Last night, more than 50 Texas Democrats jumped on a plane and headed for Washington to highlight the injustice of the draconian voter suppression law blitz by Republican governors and their legislatures. In practice, Texas Democrats are doing what President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE and congressional Democrats are not willing to do for our right to vote — everything.
By flying to our nation's capital, the Texas Democrats are defying the special session being called by Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottTexas governor signs more abortion restrictions into law The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in The Memo: Could O'Rourke beat Abbott to become governor of Texas? MORE and Texas Republicans to ensure the failure of quorum. Under the Texas State Constitution, each member of the Democratic Caucus faces arrest for doing just that, getting into what the late-congressman from Georgia John LewisJohn LewisHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Budowsky: High stakes drama for Biden, Manchin, Sinema Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats' voting rights compromise MORE would call “good trouble.”
The special session in Texas ends on August 7, and Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner says that they are determined to kill the bill by staying out of Texas until then to do so. The coalition of members expressed how the passage of solid federal legislation is vital, especially since they are not the only state at risk of losing access to and the right to vote.
We often hear from Democrats that the right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy, and without access to free and fair elections, our national identity is lost. Yet, while the GOP carries out its assault on those rights using Jim Crow-era tactics, it seems congressional Democrats and Biden don’t hear the fire alarm. It is clear that bipartisanship is most important to this administration and congressional Democrats. Widespread support across party lines outweighs priority legislation for the people who put them in power.
Before the July 4 recess, White House Chief of Staff Ron KlainRon KlainAides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims White House debates vaccines for air travel House is no easy road for Biden, Democrats on .5T package MORE sat down with Kara Swisher for a one-on-one interview on her podcast, SWAY, to discuss the issues that keep him up at night. For most of the interview, Swisher called Klain out on selling her talking points, pressing him to understand why the White House is so dedicated to negotiating with a party that has said they want them to fail. He wasn’t able to answer that question.
The Democrats’ playbook isn’t new. When Democrats are in power, they prove the stereotype that they’re weak by bowing to Republican demands for bipartisanship (a thinly-veiled tactic to run out the clock) and allowing them to bash progressive on the evening news instead of governing. Republicans, on the other hand, do everything possible to pass the priorities their voters sent them to Washington for, regardless of proposed compromises by Democrats.
This strategy is not only harmful to democracy, but it puts the power Democrats have at risk. It fails to show the electorate that lawmakers will do whatever it takes to protect them and the principles they live by. An issue like voting rights should hold more weight than passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill that most Republicans don’t want you to pass, especially when the attack on voting rights is rooted in the denial of the very power voters granted lawmakers.
Democrats often claim to be the party of the people, but as a Black Democrat, I ask, nearly 60 years after John Lewis did as a 23-year-old man, “Where is our party?” When we are truly at risk of losing our voice, where are they? If Texas Democrats have to abandon their State Capitol to fly to the nation's capital, it means that members of Congress have failed to do their jobs and that the administration is deaf to the cries of the American people.
The messaging from this moderate Democratic-led White House has been painfully clear and familiar. If you are Black, an advocate for reproductive rights, part of the LGBTQIA community, or in need of immigration reform, you are on your own, and congressional bipartisanship is more important than your right to vote and the protections through policy that vote can deliver.
The question is straightforward: Is bipartisanship more important to Democrats or standing up for the voting rights of generations of Americans who have been beaten, lynched and terrorized? Will they answer the call?
Michael Deegan-McCree is a progressive strategist, criminal justice advocate and he sits on the Los Angeles New Leaders Council Governing Board. Follow him on Twitter: @mdmccreeCA.