Texas Republicans Pass Measure That Helps Them Rig Legislation, Disenfranchise Voters Even More

greg-abbott-texas-1While the word “compromise” is not exactly popular with voters from either the left or the right, the ultimate goal in politics should be to have a governing body that works together on bipartisan legislation so that the most amount of Americans possible are represented by whatever legislation ultimately gets passed. Unfortunately, that’s not how government works anymore. In fact, partisanship is only getting worse.

Take for instance what’s going on in Texas where Republicans pushed through legislation that essentially rigs the legislation process, kills bipartisanship and opens a clear path for the GOP to do whatever they want.

A rule dating back to 1947 requiring a two-thirds majority to debate a bill has been changed to now only require three-fifths. Under the old rule it took 21 of the 31 state senators to bring a bill to debate, now it will only require 19.

Not a huge change, right? So, why is that significant? Well, because Republicans just happen to control 20 seats. Meaning that as long as 19 of the 20 senators simply vote along party lines, there’s nothing Democrats in the state can do to block any sort of legislation they want passed. Before this decades old rule was changed, it encouraged bipartisanship in the Senate because at least one Democrat would have had to side with every Republican to move forward with any piece of legislation. Now Republicans can cut Democrats out entirely, essentially negating any sort of power they have within the state.

Or do you think it’s just a coincidence that this new rule is perfectly calculated to strip Democrats of any sort of power in the Texas state Senate?

Now, even though just over one-third of the state senators are Democrats, none of those Texans who voted for them will be represented in the Senate thanks to this new rule. In other words, this is just another way to completely disenfranchise millions of voters in Texas.

“This is a sad day for the Senate and one that we will look back on and regret,” said state Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston). “What you are doing today is making this legislative body operate the same way they operate in Washington, D.C. It is the wrong thing to do.”

And Ellis is right. While Democrats are clearly the minority here in Texas, they still had some power in the state Senate under the old rule. A rule, by the way, that survived throughout years of Democratic rule in Texas.

For example, if this new rule had been in place a couple of years ago Wendy Davis, would have never had the chance to stage her courageous filibuster fighting for women’s rights.

You might be asking yourself if you don’t live in Texas, why should I care? Well, because these are the sorts of things Republicans will eventually try do to nationally if they’re ever given enough power to do so. We all know Republicans don’t like the rules, because the rules rarely support their side. And knowing that the United States continues to get more and more liberal, they see a future that’s very bleak for their party. So what they’re trying to do now is set a solid foundation to rig elections, disenfranchise voters and make it nearly impossible to remove them from power.

We’ve already seen this when it comes to gerrymandering of House districts where it’s almost all but impossible for Democrats to take a majority control of the House of Representatives until at least 2020. Then there are all the Republican-controlled states that have been doing their best to pass new restrictive voter ID laws that mostly target voting demographics that tend to vote for Democrats.

If more Americans don’t start getting angry and making this kind of behavior front page news almost every single day, Republicans are going to win. Because day by day and inch by inch, they’re chipping away at a system that doesn’t support their warped ideologies and setting up a system that will.

While many reading this might shrug this off and say “Who cares, it’s not my state,” that’s exactly what Republicans are counting on. Then one day we’re all going to wake up to a federal government completely rigged by a conservative majority that was put in place with disenfranchising voting laws and gerrymandering, along with state governments that aren’t representing half of their citizens.

And we damn sure can’t let that happen.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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