Off to Washington DC on Monday they flew, maskless with Miller Lites in hand — three-score Democratic members of the Texas legislature, breaking the quorum required for any vote, abandoning their duties at a called special session. Washington DC, where the real power-brokers live and the Vice President of the United States. On from there to a PR opportunity with the President himself.
What a telling commentary on the state of American politics, where the story gets around that there’s only one side — the progressive side — worthy of attention on account of its self-trumpeted devotion to the people’s rights. Kamala Harris called the stunt ‘as American as apple pie’ — and sadly she’s not altogether wrong.
Never mind that Texans, who I am informed are recognizable as people, gave Republicans majorities in both Houses of their legislature, with the expectation that the two parties would come to some civilized agreement on public policy, including civilized rules and guidelines for exercise of the franchise.
One of the Texas lawmakers excoriated the result of the House vote that followed hours of public testimony on the bill, which aims to establish tighter controls on mail-in and early voting in the state.
‘Even though there was overwhelming opposition,’ said Rep. Philip Cortez, ‘it still passed’. Uh, wait a minute. The opposition was so ‘overwhelming’ that it failed to overwhelm? I suggest a logical disconnect here: not the Democrats’ first. Let us count them:
- The voting rights bill (a follow-up to the one that failed the first time the Democrats also went streaming and screaming from the State Capitol so as to thwart further action) doesn’t take the vote away from a single solitary soul of whatever race, creed, color, or sexual identity
- It doesn’t even make voting hard. It regularizes and standardizes procedures all across the state, in places large and small . (Texas, with 254 counties, has lots of both.) The bill sets certain standards that were unduly relaxed during the pandemic when Harris County (Houston) improvised measures like drive-through voting and 24-hour voting
- A once-conventional, now seemingly exotic, political truth is that democratic governance involves compromise — the recession of competing ideas and demands in the interest of establishing a viable framework for action. The Age of Entitlement seems to have inspired the political class — we need to acknowledge that Republicans are no more immune to the fever than Democrats — to issue ukases, decrees and manifestoes instead of mere proposals to be considered, debated and voted on. Compromise? That’s not for big boys. Note the insistence of the Biden administration and its congressional allies on adoption of their apparently inviolable mandates for spending and redistribution programs. Texas Republicans changed the voting bill to meet particular Democratic objections and might have changed it more with a little more head-scratching and face-to-face, but the Democrats prefer PR coups and virtue-signaling to the tedious grind of conventional politics as envisaged in the Constitution
- The jump to Washington DC is in fact, whatever Vice President Harris says, profoundly un-American. Rather, they journeyed, showily, to the center of everything; the imperial capital. The media in Washington give you attention that you wouldn’t get otherwise
It’s not hysterical to say that Democrats are today trying to engineer a new American revolution of sorts. The first revolution, accomplished by the united efforts of the independent colonies, left us with a federal system mindful of differing ideas and outlooks. That’s not on, anymore. Which is why the President and Vice President have so witheringly dismissed the choices, in electoral terms, of a state that, not so coincidentally, didn’t fall for their blandishments in 2020. Texas is still a state mostly run by — horrors! — Republicans. That has to change! Crank up the propaganda machine! Show the world if you can how Democrats mean to restore democracy — through the passage of their own bill, HR-1, which essentially federalizes American voting practices.
Donald Trump, with his unproven complaints about the ‘stolen’ election, doesn’t make things easier, alas, for conservatives laboring to rationalize democratic voting norms. But that isn’t the present point. The minor present point is that mild, reasonable Texas-crafted adjustments are likely to pass anyway, if not in this special legislative session, then in another one. The major point is that the fugitive Texas Democrats are a bunch of vain, self-promoting cry-babies.