Voting rights action: Texas Democrats storm the Capitol (peacefully!) – News
State Representative Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, addresses the rally as organizer Beto O’Rourke watches (left) (Photo by Mike Clark-Madison)
Earlier this week, the US Senate found itself in an impasse, as expected, and did not hold the signature debate voting rights legislation which promises to dominate national political discourse this summer. While this latest demonstration of the sclerotic Senate’s inability to function has been a disappointment for many, it actually marks real progress over past results when the other side was in the driver’s seat, with filibuster reform. on the table and a united Democratic caucus. You can thank Beto o’rourke and the Texas House Democrats for that.
On Sunday, June 20, the former congressman, failed Senate candidate and broader presidential candidate led a tight group of thousands of people from across the state to the Texas State Capitol, as they muffled, chanted, clapped and waved signs for hours behind what is now clearly Topic A for Democrats in Texas and across the country. “People can connect the dots,” O’Rourke told the the Chronicle in an interview last week. “Whether it’s fixing the power grid or expanding Medicaid so you don’t die of diabetes in 2021, or climate, racial justice, gun violence or education – the only way you can to be able to make a significant difference is to do democracy well. “
“The only way to make a significant difference is to do democracy well. “– Beto O’Rourke
It’s love at first sight not only for DC politicians, but also for the government. Greg Abbott, which on Tuesday announced the highly anticipated (premier) special session of 87th Texas Legislature would meet on July 8. (See “Austin at Large.”) The rally came three weeks after Texas House Democrats broke a quorum and came out to scuttle Senate Bill 7, a bill on “electoral integrity” which, in its final form, narrowly limited postal voting, directly targeted black churches “Souls at the polls” traditions by eliminating early voting on Sunday mornings and drastically lowered the legal threshold the state had to cross to overturn election results. Abbott brought in the little one last week by vetoing the Legislature’s budget (but not for this special session) and blocking the south steps of the Capitol on Sunday, forcing O’Rourke’s Powered by people group, which organized the rally as the finale of an 18-city barn tour across the state, to resort to an old-fashioned soapbox.
To the crowd and dozens of speakers, the Texas House Dems were patriots and heroes, standing up against “Jim Crow 2.0” laws. They received a warm feedback after their starring tour in DC earlier in the week, pushing for the People’s Law (already passed by the United States House as HR1, now before the Senate as S.1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, HR 4. Bills include provisions to make automatic online and same-day voter registration mandatory, increase access to mail-in ballots, and reform redistribution and campaign financing ; the John Lewis Act specifically restores the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were rescinded in 2015.
Recalling the tension that preceded the walkout, “I said, ‘It became evident that [state GOP leaders] in fact only terrorize us. I do not speak or negotiate with terrorists. It’s time to walk. And that’s what we did, “said Rep. Jasmin crockett, D-Dallas. “There is going to be a movement in this country because of the work that we are doing.” At the other end of the historical timeline, a surprise guest speaker was Luci Baines Johnson, who remembers seeing his father sign the Voting Rights Act place. “Today, I cannot be with my father, who is in heaven, I firmly believe it, but I know that he is up there to applaud each of you for being here, and especially to applaud the Texas lawmakers who championed democracy, ”she said.
Abbott has vowed to push through a version of “electoral integrity” to appeal to the GOP primary voters he faces next year. Will the Democrats leave? Abbott calls a special session in time for La Lege to quash his budget veto can be seen as a defensive move against another quorum breach that undermines his plans. But O’Rourke, who publicly entertains the race against Abbott (as the enthusiastic Sunday crowd encouraged him to do), said: “These lawmakers have to do whatever it takes to save democracy. literally existential here in Texas If, for example, SB 7 or some other version of this bill passes and gives the state of Texas the right to annul future elections, we will no longer have democracy. “
Participants included a native of Dallas Lorna ramsey, who marked Father’s Day with her husband James by demonstrating on the Capitol Lawn. Ramsey, who said she has been involved in activism since she joined the student body at her integrated high school to protest their graduation speaker, the pastor of a segregationist church, said she considered it a duty to come and demonstrate. “There are people fighting on the battlefield for our democracy. The least we can do is be here,” Ramsey said. “In my family, [voting] is sacred. It is. So seeing someone try to withdraw the vote – what they’re doing isn’t going to stop people. It’s just going to make us fight harder. “