I think it is absolutely hilarious that Texas House Democrats have fled the state to break quorum and stonewall a Republican majority that has prioritized a re-districting bill to put more Republicans in the U.S. House ahead of the state budget. What really makes me laugh is the way Republicans (especially ultra-conservative ones) are getting all hot and bothered by it. From an Associated Press article:
“What these members have done represents politics at its worst,” said David Rushing, state chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas. “This walkout is an absolutely shameful display of partisanship that ought not be tolerated by the public.”
I love how when the minority party tries to keep the majority from putting their own party’s interests above the governing of the state, it’s a “shameful display of partisanship.” And we certainly wouldn’t want anybody practicing politics in the statehouse! What’s next, preaching in church? It’s madness, I tell you!
The Democrats in exile have even offered to return if the Republican leadership will drop re-districting from the agenda. The standoff is at least as much the fault of Republicans as it is that of Democrats. If the Republicans in Washington can’t keep their majority by virtue of their goals and ideals, they don’t deserve to keep it. There’s a time and place for redistricting, and that’s when a census has been taken and boundaries need to be redrawn to ensure equal representation – not when you want a few more seats for your party next time around.
When a minority is getting steamrolled by a majority, it is entirely justifiable and appropriate to use the rules that are in place to protect your position. Clearly a group of legislators more high-minded than the Republicans controlling the Texas House right now thought it was important that at least two-thirds of the body consider a piece of legislation worth discussion before it could be voted on. I admire the Democrats in the U.S. Senate fillibustering Bush-nominees to the federal bench for the same reason – if you can’t even nominate a candidate that three-fifths think is worth voting on, there’s something wrong. Why is nobody asking why these nominees are so offensive to Senate Democrats that not even 9 of them will sign a cloture petition? What I think is really ridiculous is pissing and moaning about how the rules get in the way of the majority. Senate Republicans actually want to change cloture rules on confirmation filibusters just to ram these nominees through! Screw the rules, as long as they get their way!
Saying that the majority should be able to rule unchecked is no better than advocating mob rule. If Republicans in Texas really want to be able to push through redistricting, they’d better go back and win 5 more seats next time around so they can have a quorum of nothing but Republicans. They probably will, since they’ve managed to paint this in the press as an obstruction of justice and standing in the way of progress. These Democrat legislators will have an uphill re-election battle, especially in swing districts. Good luck to them!
[UPDATE – 3:00PM] – The Thursday midnight deadline for new legislation to be introduced is going to pass without re-districting making the agenda. The renegade Democrats will be back in the legislature Friday morning, in time to salvage most of the spending and budget bills that should be the true priority for the Texas legislature.
On another note, it wasn’t until after I wrote this entry that I discovered how extensive U.S. Rep Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) involvement was in the whole mess. He wanted Texas congressional districts re-drawn to throw 5-7 congressional seats to the Republican party, tipping the state margin from 17-15 in favor of Democrats to as much as 22-10 for Republicans. Who’s engaging in a “shameful display of partisanship?” It’s absolutely outrageous in a non-census year to consider that kind of radical re-drawing of districts, and even more so for raw political gain. Rep. DeLay ought to be ashamed of himself. Yet again, it’s an example of what I wrote above – screw the rules, as long as they get their way!