As you may have seen this week, Texas Democrats fled the Lone Star State, effectively -- and ironically – to filibuster against the GOP's proposed voting law. Ironically, because Democrats in Washington are talking about ending the filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
The optics – and optics mean a lot in politics – are patently horrible because, if watching at home or scrolling on a smartphone screen, here's how the average American is likely absorbing the images and sounds thus far:
First, Texas Democrats abandoned their jobs. Fled the state. They're the minority party and elections (we've been told often) have consequences. But no matter: Private planes departed Texas for Washington, D.C.
On said planes, the super-serious lawmakers on a mission to save democracy decided to start taking and posting scores of positively giddy selfies on social media that portrayed themselves as spelling-challenged, maskless fugitives.
My fist meal as a fugitive.— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) July 13, 2021
ON PLANE TO DC: Texas Democratic lawmakers are leaving state to break quorum to stop Republican voting bill. Veteran Capitol observers say this is unchartered territory. Photo from Democrat on the plane. https://t.co/YOuOMb0A2m pic.twitter.com/abWoARvFIC— ScottGordonNBC5 (@ScottGordonNBC5) July 12, 2021
So, after all of these lawmakers thumbed their noses at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements by not wearing masks on the flight (again, optics), the Spring Break-in-Summer party continued on via chartered buses, which included more happy selfies and an ample supply of Miller Lite (second row, right).
When it comes to protecting our right to vote, all cards are on the table. We broke #quorum again today because the Gov & #txlege Repubs chose to bully Texans out of our constitutional rights instead of finding solutions to problems that really exist. #SuppressionSession #DemsOut https://t.co/muMdHLSy9F pic.twitter.com/9UbJnB8ehW— Julie Johnson (@juliejohnsonTX) July 12, 2021
After singing "We Shall Overcome" on the steps of the Capitol, State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) insisted the selfie brigade was not smiling after all. "We are not here smiling, we are not here spiking the ball,” Anchia said.
“We don’t want to be here. I would much rather be in Texas,” State Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville) added.
These lawmakers turned even more super-serious while making the media rounds.
"They (Texas Republican officials) normally put poll watchers in minority areas, and they are normally people of different nationalities than the areas where they place them. And they are there to intimidate the workers. Not the workers, but the voters," Texas state House Democratic Dean Senfronia Thompson claimed without evidence on MSNBC.
"Can the poll watchers be armed?" host Joy Reid later asked.
"Well, that's a good question," Thompson replied in answering what was actually a horrible question. "I would predict that they probably could."
Texas state House Democratic Dean Senfronia Thompson claims that Texas Republicans will arm poll watchers with guns to intimidate and prevent Black people from voting in the Lone Star State (in order to ensure Republicans win every election) pic.twitter.com/AIdhGoLd6T— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) July 8, 2021
So this, apparently, was a trip with no plan to achieve an objective, unless lying about the so-called consequences is the goal.
Eventually, these lawmakers need to return to Texas, where Republicans control both chambers of the legislature. For their "effort," Democrats gained no further concessions around 24-hour or drive-thru voting, just the ire of Republican state lawmakers and the mockery of many Texas residents.
As for voter ID requirements, State Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) discussed it with Fox News's Pete Hegseth on Tuesday night. "I oppose voter ID – it's the law in Texas," he said in echoing what he has long opposed on his Twitter page.
Talarico is not alone in the party. But the numbers are the numbers when it comes to what the American people think of voter identification requirements. According to the most recent poll on the matter by Monmouth University, four in five Americans support showing a photo ID when voting. Other polls say the same, with a solid majority of African Americans (69 percent) supporting voter ID in one poll.
All of that said, it is still utterly amazing that many of these same Democrats are talking about democracy being under attack, while openly yearning to blow up the filibuster while literally filibustering.
Does your hair hurt too?
Texas Democrats say they're on a mission to save democracy. That mission includes self-serving photos, cheap beer, flaunting mask requirements and making outrageous suggestions of armed polling officials intimidating minority voters from casting their votes.
This will fail. In fact, it already has.
And stunts like these won't distract voters from the real challenges facing Democrats in terms of positive things to run on.
Skyrocketing violent crime? Democrats own that.
Rising inflation? See directly above.
A border that is anything but secure? Ditto.
Couple all of that with national teacher unions embracing critical race theory in schools, which polls horribly with Americans, and it's hard to see how a red wave doesn't flip the House and 50-50 Senate back to the GOP next year.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.