What Are Texas Democrats Thinking?

Posted: Jul 13, 2021 1:05 PM

They're doing everything they can to save democracy, their cheerleaders would reply, in a self-righteous huff.  Sure enough, it appears as though lefty Twitter is in love with this stunt, which was an inevitable reaction.  May I remind you before we proceed further that Twitter really, really does not reflect real life -- especially not in Texas.  It stands to reason that this type of audience would salivate over an indignant, theatrical move by Democrats.  Team Blue is super into grand romantic gestures from Team Blue:

The aforementioned stunt is Texas Democratic legislators' decision to flee the state in order to again deny quorum, thus stalling the GOP's elections bill.  They did so at the end of the regular session in late May, forcing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to convene a special session to address incomplete business.  We wrote about the controversy here.  Now they're back to the same playbook, which they also employed years ago, circa 2003, in a futile effort to block a GOP redistricting plan.  Similar 'fleebagger' maneuvers have also been attempted by legislators in states like Wisconsin (Democrats), Indiana (Democrats) and Oregon (Republicans) over the past decade.  Let's pretend, only for the sake of argument, that Lone Star State Democrats' rhetoric about the proposed law is accurate -- and that dramatic White House assertions about such legislation are fair-minded.  They're not, of course, for the record.  You can read about the Texas bill here (some improvements should, and reportedly will, be made), and listen to a conservative response to Jen Psaki's hysteria here.  But again, let's pretend.

What on earth are these Democrats thinking, from a public relations perspective alone?  Their big move is to decamp from Texas and urge national Democrats to pass the a bill that is dead as a doornail in the US Senate.  Not only do Senate Democrats lack the votes to kill the legislative filibuster (more on that in a moment), they also lack even a simple majority to pass their disastrous federal takeover of elections.  So the alleged task at hand for this Texas contingent is a nonstarter right from the jump, which somehow feels fitting.  They reportedly considered escaping to Arizona or West Virginia to "lobby" recalcitrant Democratic Senators, but instead settled on...Washington, DC.  So these strategic geniuses are going to refuse to show up for work in Austin, instead flying to one of the most detested places in America, on privately chartered jets, loaded up with beer -- and to cap it all off, they're documenting it all with gleeful selfies in which they're grinning unmasked, which would get any of the Little People immediately tossed off a commercial flight.  What a look:

Who thought, 'hey maybe this would be a good idea?'  And how did everyone else quickly agree?  And as they congratulate themselves with hilariously out-of-touch professions of sacrifice and grandeur (they're raising money, of course), Texas Republicans are blasting them and pointing out that their booze fest doesn't even feature Texan beer (again, fitting).  Alley oop:

Abbott is vowing to have the delinquent lawmakers arrested and compelled to appear in the chamber as soon as they return to the jurisdiction, which they all certainly will; as much as some of these leftists might prefer living in DC over Texas, they haven't moved permanently.  Their families, jobs, and lives are waiting for them.  The stunt won't last.  They know this, naturally, so their goal ought to be to engender as much sympathy among Texas voters as possible while they're at it.  Jetting off to the Swamp, chugging Miller Lites, and enjoying mask-free travel (unavailable to mere normals) does not seem optimal in the 'winning hearts and minds' department.  They'll be leaning heavily on the media to help prop up their approach, and expectations are set, as ever:

Many journos don't need much prodding or pressure to carry water for the Democratic Party; it comes naturally to them.  They explicitly or implicitly view their work as political activism.  And when the stakes are high, the line-toeing is often even more enthusiastic and unanimous.  Finally, I can't help but wonder how partisans, including journalists, who've been agitating against the filibuster for months (after embracing its use for six-plus years, when the "good" guys were using it) can rationalize support for this form of obstruction.  A majority of the legislature elected by Texans wants to pass electoral reforms for that state.  The minority party is using a tool at their disposal to block or delay that outcome.  Hacks will always find creative ways to defend their side and attack the opposition, but in cases like this, stripping away all the preening, it just boils down to "I like when my tribe does it, but not the other tribe, because we are good and they are bad."  Principle!  Enjoy your stupid vacation, Texas Democrats.  But, um, do you have a math problem?

This wouldn't resolve the quorum issue in the lower chamber, but it could allow legislative progress to be made on the bill while the stunt is underway.

UPDATE - I laughed out loud: