Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) announced to Texans via Twitter that he and his colleagues were making a great sacrifice. He wants you to know, “We have left behind our families, our livelihoods, and our beloved Texas.”
What drove this grand flight from “beloved Texas”? An election integrity bill. Specifically, House Bill 3, authored by Representative Andrew Murr (R-Bandera). Rather than discussing the bill, Talarico and over fifty other Texas Democrat legislators abruptly left the state. They dubbed Governor Abbott’s special session the “suppression session”.
What should be a quorum of elected officials rolling up their sleeves and coming together, solving important issues pertaining to Texas citizens, has turned into something from a high-budget movie that failed at the box office.
All the necessary elements came together: a canned, cliche-ridden script, (claims of minority suppression and the fall of democracy itself) a predictable storyline, (we’re saving democracy by stopping duly elected legislatures from fulfilling their duties) and un-relatable characters (hard to feel the pain of “left behind families” when you fly in a private jet paid with funds raised by failed Democrat candidate and millionaire Robert Francis O’Rourke).
But don’t worry! The Democrats want you to know that they’re doing this not for themselves, but for their fellow Texans!
It’s worth pointing out, as Rep. Murr stated, the special session isn’t just addressing election integrity regulations. Additional funding for retired teachers, foster care reforms, and potential property tax reforms are slated for discussion in this special session. Children in foster homes are sometimes overlooked by society, but I guess they weren’t marginalized enough. Maybe there weren’t enough “foster children of color” for the Democrats to champion in this “suppression session.”
After reading the bill, I noticed that voting time actually increases, and are standardized throughout the state. It would also bans drop boxes so that citizens’ votes couldn’t be compromised. Minority populations, especially in densely populated urban areas like Houston, are vulnerable to dropbox fraud.
Think about it. Over fifty Democrats hopped on a plane to leave Texas. Not just any plane, but a private jet. Aren’t they worried about their carbon footprint? Apparently super spreader activities are also not important, as lawmakers flew maskless, and six of them contracted Corona virus somewhere along the way.
This movie-esque, supposed sacrifice of not seeing your family is an easy sacrifice when you know they are just fine at home.
Representative Talarico doesn’t want Texans to think it’s some fancy jet, though. No, he wants those of us flying commercial in our masks to know, that it doesn’t have “fancy couches.” He also pontificated about “democracy withering on the vine.” Apparently, it’s not going to wither all that quickly, because he stopped the process of democracy to flee the state, despite Governor Abbott’s warning.
However, in the midst of histrionics from this poorly-cast movie, there are a few people who stand out. Notable among those people is Representative Ray Lopez, (D-San Antonio) who took the time to schedule a phone interview with me when five others would not.
I asked him what he wanted to accomplish by leaving Texas, and he told me that he believes in advocating for federalized elections, that continuity is the most important thing, and having a federal standard is good because he feels it lets everyone have a voice.
Additionally, the representative felt that capping the voting booth hours (24 hour drop boxes are not in HB3) is a “subtle” example of voter suppression. He wants to “make it clear” that Republicans are being “subtle” about their suppression.
His hope is that when they return on August 8th, that it is with Let The People Vote Act passed, thus federalizing elections in Texas, and they can then work with their fellow lawmakers. Though I do not agree with his premises, I can respect his reasoning, and the fact that he is fighting for what he believes in. He is not trying to make a show, unlike some other notable representatives. Truly, our prayer should
Truly, our prayer should always be that officials, whether with a D or an R after their names, are not grandstanding or vying for fame, but genuinely wanting what’s best for Texas and coming together to make that happen. Some Democrats did stay behind to fight for their constituents.
It is a sad twist of irony that the Democrats left with 12 Miller Lights but will come back with six Coronas.
Casey Lay is a Bandera native currently studying at Harding University in Searcy, AR, as an English major.