...

Rob Icsezen 7:25

amazing staff!

Nisha Randle 7:26

Thank you so much. [laughing] But in smaller places where there's no infrastructure, it's really, really hard to make those inroads. I think with the focus being on, hey! Texas is a battleground state now, you'll see people investing in those areas that can be flipped. We have to have money, we have to have people, we have to have people in boots on the ground. But I think if people are actually seeing a path to victory in Texas, then some of that's going to actually change.

Rob Icsezen 7:53

So what what changed, though, to make us this battleground state? I mean, is it, is it a reaction to Donald Trump? Is it a reaction to, you know, the last, you can say 10, you can actually say 30 years of politics, perhaps. What, I mean, we've talked a little bit about history on this show before, but what's your take on why we're here now? Is it just that people who've been historically underrepresented now have more power? What's going on?

Nisha Randle 8:22

I think it's a combination of things. I think it's changing demographics in Texas. I think it's the reaction of Donald Trump. I think it's the reaction to Donald Trump bringing people out into organizing and activism, where they haven't been before, especially in Texas, and in Harris County. Like, I think there's just a bunch of different reasons why Texas is in play now. I, and I think it's amazing. I think it's awesome. And I think it's also scary, because we have the potential to do something amazing here. But we also have the potential to come up short.

Rob Icsezen 8:58

Well, yeah. And you know, I grew up in Houston, also. And I remember when I was in high school, which is quite a bit before you were in high school, I think [laughing] they said the same thing! They were saying that, you know, Texas is the sleeping giant, and that, you know, there's this huge voter base in Texas and just wait, Texas will turn blue! This is like the 90s. And I guess, we were blue for very long time, then we've been bright red ever since sort of mid 90s on. So the problem isn't that we don't have enough, Democrats or progressives in the state, or certainly this county. It's that we don't vote! So the question is, why don't we vote? And I have a theory on this. I'm curious to hear what you think. And I think it goes to what you said before, it's that people just get disaffected. They don't think their vote matters. You know, we, like you said historically, in our lifetimes, in our adult voting lifetimes, at least, have been told and have experienced bright red Republicanism in this state. So why bother? But, and yeah, there's the argument: well, if you don't try, you're never going to win. But gosh, when when you, we are chipping away at a mountain, it gets tiring. And it seems like it's never going to end. And I've, I've been, I preach to focus local on that, focus locally, school board, city council, all the stuff you actually can tip the scales on. And I think that that's what we're doing. But I'm not sure, what do you what do you think?

Nisha Randle 10:23

Well, I definitely think we're doing that I think more people are out knocking doors for school board elections. I have friends who are knocking doors right now for the Pearland election. And I mean, honestly, that was like unheard of. I, didn't even know Pearland has a separate school board, until, you know, a couple of years ago. But I think that if we focus on things that people, when you knock on their door, and you talk to them about what's important to them... I remember block walking this past summer or fall for the midterm elections, and the one thing that people would, I would knock on doors, and people would be like, "[sigh] who? I don't know who Ted Cruz is? I don't know who this Beto guy is. But I do remember that judge that fucked me over. So I'm going to vote for these new judges." And I think if we remember, voting and getting people out to vote is really, really personal. And the reasons are personal. And if we make those conversations that we have with our neighbors and in our community personal about things that they actually care about, then I think you can figure out a way to get them to the polls to get them involved, because you make it about the things that they care about.

Rob Icsezen 11:34

Yeah, Yeah. I mean, that that makes a whole lot of sense. Because while Ted Cruz, really, really does fuck you, he does it in a more tangential kind of way with intermediaries. But that judge, that judge is looking at your eye, and does it right there in front of you

Nisha Randle 11:49

And those people will never forget that judge. And they're like, well, I can vote that judge out! I didn't even know you could vote for judges! And hey, you got a whole new voter right there. So I think having those really, really personal, intentional conversations about what voting and what the power that you actually have, is really very important.

Rob Icsezen 12:08

Do you think that Commissioners Court now, turning blue and being completely... I mean, it's a whole new game now, we can actually go and see what's happening. Whereas before it was like behind closed doors and literally like smoke filled rooms. Do you think that that's going to move the dial, the fact that we're more transparent in our local government?

Nisha Randle 12:29

I think that's going to move the dial. I think that if you're Democrat or Republican, a lot of times we've gotten burned by politicians. And a lot of that is because we don't know what they're doing, and we kind of have this whole idea that these politicians are this protected class of people, and they're not our actual elected representatives our elected servants, they work for us. If we start to flip that, and you think, you're seen these people who are supposed to be working for you, and if you have that mindset, then you'll go to Commissioners Court, and you will talk to them, you will bring your issues to them. And I think that you take that back to your community, that's really, really important. I think having Commissioners Court be this place where people feel comfortable packing the room every week, which I think before was unheard of, says a whole lot about how we feel about what's going on in Harris County. Especially, we've got this whole progressive governing body in Harris County, from the County Judge all the way down to the District Clerk and we've got all these progressive judges that are making these changes. And this is really, really exciting. Now if we can just kind of scooch this stuff, this blue tint out into the suburbs and everything we'll be in pretty good shape for 2020.

Rob Icsezen 13:45

Yeah, well, and and two things there: We've got to hold them accountable. And that's one of the things that I, when we just did our special capital episode recently, I hadn't done that before, gone to the Capitol and talk to electives. And one thing in particular struck me and that's, this is the second thing, that precisely what you said, is that when you get in the face, and I don't mean aggressively, but when you're when you're there, you're present and you're seen by your elected official, that's meaningful! Especially at the state level, State Senate, State Rep, certainly School Board and City Council. If you're there... We were in Sarah Davis's office, not an ally at all, but they listened to us. And they straight up said, we count the number of calls we get on issues...

Nisha Randle 14:34

Well they do.

Rob Icsezen 14:35

And the preponderance of calls, if it goes in a particular direction, she could change your vote.

Nisha Randle 14:40

Well, that's what they're supposed to do! I mean, their job is to listen to the people and act on what their constituents want. So...

Rob Icsezen 14:47

Now I imagine not everybody does that.

Nisha Randle 14:49

I don't think everybody does it. But I think if you have a politician that doesn't do it, then you have the opportunity to have somebody run against them or to support somebody that's running against them. I think that we have to stop thinking about, like I said, these politicians as this protected class of people who are, you know, we have like this, this hierarchy of people in the country and our elected officials are not like some, you know, people that sit on the hill or like kings and queens. They're our representatives, they're regular ass people who work for us! [laughing]

Rob Icsezen 15:22

They are SO regular! They're more regular than we are, I mean, they are very flawed mother fuckers, right! [laughing]

Nisha Randle 15:23

[laughing] Yes they are! And they work for us! And I think that we, you know, there's so many times where we just, you know, they I feel like they, the perks and everything that they get, I think the only perks they should get are the ones that help them do their job better. I think they need to be in front of you asking you what you think, what you want, what's moving this community. What the community cares about, what the needs of the community. That's their number one job. You know, it's it, that's their job above raising money, above doing anything else, is figuring out what my community needs and making that happen.

Rob Icsezen 16:00

So I agree with all this. And then I sit in my head and I think, okay, we've got some structural issues. A big structural issue is gerrymandering...

Nisha Randle 16:12

Oh my god!

Rob Icsezen 16:13

...and the way they crack and pack districts. And I'm going to assume our listener base knows what that is. If you don't, I think we're gonna, we're going to have, I know we're going to have an episode on that soon...

Nisha Randle 16:23

You should TOTALLY have a gerrymandering episode!

Rob Icsezen 16:27

We will. But basically, it's it's putting Democrats all together, so your vote is diluted or packed, they're packing us together so that all of our power is in one district, and we have bright blue districts, and then everybody else is dispersed so that we're in red districts so that we have fewer representatives. It's done all over the country. Definitely done in Texas. That is a structural problem, that is really difficult to overcome. So it's, it's, while Harris County is bright blue, well, hopefully bright blue! we'll keep it that way! How do we how do we spread that into the gerrymandered country,

Nisha Randle 17:04

Gerrymandering is really really difficult to overcome. I, and it happens when we're not paying attention to what's going on. It happens when nobody is seeing what, paying attention to what they're doing in Austin, and they're up here cutting maps that are really jacked up, and there's no public comment, there's nobody just paying attention. I think a lot of the whole activism and resistance stuff that's come out of Trump, that is so awesome and refreshing to see, is that people are paying attention to what's happening even in Austin, even at Commissioners Court. So you can't just start ramming bills through without people being like, "Hey, hold up. What's that about?" And I, and that's what happens when you get a whole bunch of, a state that's as badly gerrymandered as Texas. I, when do we get to change the maps, is it in 20?

Rob Icsezen 18:01

I believe it's coming up right after the Census?

Nisha Randle 18:03

Okay, so that would be 2020?

Rob Icsezen 18:05

Yeah, the session right after, so '21.

Nisha Randle 18:07

Okay, yeah. So that's, the thing about it, it's like, we can't let up on what is happening in Austin. We can't, if we get rid of Trump, we can't just say, "okay, we did that, now, let's go back home!"

Rob Icsezen 18:22

You can't sit on your hands, politics never ends...

Nisha Randle 18:24

We can't, it never ends. It is a marathon, and it's a lifelong marathon that we have to be engaged in ALL the time!


Rob Icsezen 18:31

Isn't that one of the things though, about progressivism, that we, I think we need to hammer this home. It's not like, this kind of American individualism, which is this ideal where I can just not give a shit about government or politics and go do my own thing and care about me and my own. We got to jettison that crap! You must be paying attention all the time, at least at a certain level. I don't want to be worried about the fucking president's tweets every morning!

But I do think that I have to be paying attention, at least to a certain level, not what you and I, you and I are dialed into politics, but the average citizen needs to be dialed in more than they are today.

Nisha Randle 19:08

The average citizen has to be dialed in more than they are today. Because I think that's what they, and I like to call them the "Legion of Doom" and that's like, Greg...

Rob Icsezen 19:17

Wait what?!? [laughing]

Nisha Randle 19:18

"The Legion of Doom." Like all the Trump enablers, and Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott. They count on us not paying attention to what they're actually doing. So I think that we have to really just... I mean, I feel like number one, if there's like more of us than the ones of us that are working really hard, we won't have to do so much work!

Rob Icsezen 19:38

Yes, absolutely.

Nisha Randle 19:39

And then if we all just kind of take our own responsibility for government, then we won't get districts that are completely jacked up and gerrymandered, because we'll push back against those things. Trying to figure out how people stay engaged is really, really hard, because you've got life, and you've got other issues. But I think we have to rethink how we think about politics and government and civics and all of that. And, democracy isn't something that you can just let go take care of itself. It has to be worked, and people have to be engaged in it for it to work. Because if you aren't engaged, and if you aren't working in the system, then you end up with Donald Trump, you end up with states that are completely gerrymandered, you end up with states that have like, you know, where they have like these really regressive voter ID laws and voter registration laws, and then you're just, and then when you do wake up, it's almost impossible to push back against those things, because they stack the system so hard against you, the then you're like, well, what can we do? And then that just, it discourages people from being engaged. So I think that we have to really think about how we view politics and maybe not even calling it politics. Maybe it's how we view democracy and engagement in the things that shape our lives. Because it is our kids' education. It is people picking up our trash, it's people, it's our, it's potholes in the street. It's so basic, it's life! So I think we have to try to change the narrative around politics and make it something that it's, it's essential to be involved in it, because this is how you get things done. This is how you make sure that your kids get a good education, that you're not living in a city that's like spewing, you know, poisonous gas right down the street from you. You have to be involved in it...

...because this is your life!

Rob Icsezen 21:40


And that that connection, I think that, one of the things that perhaps progressives can do is kind of make that connection for people.

Nisha Randle 21:48


Rob Icsezen 21:49

Look, this happened: we won elections, and now there are consequences because of that election, those elections that occurred. And so it's on us to try to make that connection so that people can want more, and demand more, in lots of ways, not just by voting, but volunteering for the party, for example. Or I mean, making sure the party is progressive, because, and Blake Ellis was on the show not too long ago, and he said something which I think was really smart, which is that a political party, what does it stand for? It only stands for its most recent platform. The Democratic Party of 1950 was very different than the Democratic Party of today. And, you know, thankfully, in a good way. And Republicans will often like to bring up how, you know, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and [laughing]

Nisha Randle 22:40

Oh my god! That is the most ridiculous argument ever!

Rob Icsezen 22:44

As if that's meaningful in any way!

Nisha Randle 22:45

It's only meaningful to people who have no idea about history or anything like that, which is sort of like their base. And they're like, whoa, wait, that person over there said, blah, blah, blah. And then they keep repeating that ridiculous talking point. Yeah, so I, it exactly. We have got to hold the people who represent us accountable. And if they aren't doing the things that are helping our community move forward, then we get rid of them.

Rob Icsezen 23:15

What do you think about City Council? I mean, that's, that's the big election coming up. And we, there's been a lot of talk about, do we have a progressive City Council? We've got a lot of, let's be clear, I know that the party is not going to take a position because it's nonpartisan, and there are lots of races where there are multiple Democrats. So I'm not going to push you on that. But, But I do want to ask you how, regardless of who wins, whether or not it's the person who we think is most progressive or not, how do we, how do we put the pressure on them? How do we, is it go on Tuesdays to your City Council member? Is it call them? Is it all of the above?

Nisha Randle 23:53

I definitely think it's all of the above. I think it's knowing what's happening at City Council, if you can't make get to the meetings... which kind of sucks that they're on a Tuesday afternoon...

Rob Icsezen 24:02

It does, yeah...

Nisha Randle 24:05

I think nobody should be having Council remarks, or it making it open to the public in during the middle of a workday. I can totally say that! [lauging] Because that's ridiculous! People have to work. And if you want real community involvement, you need to make it where the community can be involved.

Rob Icsezen 24:23

And that's true across the board! I mean we force our elections on a Tuesday.

Nisha Randle 24:26


Rob Icsezen 24:27

That makes no sense!

Nisha Randle 24:28


Rob Icsezen 24:28

There's no reason for that, other than history.

Nisha Randle 24:30

Yes. Oh, my god, it's so ridiculous. Okay, so Texas is like the third hardest state to even vote in. And all of that is by design.

Rob Icsezen 24:39

Yes, structural issues. That is that based on the history of thite supremacy, and, and the subjugation and oppression of non white male voters. That's where that comes from, unequivocally.

Nisha Randle 24:51

Absolutely. So I think that, new council members that are progressive are going to make sure that they're really, really accessible to their constituents. They'll hold town halls, they will not just be out here trying to have photo ops. But they're really out here listening to people. I think somebody needs to figure out how we can have like, Council at night maybe once a month, or something like that! But just make it more accessible to voters or, and to make it more accessible, so people feel like they can be a part of the process, and a part of what's actually going on.

Rob Icsezen 25:28

So here's a thing about City Council that bothers me. And I've kind of, you know, tried to click around and learn what I can and get into it. But man, the city budget is really complicated. The way they kind of silo different pieces of it. And the way you know, we have these things called "TIRZ"s that exist because of our revenue cap. And the revenue cap itself is hard to...

Nisha Randle 25:49

Does anbody even know what the revenue cap even means? [laughing]

Rob Icsezen 25:52

Yeah it's, I could try to explain it, but I'm not going to...

Nisha Randle 25:54


Rob Icsezen 25:55

We should probably bring someone on for that. But but I think it's the problem. You know. I think that, of course, and this is a big progressive idea, we in Texas have a problem with taxation. But we in Texas also have shitty government services because of our problems with taxation. Yeah, I mean, we got to pay for this stuff somehow! And so when we want to be fiscally, I won't say conservative, I'll say fiscally responsible, which I think that's a progressive value too! Just because you're spending money doesn't mean you're fiscally irresponsible. While we do that we overstep and we have terrible government, or let's say, government services that are not where they should be by any stretch,

Nisha Randle 26:39


Rob Icsezen 26:42

That was a lot, sorry! [laughing]

Nisha Randle 26:42

That was a lot! [laughing] That was a lot. I think that that the more accessible and transparent, anybody that knows how to read a spreadsheet should be able to go up and look and see what's up with the budget, and see where we're spending money here, where we're spending money there, what's going on. But there's so many layers built into how all of these things work, that the average person can't even figure it out.

Rob Icsezen 27:10

Like this whole thing with the firefighters! Again, I'm not going to touch on that, because it's very controversial, but you know, there's a budget, there's like only so much the city can do. And when you increase pay in one place, then you got to cut it somewhere else. The only way to solve that problem is increase your source of money. And the way you do that is to raise taxes. But we cannot do that because we live in Texas.

Nisha Randle 27:30

No, you can't raise taxes, and you can't really not have these vital services. So what are you left with? So somebody has to be the bad guy in all of this.

Yeah you probably are!

Rob Icsezen 27:41

I think people should run on the platform of cutting the revenue cap, implementing or amending the Texas State Constitution so that we can put an income tax on this state! I mean, I'm going to get shot just for saying that probably! [laughing]

Well, and my understanding is that they were considering hardening the ban on income tax in the state of Texas, which, technically I believe they could implement an income tax in Texas, but it would require a popular vote of the state, which would never happen. So it's effectively a ban. I believe Governor Abbott was talking about just banning it legislatively, so that they couldn't even put it to a vote.

Nisha Randle 28:22


Rob Icsezen 28:23

Which I mean, just think about that, as a matter of principle. What does that say about the values held by, what did you call them, the "Evil Empire"?

Nisha Randle 28:32

Oh, the "Legion of Doom" [laughing]

Rob Icsezen 28:33

The "Legion of Doom"! That's even better! "Evil Empire", "Legion of Doom", same thing. But that the values are, are just, let's say it's coming from a place of privilege.

Nisha Randle 28:34

Oh, definitely.

Rob Icsezen 28:38

Yeah. I mean, you can't, it's it's very easy to say, we're not going to tax people if you don't rely on government services.

Nisha Randle 28:53

Yeah, but they don't have problems with sale tax, which is regressive. And just, you know, taxes poor people, or poor people are more affected by it. So it just, people's budgets are people's values. I can't remember where I read that. But it's like...

Rob Icsezen 29:09

Say that again!

Nisha Randle 29:10

People's budgets are people's value.

Rob Icsezen 29:12

I love that. Yes!

Nisha Randle 29:13

So we see what they value or what the GOP values in Texas. And it's definitely not the average working person. It's definitely not so.

Rob Icsezen 29:25

Well, and that is that, I think that that's a good point, because, you know, progressivism again, I'm going to hit on this I hit on this almost every episode: snowflake fucking conservatives. They don't like to challenge their own values. They they make fun of us, they use that word to describe us, because we we make hard choices. We we try to push each other to question our language, to question the the conventions that we grew up with, and say, well, maybe that's not right. Maybe we should think about that. And then the budget is an expression of that, isn't it?

Nisha Randle 29:58

It's definitely an active of that.

Rob Icsezen 30:00

I mean, to make the hard choice to raise taxes, that's hard. But it's, it doesn't require that much thought, I mean, you can connect those dots. But the snowflake conservative does not like to do math. Math is hard. Right? [laughing]

Nisha Randle 30:18

[laughing] Math is hard, though!

Rob Icsezen 30:21

[laughing] But we got some really good math people on our side, right? Okay, well, so the battleground. I mean, this, all of these things put together, what can people do? I mean, what, what, thing...

Nisha Randle 30:34

There is A LOT that you can do! [laughing]

Rob Icsezen 30:35

So we got people who listen to this show. A lot of them I'm sure are activists, but I'm hoping that there's some, and that's great. I'm hoping there's some folks out there who are like maybe considering it, and they have called an elected or maybe you know, put a sign in their yard, or "I don't know if it will matter!" What can that person do, I want to get that person charged!

Nisha Randle 30:56

That person can become a supporter of the party or a supporter of a progressive group, like Indivisible. That person can help a campaign and knock on some doors or make some calls. That person can talk to another person that they know, who isn't, you know, a regular voter or whatever, and just talk to them about what's going on, what do they think that's important. Aand, and just become an evangelist for voting and for becoming civically engaged. And I think that's probably the easiest lift, but the biggest thing that you can do, because there's, you know, all these people... I'm surrounded by people who are activists and who vote all the time. But if I step just a little bit outside of my bubble, and there's people who are like, "Oh, I didn't even know there was election going on." So we're not talking to enough people still, we're not, I think that the best way to engage voters is to have conversations with them. So you know, become a Precinct Chair. Or if you already have a a Chair in your Precinct, become a Precinct Captain, and get to know your neighbors and talk to them and and figure out what's important to them, and how they can fit into us turning Texas blue. If you are privileged enough to be able to provide financial support, then become a supporter of the party or support Indivisible, or any number of progressive groups out there. But do something. And don't do anything that's outside of your comfort zone. But you might want to think about pushing yourself just a little bit.

Rob Icsezen 32:31

Yeah, let's challenge that notion though. Because, because I think a lot of people, justifiably so, are hesitant, because you know, they're afraid some person in a, a dude in a MAGA hat is going to start yelling at them, if they say anything even mildly progressive.

Nisha Randle 32:44


Rob Icsezen 32:44

They don't want to be in politics. They see all the crap on social media. It's very aggressive and nasty, and then just check out. I want to challenge those people and say, don't check out. First, number one do not check out because when you check out they win.

Nisha Randle 32:57


Rob Icsezen 32:58

I know, that's kind of, I don't know, perhaps cliche, but it's true.

Nisha Randle 33:02

No it's true.

Rob Icsezen 33:03

Yeah. And so that person, once a week, where you might shy away from a political conversation when you're at the office or you know, around your kid's friend's parents or something like that, and someone makes an offhand comment, that is wrong, or in opposition to values that that are progressive values. And you are a progressive, say something. You see something, say something, right?

Nisha Randle 33:30

Yeah, there you go. Say something. Yeah, do that.

Rob Icsezen 33:34

I think that moves the dial doesn't it?

Nisha Randle 33:35

I think it definitely moves the dial. And I think that I also want to say real quick that social media is not real life.

Rob Icsezen 33:43

What are you talking about? [laughing]

Nisha Randle 33:44

[laughing] All the drama you see on Facebook, and Twitter isn't happening in the streets. People are a lot kinder and a lot nicer in real life. Most people are out here just trying to make it, trying to take care of their kids and live their lives. If you have a conversation with them. That's respectful and honest and intentional, I'm, 9 times out of 10, they're going to have that same conversation with you back. So don't think that there's a bunch of Red Hat people walking down the street with torches and stuff. That's out there. But...

Rob Icsezen 34:12

Yeah, unfortunately

Nisha Randle 34:12

That's not the norm. Like most of us, for real, even, you know, even if we're on different sides of the aisle, just want healthy, happy families. Healthy, happy families need health care. So start a conversation about that, start a conversation about something that you both have something in common with, and and take it from there. But like Rob said, don't be afraid to have a conversation with somebody, because you think you saw something on social media or something, because that's not real life! [laughing]

Rob Icsezen 34:43

Yeah, it's not real life, but man, I understand the hesitancy because it's like this hyper focused kind of bubble, where, you know, we have these computers in our pockets, and we look at them constantly. We have our faces in our hands all the time and not paying attention to the real world. And it's easy to think that everything looks like that outside. Put the fucking phone down and hug somebody!

Nisha Randle 35:04


Rob Icsezen 35:04

You know, have a face to face, eye to eye conversation, and so much communication happens. And even, you know, I want to say this, this might be controversial, but hug a conservative! You know, I don't know! [laughing]

Nisha Randle 35:17

So Rob can hug conservatives! [laughing] I'm probably not going to, but I like the sentiment! I like the sentiment because like I said, we're all just people.

Rob Icsezen 35:24

We can get there.

Nisha Randle 35:25

Trying to figure out how we can do the best for our families in our community.

Rob Icsezen 35:29

Yeah, is that, that's not a snowflake thing. I think the snowflake thing would be being afraid to hug somebody!

Nisha Randle 35:35

Being afraid to hug somebody and immediately saying that they're some kind of MAGA fool or you know, a racist or something like that.

Rob Icsezen 35:42

That's easy! It is easy to just...

Nisha Randle 35:44

That's the easiest thing to do, because you don't have to put any energy into something like that. To have a more thoughtful, intentional interaction with people makes you have to go a little bit outside of your comfort zone, and make you think a little bit. And we all need to do more of that.

Rob Icsezen 35:58

Yeah, I mean, you have to aknowledge, the humanity of the person.

Nisha Randle 36:01


Rob Icsezen 36:02

And I think that's step one, once we first all start acknowledging our mutual humanity, things, things get better.

Nisha Randle 36:09

Well, things definitely are better when you imagine your mutual humanity because that person come becomes not your enemy, but another person that you have humanity in common with. I think that we have to figure out how, especially because we are so polarized, to see each other as people and not adversaries, and that starts, I'm able to talk to you if you're another person and not somebody that I'm in some, you know, ideological war with, you know.

Rob Icsezen 36:42

Yeah, and I think that the the mantra of focusing locally helps that. Because, you know, you see the president on TV, and I don't want to hug that fool, but

Nisha Randle 36:52

No, we're not hugging him.

Rob Icsezen 36:53

We're not going to hug him, but, your neighbor who might not be a progressive, gosh, if you sit down and talk with that person, they might become one or they might start embracing some progressive values on an ad hoc basis, and then you slowly move things forward. Your neighbor, your person at the grocery store, or whatever it might be, that's, that's where you can move the dial. So focus, focus, focus locally.

Nisha Randle 37:16


Rob Icsezen 37:18

Okay, well, that's the battleground!

Nisha Randle 37:20


Rob Icsezen 37:20

Do we have our marching orders?

Nisha Randle 37:21

I think we have our marching orders. Get out there and do something! It doesn't matter how small it is, doesn't matter how big it is. Just do something. It's going to take all of us to flip this state. And that's going to be a lot of work. But we can do it, if we all put our boots on, get out there and start talking to people.

Rob Icsezen 37:37

Do what you can, other than just voting! Everybody should vote!

Nisha Randle 37:40

Everybody should vote!

Rob Icsezen 37:41

But, do at least one thing beyond voting.

Nisha Randle 37:44


Rob Icsezen 37:44

And once you do that, do one more thing!

Nisha Randle 37:45


Rob Icsezen 37:47

Well, Nisha, thank you so much.

Nisha Randle 37:49

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it, this was cool.

Rob Icsezen 37:52

This has been a lot of fun. Yeah, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Nisha Randle 37:55


Rob Icsezen 37:55

Next week, we're going to be talking about the very serious problem of access to abortion, and the work being done to address that problem by the Clinic Access Support Network ( So if this discussion made you think, motivated you, or hell even made you angry, hit that subscribe button at or wherever you get your podcasts and don't forget to tell your friends about us. Also, we've revamped our website with more information and accessibility. Now our podcasts have been transcribed and are available to read. We're populating episodes as they come along and working on back episodes, but all new episodes are going to be available shortly after publish, shortly after publication.

Rob Icsezen 38:32

***end music begins to fade in ***

Again, so visit us at Also, as always, we'd love to hear from you. If you have a comment topic idea or a guest suggestion, email me at rob at htownprogressive dot com, or, we have a new phone number, remember, call us and leave a message with your comments at 281-915-9561, again, that's 281-915-9561, and we'll put your message on the show! Thanks for listening! I'm Rob Icsezen, and this, is H-Town Progressive!!!

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