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What's in the banner?
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Gather 'round, all you pipsqueak nations, and learn how to do real democracy. We've been practicing it in this country for more than two hundred years; one day maybe we'll get it right.
I am pure proud that Texas is stepping to the forefront to show infant democracies exactly how it's done. Seems that more than 50 Democratic Texas state representatives skipped town yesterday, in order to prevent a quorum being formed (they are about ten people short). The idea was to thwart a new (federal) congressional re-districting plan, put forward by (daaa-dum daaa-dum) Tom DeLay.
The real scandal is that not only did the legislators flee the capital, they fled the state, holing up in the Holiday Inn in (oh, the shame!) Ardmore, Oklahoma. Now, the Houston Chronicle says,:
In other words, the cops can physically drag them back to the Capitol, but they're not charged with anything and don't risk jail or fines. Texas cops can't touch them in Oklahoma, though, so they're "safe" for the time being. (Europe: take note. Texas officers cannot just waltz into Oklahoma and grab its legislators, and the odds of them being extradited for something that isn't a crime, and even if it were, wouldn't be a crime in Oklahoma, are, well, zero.)
I'm shocked, shocked that anyone would draw congressional district lines based on political reasons.
I don't know anything about the redistricting plan. I'm suspicious of anything that DeLay does, because I think he's the kind of reactionary froot loop who gives conservatism a bad name. Take, for example, this shining statement from him, on the significance of his redistricting plan:
Forever and ever, amen.
But I don't know if it's any more egregiously political than any that has gone before, nor do I know whether the Republicans have pulled any shady tricks to push the plan through.
This act was not unprecedented. The first (near as I can tell) time was in 1979, when only twelve senators walked out. Then, it was hot Democrat-on-Democrat action, and it was over a change in the date of the presidential primary.
One might argue that bypassing the Senate's own rules was a dirty tactic, and deserved some sort of drastic action. I just don't know enough about the situation at that time, or how often the Senate's rules got bypassed in the course of things. At any rate, there was nothing in the paper about shady dealings in the present case. The Chronicle has been such a reliably (I hate to use the word in this way, but there it is) liberal paper that surely they'd report any underhanded shenanigans if there were any.
I mostly post this to highlight the fun you can have in a democracy. For example, the senators who walked out in '79 are called, for no adequately explained reason, the "Killer Bees", and their act is now the stuff of legend:
Those rascals in the Lege are such (nyuk) cards:
Omigod! Dissent is being crushed! The Chronicle ran a picture of the cards---obviously hurriedly printed out on the cheap---but I haven't been able to find a copy online.
Ah, but here's another shining example of good clean democratic (note the small d) debate:
As Molly Ivins says, if you took all the fools out of the Lege, it wouldn't be a representative body anymore.
More coverage here.