Texas Senate passes Republican election integrity bill despite Democrats' political theatre

AP Photo/Eric Gay

The Texas Senate passed a Republican-backed election integrity bill on Tuesday while Texas House Democrats and eight, maybe nine Texas state senators were performing for the national press in Washington, D.C. The clown show included tons of coverage on social media because the point is that these state lawmakers are raising money off their political stunt. They are dependent on social media to help them do that.

The bill in the Texas Senate was passed by a vote of 18-4. It was a party-line vote. Though eight Democrats fled to D.C. as House Democrats did, there was still a quorum present Tuesday, so the vote was taken. A ninth Democrat may have joined them in D.C. With 22 of 31 members present, there was a quorum. It should be noted that bail legislation was also passed on Tuesday. Both are top issues for Texas voters.

To read any reports on this story, except on some conservative sites, you will find that the bill is described as one that suppresses voting rights, that the bill limits voting. What the bill in Texas actually does is increase early voting hours, provide additional drop boxes, and assure mail-in ballots include voter identification. Voter id is already required in Texas to vote in-person during early voting and for election day voting. In other words, these are not suppressive actions at all. The actions taken by some Democrat county clerks during the pandemic to assist voters who preferred to avoid large crowds in voting locations, such as drive-in voting and 24-hour voting, were not in Texas election law. These provisions have been eliminated in the legislation. The pandemic will not be a concern in the next election.

That the vote was held in the state senate is good news. The bad news is that if the lawmakers do not return before the end of the special session, the bills will languish. So, another special session will be called and they will do it all over again until it passes. It’s inevitable but Democrats are committed to being useful idiots for national Democrats. They are in D.C. to pressure the Senate to take up and pass the For the People Act passed in the House. Chuck Schumer and Kamala Harris have already met with them. The narcissism is strong with these Texas Democrats and they truly believe they are heroes. To read their social media posts, you would think they are single-handedly saving the republic. It’s embarrassing.

Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, the elections bill’s author, pushed back against Democratic criticisms of the bill as a means of voter suppression and said his legislation included “common sense reforms” to ensure the integrity of elections.

“This bill is about making it both easy to vote and harder to cheat,” he said, and blamed criticism of his bill on a “horrible, misleading, false national debate coming out of Washington.”

Democrats responded differently. Note the reference to legislating in good faith. Nothing says doing something in good faith like up and running away from the task, right? Self-awareness is hard.

“Rather than continuing to fruitlessly debate Republicans who refuse to legislate in good faith, Texas Senate Democrats decided to take matters into their own hands in order to secure the voting rights of Texans — especially voters of colors, seniors and those with disabilities — and work with our partners at the federal level to pass voting rights legislation that would rein in discriminatory voter suppression laws and unfair redistricting practices,” the nine senators who left Austin said in a joint statement.

Their “partners at the federal level” want to take control from states and federalize elections. Texas Democrats are supporting having less power at the state level, not securing the voting rights of Texans. They like to point at the previous president and the “Big Lie” (Democrats love to adopt Nazi lingo) while, in fact, the lie is in how Democrats at all levels of government are characterizing the bills. So far seventeen states have passed election integrity laws.

Democrats even cast dispersions on Republicans who took out controversial parts of the election integrity bill. The four Democrats who remained in Austin, led by one who wishes to be Houston’s next mayor, John Whitmire, described the changes as putting lipstick on a pig. “How do we stand here and discuss something you feel so certain about, [you were] just as certain a month ago, and now we’ve got a new bill?” Democrats will not accept yes for an answer because reasonable behavior isn’t good for fundraising and the base demands a constant diet of red meat.

Joe Biden and national Democrats are desperate. They see momentum for Joe’s agenda slipping away. Biden’s speech Tuesday in Philadelphia was despicable. Imagine the sitting president targeting an individual state specifically (Texas) and many states generally for working to protect free and fair elections. He continues to spout hyperbole while claiming that is not what he is doing. Calling election integrity reforms the arrival of Jim Crow 2.0 is unconscionable. Saying that these laws are the biggest threat to our country since the Civil War negates true threats our nation has suffered since then – World War II, the terror attacks on 9/11/01, for example.

Republican “anti-voting laws,” President Joe Biden claimed during his demagogic speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this afternoon, are the most “significant threat to our democracy since the Civil War.” These laws are “odious,” “pernicious,” “vicious,” and “unconscionable,” a “subversion and suppression,” the “21st-century Jim Crow,” and the sure sign of an emerging “autocracy.” Biden’s fabricated panic offers lots of space for hyperbole, but precious little room for specifics. I was prepared to fact-check Biden’s contentions about new election laws, but the president offered few details. Perhaps he comprehends that most Americans would probably find voter-integrity laws rather innocuous.

Biden must also have sensed how preposterous his hyperbole sounded, littering his speech with a bunch of “literallys” and “for reals.” None of the voting laws passed in 17 states — some drafted better than others — comes anywhere in the vicinity of “authoritarian.” To compare photo-ID laws to Jim Crow is to cheapen history. Then again, Biden, doesn’t have a problem using Goebbels’s “Big Lie” formulation, either — the kind of Nazi reference that Democrats pretend to be upset by when used by Republicans.

Biden is joining in on dividing a nation already completely divided as he calls himself a unifier. President Unity is incapable of delivering a speech without slamming conservatives and now he is going after individual states over election law. He offers no alternatives or solutions to his wild charges against Republicans, only nonsensical criticism. He sounds as though he doesn’t understand what he is saying in his comparison to the days of Jim Crow. Maybe he doesn’t. The staff that writes his speeches and helps him memorize talking points are apparently clueless, too. Democrats may score points now in the media and in social media but they will face voters weary of such political theatre in the mid-term elections. The arrogance of Texas Democrats may just be adding fuel to the fire.