Texas Democrats try a different process
Political process is designed, hopefully, to bring consensus and good governance. Instead, Texas politicians got creative with a process step of their own by walking out. It’s an alternative that has also been used by Oregon Republicans when things didn’t go their way. Is this good governance?
Farah Eltohamy, writing for The Texas Tribune, discussed the process adopted in her article: What it means to break quorum and what you need to know about the Texas House Democrats’ dramatic departure. She writes:
On July 12, Texas House Democrats packed their bags and headed for the nation’s capital in a high-profile effort to block passage of GOP-backed voting restrictions.
Democrats hoped their exodus would break what’s called a quorum — the minimum number of lawmakers needed to conduct business — so Republicans couldn’t pass legislation that could ban drive-thru and 24-hour voting, among other sweeping restrictions.
The move quickly garnered condemnation from Republican officials, who vowed to do what they could to compel Democrats back to Austin. Democrats, meanwhile, hoped to leverage the national attention and advocate for a pair of federal voting bills.
The steps Texas Democrats took are in response to Texas House rules. Eltohamy explains:
With at least 51 out of 67 House Democrats absent, there will not be enough members present to conduct business as usual under House rules.
The House rules state that without a quorum, “no business shall be transacted, except to compel the attendance of absent members or to adjourn.”
Congressional process fails good governance
Congressional process rules, in any state, were not intentionally formed with a convenient back door for politicians to leave their posts. The rules are for healthy political contention to elicit consensus for good governance.
The operative word is “healthy” as we expect our political leaders to show respect, considered judgement, and putting constituents first – before their allegiance to political party or their own job.
While the nation watches the political antics play out, there is much cheering for Democrats to save the day – and voting rights. There is also much rebuke from Republicans who are frustrated because their own political shenanigans were not a slam dunk while they strived to stifle their own voters.
The nation gets distracted. So do politicians. Yes, it’s imperative that voting rights for all voters be defended and voting access be expanded, not limited. These are worthwhile results for which to strive. But we should also pay attention to what has failed us. Process has failed us. Congressional cultures in many states remain dysfunctional – our leaders remain unable to do their job.
Governing is not a game wherein one political party should seek to bend and/or break rules to disadvantage another political party. Political parties too often pay their allegiance to their motto: Winning is everything! It blinds our politicians, distracts their constituents, and fails our democracy.
Presidential election process can be improved
Another failed process is exercised whenever we strive to elect a president. Using the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach allows politicians to game the system and skirt past true Electoral College results.
Every presidential election blinds the politicians to how many of their own constituents become disenfranchised (tens of millions!). Every presidential election distracts the nation’s citizenry as they blindly allow their own ballots be slipped past the Electoral College machinery and left on the ballot counting floor.
Equal Voice Voting (EVV) can change the process without a U.S. Constitutional amendment so that WTA is removed and a state’s popular vote results mirror its electoral vote allocation. EVV means All Votes Matter!
We don’t need political antics to bring fairness to our presidential elections. Good governance can be attained if we but pay attention to good process.
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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team