How do you fight against the suppression of democracy? By suppressing it. That appears to be the “logic” behind why 51 of the 67 Democratic members of the Texas House hightailed it out of the state on Monday, hopping aboard two chartered planes that spirited them to the nation’s capital. Their plan now is to stay away at least until Aug. 6, when a special legislative session ends.
By skedaddling when they did, the lawmakers avoid having to vote on a GOP-backed bill that would impose restrictions on voting by mail, add voting ID requirements, and implement a passel of new policies that Democrats consider “undemocratic.” And how, again, do you fight for democracy? By suspending it.
Running out on an active session of the state legislature makes the lawmakers fugitives from justice and liable to arrest if they return to Texas soil before the special session ends.
The hypocrisy is already thick enough to cut with a knife, but several of the lawmakers added to it with their comments to constituents back home. Wrote James Talarico, who proudly self-identifies as the state’s youngest legislator:
We left behind our families, our livelihoods, & our beloved Texas. But our sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifices brave Americans have made throughout history to protect the sacred right to vote.
He’s right about his sacrifice being nothing, but he need not search for comparisons. It’s just plain nothing.
Pictures of the representatives in transit, grinning goofily, can be found all over social media. Most, like the one at the top of the page, snapped aboard one of the two private just, show them maskless. Effectively, the image shows them breaking a second law. As Business Insider noted on July 1:
All flyers, including children and those vaccinated, are required by federal law to wear a face mask when in a US airport or onboard an airplane. … All other passengers must wear a mask or apply for an exemption from the airline ahead of a flight.
Considering the haste with which this plan was executed, the likelihood that any of the lawmakers applied for an exemption seems slim.
When they arrived in D.C., they headed to the Capitol, where they added to the absurdity of the enterprise by serenading members of the media with an off-key rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” One or two of them even knew words.