It’s tough being the minority party in a state legislature, especially when you’ve occupied that position for a long time. Anyone who doubts it can ask North Carolina Republicans, who were in the minority for over a century until they took control in 2010.
Democrats in the Texas state legislature have been the minority party only since 2003, with Republicans having a trifecta with majorities in both houses plus Republican Greg Abbott in the governor’s mansion. While not having the ability to implement your agenda is frustrating, it’s not an excuse to do what House Democrats there did last week.
Last Monday, as a special session was underway, a large group of Democratic state legislators abandoned their posts and piled into charter buses, which took them to private jets that flew them to Washington, D.C.
At issue is an election-reform bill that Texas Democrats are trying to kill by denying Republicans the necessary quorum.
The situation that has developed as a result of the Democratic lawmakers cutting and running has gotten pretty intense, with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott threatening to arrest them upon return and House Republicans voting to stand behind such a move.
The optics for Democrats here are simply terrible. In one photo from one of the charter buses, a case of Miller Lite beer could be seen, giving off the impression that Democrats were ready to party and booze it up on the taxpayer’s dime after fleeing their state.
Other Texas Democrats, like Gene Wu, appear to be spending the entirety of their time in Washington, D.C., playing on Twitter and tweeting selfies and photos of the “famous” politicos they’ve met, along with giving hourly updates as to what they’ve been eating — which was paid for by taxpayer-funded per diem.
In a particularly low point, Wu — who may or may not have had a few too many Miller Lite beers — jumped on Twitter to make fun of the appearance of Republican House colleague Briscoe Cain. Wu used a photo of Cain to “joke” that he “looked like a serial killer” during a recent interview, and then posted another photo not long after that again making fun of his looks and accusing him of being a “cosplaying” cowboy.
Cain has autism, so I don’t think I need to go into detail in explaining why Wu’s actions were so deeply offensive. Not surprisingly, after receiving several days of adoring coverage and ego-plumping from the mainstream media, Wu felt no need to apologize.
Others have pretended they are making great sacrifices on par with civil rights icons from days gone by. In one photo posted to Twitter, a trio of Democratic women demonstrated that the struggle to do a live broadcast with MSNBC while driving a bus is real.
“It takes a village,” Texas Democratic Rep. Gina Hinojosa tweeted, using the hashtag #WomenHelpingWomen.
In another photo taken in a hotel bathroom, women’s lingerie was seen hanging over the shower curtain rod, with the following caption: “As most Texans, tho, this is what we’re doing tonight—using whatever is accessible, washing our clothes in the sink.”
Texas Democrat James Talarico tweeted to let people know that while he and his fellow Democrats have sacrificed so much, what they were doing was “nothing compared to the sacrifices brave Americans have made throughout history to protect the sacred right to vote.”
Why anyone would want to be associated with this outright buffoonery is beyond me. “Embarrassing” doesn’t even come close to covering it, but it’s the best I can do for now.
Last I heard, Texans weren’t supposed to be the types who’d bail when the going got tough. “Flying on a Private Jet Junket to DC!” doesn’t have the same cachet as “Remember the Alamo!” — that is for sure.
I guess one lesson to be (re)learned is that there are exceptions to that rule, exceptions that come when there’s a “D” beside their names.
Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.