Political warfare erupted this summer, and everyone missed it. I’m not talking about the ridiculous media-raped debacle in California – it’s California, what do you expect? While the media has been focused on the Republican-backed practical joke, political vendetta has been raging in my beautiful home state of Texas. Texas Republicans, in a relentless power grab fashioned by Tom DeLay and Karl Rove, have tragically tossed the bipartisan spirit of Texas politics aside this summer, which President Bush never hesitated to take credit for in the 2000 election.
Here’s the setting – Texas, to the eternal outrage of Republicans, sends more Democratic representatives to Washington. Texas’ 17-15 delegation favoring Democrats is simply unacceptable to house majority leader Tom DeLay. DeLay and his cronies (Texas Republicans) argue that because Texas is a “Republican” state, then it should therefore have more Republican federal reps. Seven more to be exact. DeLay’s answer? Cut-throat politics in the form of redistricting. Sure one could argue that Texas was just redistricted two years ago by federal judges or that the targeted Democratic representatives are actually elected from Republican districts, but that would require logic, and we all know how well-versed Republicans are in that subject.
And so Tom DeLay and Karl Rove decided to spill blood on Texas soil in order to achieve their own national agenda. With no other option, Texas Democrats did the one thing Texans despise doing the most. They ran. On May 19, Texas House Democrats took off for Oklahoma breaking the quorum needed to pass DeLay’s brainchild. Republicans, of course, dug into their arsenal of simplistic arguments and claimed that Texas Democrats were fleeing from a fight. But seriously, has anybody been to Oklahoma? It’s not a pretty site, especially for a Texan. So if it was a run, it was a fairly self-sacrificing flight.
Democrats returned to Texas once the deadline for a preliminary vote on house bills had passed, but Governor Perry had not yet escaped the clenches of DeLay. The now puppet governor decided to once again place DeLay’s agenda above his Texas constituents and call a special session to consider redistricting. While the bill passed the House, Texas Republicans could not get past a two-thirds majority rule for consideration in the Texas Senate.
Yet the dignity and poise represented in the Senate’s two-thirds majority rule are not a specialty for Texas Republicans, so Governor Perry called a second tax funded special session to consider redistricting while Lt. Governor Dewhurst vowed to ignore the majority rule. And Democrats left again. This time to show that they were serious, the 11 Democratic Senators went to the only place they could imagine worse than Oklahoma: Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Although Texas Republicans levied illegal fines and penalties on Texas Democrats, they held firm in New Mexico. Thanks to the Senators’ resolve, the second session ended in failure for Republicans, DeLay, and Rove. Yet, Governor Perry has made it quite clear that he will once again call a special session to consider this imperative redistricting. While I do not know how the controversy will end, I do know is this – this political blood feud waged by DeLay, Rove and Texas Republicans should not have largely escaped national attention, especially that of Democrats. The upcoming years are too imperative for our nation to risk yet another Republican controlled House and erosion of Democratic power in this country. If Democrats have any hope of taking back the House in ’04, we simply cannot afford to lose six strong seats from Texas.
And so I say to Democrats nationwide – wake up! While you are busy watching Ahhhnold, Tom DeLay and Karl Rove have been manipulating Texas politics to their own national advantage in an attempt to silence all those who oppose them. Although Texas Democrats are strong in their resolve and will not back down, help is desperately needed. It is time for Democrats to rally around Texas’ heroes and resist Republican attacks on my home state.
-The writer is a sophomore majoring in international affairs.