Blog Post

Dec 02

The Penalties for Refusing To Participate In Politics

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors” – Plato

The 88th Legislative Session of the State of Texas convenes on January 10th.

As SREC Committeewoman for Senate District 16, this writer has served on the Legislative Priorities Committee for my past two terms.  What an enlightening as well as disappointing experience to find that in spite of Republicans having held the majority in the Texas House since 2001, some years as a super majority, the reality is that pitifully few of the Republican Party of Texas' Legislative Priorities have been passed. 

Every two years about 9,000 delegates are chosen to attend the Republican Party of Texas State Convention.  We spend hours on the floor debating which legislation we feel is most critical to pass to retain Republican Leadership in Texas.  We send these Priorities to our Republican Legislators and have, up until 2018, sat back and expected our elected officials to pass a significant part of our priorities.  There was always the shrug of the shoulders with the excuse "We just ran out of time.  We'll try again next session." Always next time. Despite having been one of the top priorities for many sessions, Constitutional Carry was only passed after the 10,000 phone calls of grassroots activists who refused to let up and finally made their synced voices heard did success happen in the last 87th Legislative Session with HB 1927.

Our #1 Legislative Priority is to protect our elections.  We have found that Democrats want every vote to count, legal or not.  Republicans want every LEGAL vote to count.  The counterproductivity of appointing a Democrat chair to this important committee would negate every bit of the progress made in SB 1 in the 87th Session.  We run the risk of every one of our priorities going down in flames by appointing Democrat Chairs for our most important committees.  Committee chairs can stall a Legislative Priority bill in Committee without so much as a single hearing until it runs out the clock.  During the last session, the Dems were delighted to leave the House Floor and broke quorum in order to avoid taking a vote on the Election Integrity bill.  Wasted 30 days of the 140 total days of Legislative Session and required TWO Special Sessions to continue the People's business at $1 million+ each.   All with absolutely no repercussions or penalties.  As Speaker Phelan told them, "Well, I can't stop you from leaving." (wink, wink) 

So on January 10, 2023, the Texas House will convene the 88th Legislative Session and elect the Speaker of the House to preside over the 88th Session.  Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, is running with the promise of appointing  Democrats to 40% of our Committees. Of course, he is backed by 100% of the minority Democrats and how ever many Republicans will cross over to vote with the Democrats to elect the Speaker.  Why have the last 3 Speakers bought their power with 100% Democrat support before Republicans ever input?  Rep. Tony Tinderholt is running for Speaker with the promise of abolishing Democrat Committee Chairs.  He will need the majority of Republicans to accomplish this.  Even though the Republican caucus nominated Rep. Phelan for Speaker (78-6) Rep. Tinderholt has pledged to bring the vote to the House Floor so that all might see who voted for whom. This vote for Speaker will be taken on January 10, 2023.  

On January 12, the vote will be taken in the House, regardless of who is Speaker, to change the House Rules to eliminate Democrats from being appointed as Chairs to our most important committees. This rule change will also be a floor roll call vote and public record. Rep. Frank of Wichita Falls says that even though over 80% of his Republican constituents in Wichita County voted in favor of banning Democrat Committee Chairs, it is  only HIS and all Legislators task to decide which Priorities would steer the 88th Legislative Session.  Please join us in Austin on January 12 as Dallas County Republican Party will charter a bus to leave a designated location in North Dallas.  There are 3 other buses going from Denton and Collin and Wise Counties.  We will arrive in Austin by the 9 am gavel to flood the Gallery of the State House and the offices of ALL our Republican Legislators to make our voices heard to change this House Rule. It is time for them to join together and vote as one body as the Democrats have done for decades. We ask you to participate in our Government.  

Added by allen.mabry82

I totally disagree with your objective. Perhaps there is no longer room in the Texas Republican Party for those that want to work together with ALL representatives and senators to achieve better education for our children, safety & security, and improved highway & road infrastructure as top priorities. The committees are still comprised of a majority of Republicans, so is it really that harmful to have some cooperative-minded Democrats as the chair of a few committees?

The pendulum will swing the other way in the future. You are trying to set a precedent you will regret some day. Like so many of the social issues taken up in the state Senate, this is merely a distraction from the serious business at hand.
Added by Susan A Fountain

Mr. Mabry, This has been the argument for the last few sessions, but yet Democrat Chairs continue to block our priorities by not even allowing a committee hearing, therefore effectively killing the bills. Our Legislative Priorities Committee, composed of SREC Members from all across Texas, track every bill from filing to Sine Die, analyzing them to ensure they meet our Priorities and the bills that get hearings and work their way through Calendars to the House Floor are generally those coming out of Republican led Committees. So where is the compromise? Democrats have now learned there are no repercussions for fleeing the House to break quorum, and avoid voting for Republican priority related bills, as we learned in the last 87th Session. Dade Phelan: "I cannot stop you from leaving." (wink, wink).

If your logic prevailed then a minimum of 75% of our Legislative Priorities would have sailed through a Republican majority House over the past 20 year. So why keep repeating the same methods and expecting a different outcome? Methinks our current Speaker may have the same agenda as the Democrats.
Added by luciarushton

In a perfect world, I wish we could have balance in politics, but sadly that is slipping through our hands. If our Republican nominated representatives are truly "For the People" then yes we would want them to chair all committees so we can see some healthy change in Government. I definitely don't have the right answer, but if the Jan 6 committee is anything to go by, with zero republicans allowed on that Federal committee, then yes I would prefer changing the way things have been done in the last few sessions and have more republicans chair committee.
also, are there tickets to get on that bus?
Added by allen.mabry82

I don't think we are really hearing each other. I know I really didn't realize where you were coming from. The Democratic exodus was related to HB3 and SB1, both intended to address voting security/integrity. I would agree that breaking quorum while appealing to the federal government to enact contrary legislation was an extremely poor political calculation - if there was any "calculation" to it at all. Your response seemed to me to be a non sequitur until I actually found the link the Legislative Priorities of the Party from the June 2022 convention. You had moved on to #2 to get rid of all Democratic Committee Chairs.

I was initially curious about which priorities were being thwarted by Democratic chairs of the committees: Pensions, Investments, & Financial Services; Transportation; County Affairs? It wasn't easy for me to research by looking up each Chair; I got down to the C's before I lost energy. I also didn't look to see how many of the committee chairs were part of the exodus to break quorum. But then I took note of the Legislative Priorities.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I did not find anything positive or aspirational in any of the Legislative Priorities. Nothing about helping kids recover from learning loss due to COVID-19 isolation. Nothing about expanding pre-Kindergarten programs. Nothing about increasing funding to DPS to decrease the wait times for a driver license. Nothing about transportation or infrastructure. I really don't see how calling upon the governor to protect the border is a Legislative Priority. The list comes across to me as a variation on "get off of my lawn."

I was happy to be an Alternate Election Judge to make sure that everyone can have confidence in the integrity and security of our elections. At the same time, my views are different on how we should conduct ourselves. I don't think the way these Legislative Priorities are stated will win hearts and minds and expand the tent. My fear is that we come across as the character "Angry Bob" in the "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip. I guess it will depend upon the manner in which the legislators approach the topics.

"When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." ― Oscar Wilde
Added by David Wange

I remember in my younger years the Republican Party was perpetually on the outside of power looking through the front windows of the Capitol in Austin, primarily working as the spoiler between the Blue Dog and Yellow Dog Democrats. Many Republicans were content to be the patrician establishment party willing to compromise with the “conservative” Democrats, while keeping the “Conservative Crazies” and “unwashed religious nuts” (terms I heard from several Texas Republican leaders in the day, whose kids I grew up around). Meanwhile, the Democrats ran the state, and had done so since Reconstruction. This same political party that since 1828 brought slavery, Jim Crow, the KKK, segregation and “red-lining”, busing, abortion, “Robin Hood”, Marxist-Socialism, religious oppression and suppression, the border crisis, transgender modification of minors, historic economic mismanagement and deficit spending, rife political and electoral graft and corruption since the days of Andrew Jackson, socialized medicine (effectively), the Vietnam War, the disaster in Afghanistan, and countless more actions and activities that would crush and disappoint the hearts, minds and spirits of the Founders of our nation and state. Is this a political party and party leadership that we need to somehow conduct a mutual and meaningful working relationship?

How quaintly and dangerously naïve are those innocently or willfully ignorant of history and contemporary events, comfortable in their cloistered and secure lives, existing above the normalcy of everyday people. Every day people are terribly hurt through these policies and agendas.

Mind you, the Republican Party rank-and-file are prone to certain reactionary and extreme beliefs, which often self-segregate individuals, groups and sub-groups from the larger population and electorate. As a party we easily captivate ourselves in our own brains and splinter ourselves into resolute factious minorities that isolate and splinter the party, because we too easily become adamant and inflexible in our own convictions. All too often, in our self-righteous indignation and zealousness we lose sight of the fact that there are millions of others living in our country, state and communities that may not 100% agree to every “jot and tittle” of our beliefs, so we may need to both compromise and prioritize our agendas we hold hard and fast. This undisciplined political and philosophical tactic usually creates little more than contention, division and more empty noise, with little beneficial effect or effectual change. We stand proud in our unwavering principles and convictions, but accomplish less than nothing, because we isolate and estrange ourselves from others in our community and electorate, losing elections. So, we yell at the AM radio, television or website, but are little more than a collection of grumbling “holy huddles”. We are many that are brought together as one nation and state, and not a lot of individuals demanding conformity to the limited constraints of the few, which can be uncomfortable as we seek the “golden mean” between us in so many issues, for which all will have to contend with a certain degree of individual unhappiness. Therefore, out of many one!

Meanwhile, the Democrats are working diligently and collectively as a mob of disparate and boisterous, but disciplined party members, promoting loathsome and vile policies and agendas, staffing the government and schools with idealogues, electing obedient drones to serve the self-interests of the party leadership and funding sources, and developing new and creative ways to scam the electoral process to ensure their winning of elections. The primary reason why is that the Republican Party is typically and busily splintering themselves into groups pontificating their convictions, philosophies, rhetoric and, sometimes, extreme policies and ideals as an undisciplined party, busy fighting amongst other Republicans and separating from the electorate at large, and, eventually, losing elections. As Edmund Burke so wisely stated, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," or, to revise, for good people too preoccupied and deaf to be in the right fight.

Political compromise is essential for good politics but allowing Democrats to hold committee chairs in the Texas State House is willfully naive and outright politically destructive to the Republican Party and the agenda of the party, playing towards defeat of policy and principle of the party. It’s equivalent to tolerating a rattlesnake to live in our house to keep the rodents in check. The rank-and-file Democrats are generally good people, but the Democratic Party leadership is depraved, as their history and agenda testify. Trust them not!

The Republican Party needs to continually set their focus on winning elections and ensuring that they’re able to implement their agenda. If we don’t win, then we can’t do anything. The platform, as a suggestion, shouldn’t be more than several dozen planks with a focused and clearly articulated agenda of what the party intends to do and accomplish, rather than just a motley collection of what we’re against. The English language is wonderfully adroit at succinct and thought provoking and promotional prose. Once in office, the Republican Party can then bring about good change, stem bad agendas and apply a better trajectory for Texas. In this regard, emotion and rhetoric need to be thoughtful and directed to win elections, as well as promote good policy once elected. Metaphorically, the Republican Party spends too much time designing the stadium and uniforms, and less time and effort working on the blocking and tackling to win the ball games, so we have a great time in the luxury box watching our team regularly lose the game.
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