The Peter Morrison Report, By Peter Morrison
A new session of the Texas Legislature is about to convene, and the first order of business will be electing a Speaker of the House. This ballot will be the single most important vote House members will cast during the entire session, as the Speaker has tremendous power to set the agenda, appoint committee chairmen, kill bills, etc.
During last session, which was divided almost equally between Republicans and Democrats, RINO Joe Straus was Speaker. Straus used the power of his office to thwart conservative goals and paid off the liberal Democrats who voted for him by not rocking the boat. He even helped some of them campaign for re-election against conservative Republicans this past November.
This is totally unacceptable, and there's no reason Straus should be elected Speaker in this session, because Republicans now enjoy a super-majority in the House. Voters went to the polls all over Texas in November, and we made our voices clear: we want a truly conservative legislature which will work hard to enact a real conservative agenda. We've had enough of "me too Republicans" in the House whose main career goals seem to be making friends with Democrats.
Naturally, Joe Straus and his cronies are insisting that they heard us loud and clear, and this session will be different, and Straus will fight for a conservative agenda. Conservatives aren't buying this line, thankfully. If a man won't stand for conservative principles when the going is tough, there's no reason to believe he'll do so when the wind is at his back.
We've seen enough of Joe Straus over the years to know exactly where he stands on the issues. He made that crystal clear during the last session, and he's not the conservative leader Texas conservatives need. All across the state local conservative groups are demanding that Straus be replaced as Speaker.
Party leaders are aware of this, and have scheduled a caucus meeting before the actual start of the session to settle on one GOP candidate for Speaker. The plan is to meet in private and pick a candidate everyone agrees on, rather than fight internal party battles in a public forum.
This is nothing out of the ordinary; political parties do this sort of thing all the time. In fact, this is exactly why we have primaries, so the parties can agree on one candidate for the general election, instead of a half dozen people from each party vying for office.
Amazingly, though, one Democrat is denouncing the planned caucus as "racist"—because Democrats aren't invited! Rep. Joseph Deshotel (D-Port Arthur) has written an open letter making the ludicrous claim that this meeting violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because most of the Democratic representatives in the Texas House are minorities, while most of the Republican legislators are white. Here's a brief excerpt from his letter:
"The forty-nine (49) Democratic legislators not being allowed to participate in what is tantamount to the election of the Speaker consist of forty-two minorities; fifteen (15) African Americans, twenty-five (25) Hispanics and one (1) Asian. Should the Republican Caucus Bylaws be followed an additional two African-Americans and four Hispanic Republican Elect members and one Hispanic former Democrat would be denied a vote as well. These forty-nine minority House Members and the eight millions Texans they represent are being disenfranchised from the Speaker's election."[GOP meeting could raise Voting Rights issues, Dem lawmaker warns, January 03, 2011]
These days we're seeing more and more outrageous claims of "racism", but this one really takes the cake.
First of all, the Voting Rights Act is a nearly 50 year old law that unconstitutionally discriminates against southern states. It's a racist law that presumes black people can only be represented by black people, and that white voters in southern states are wicked racists who are always out to deny black people their right to vote.
Second, the Voting Rights Act doesn't even apply to this caucus, which isn't an election at all. It's a private meeting for Republican legislators to discuss internal party affairs. There is still going to be a vote in the House for Speaker; the idea that this meeting will somehow invalidate the votes of minority legislators when they cast their votes for Speaker is completely ridiculous.
No one takes this argument seriously; Rep. Deshotel has embarrassed himself and his cause by writing this letter. Crying "racism" when you don't get your way is rapidly losing its force in America.
However, this letter does further demonstrate why Joe Straus is unfit to hold the office of the Speaker of the House. That's because Rep. Deshotel has pledged his vote to Straus.
How can conservatives support a candidate who's acceptable to a liberal left wing Democrat like Joseph Deshotel, who stoops to accusing Republicans of being racists for not allowing Democrats to have a say in their internal party affairs?
We already knew that Joe Straus was too liberal, but this disgraceful episode reveals just what kind of company he keeps.
Joe Straus has got to go. We deserve a true conservative as Speaker of the House, not one who counts men like Joseph Deshotel among his supporters.
Peter Morrison (email him) is a businessman living in Lumberton, Texas with his wife and four children. He currently serves on the Lumberton ISD School Board and as treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party. He says "I believe deeply in the principles of limited constitutional government, the sanctity of life and that our state and nation should be run under Thomas Jefferson's principle of 'Equal Rights for All, Special Privileges for None.'" This article is from his free newsletter, which features commentary about current events of interest to Texans—sign up here.