Speaker Cage Match of Death
Here we are, yet again. Another Texas legislative session bearing down on us and another debate about Speaker of the House. Strangely, this one feels different to me. Not necessarily because anything is different at the capitol or even among the Permanent Political Class. Not even because of “the people” as a whole but because of the path that each individual travels that gets them back to these intersections.
I can honestly say that this election for Speaker hasn’t been as foremost in my mind mostly because I have embarked on a personal journey that hopefully leads to a new kidney. Yet as I have plenty of time to start getting back to news while doing dialysis, I have come across videos, commentary, etc. in the lead up to the 2015 version of “Speaker Cage Match of Death”! At times it seems this would a more entertaining way to select a Speaker but until we have that option available we’ll stick to the discussion of how it is currently done. With so much commentary flying about I decided it was time for a recent history lesson.
I was a member of the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) for Senate District 31 from 2006-2012. During that time I used much of my energy to try to make the Texas GOP as transparent and on Offense as much as possible. There were times that I and my friend Russ Duerstine were virtually standing alone on many important issues. But when you believe in something you press ahead regardless of the current popularity of the subject.
I introduced a resolution to the Texas GOP in the months before Joe Straus was elected to a second term as Speaker. That resolution simply asked for the Republicans in the House to caucus together to select “their NOMINEE” for our Party. The point of the resolution, was for once in Joe Straus’ career as Speaker he would have to EARN the votes and trust of his fellow GOP members rather than 11 rogue “Republican” members and ALL of the Democrats (the equivalent of letting the Packers select the Cowboys quarterback before a big game). I along with many grassroots Republicans and groups began to make our voices heard on this issue. Even for the first time in history (that I know of)as hundreds of citizens lined the halls of the Texas Capitol to encourage their ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE to vote the will of their constituency. During the vote on my resolution, Eric Opiela was both a PAID operative of Joe Straus AND a member of the SREC, and he fought vigorously to defeat the resolution which eventually passed by ONE vote! My point being that ALL of the political firepower was arrayed in a way to prevent “the people” from having the GOP majority select its Speaker without the influence of the opposition Party. I can assure you that the 130 years the Democrats ruled Texas they did not allow the opposition Party to select their leaders.
However, much to my amazement Joe Straus took what he opposed and turned the GOP Caucus meeting into a behind closed door meeting and made it clear that dissenters would be severely punished. We had inadvertently given the Permanent Political Class the very weapon the needed to squash all dissent and not have any “fingerprints” on the dirty deeds. Today Joe Straus and his surrogates are clamoring for a GOP Caucus again because they want you believe they are all about “the Party”. Joe Straus and John Kerry; they were both against it before they were for it.
Sadly, these tactics only work because too many members are worried about their own political positioning, status and careers. Many, after so many battles have the lost the desire to continue to engage in battle and now seem content to partake only of the benefits of elected office. No amount of cajoling or threatening these members will change anything because they have already locked themselves inside fortified walls of “their legacy”. Uttering threats are many peoples substitute for actually removing members who are no longer responsive to regular people. When members have taken their eyes from far off on the horizon and lowered them down to the steps in front of them they have become the perfect Joe Straus (or any other Speaker that demands unfettered loyalty) Zombie Apocalypse Legislator.
To bring the hypocrisy full circle Team Straus dares to question the “readiness” or “experience” of Scott Turner. Substitute Joe Straus’ name in all of the descriptions of Scott Turner & you will find the truth of what was said about Joe Straus after a term and a half in the House before HE was elected Speaker the first time. So which is it does a short time in the House make you ineligible or too inexperienced to be Speaker or is it based on your life’s experiences and your will & proven history to lead?
Legislators are making a lot of excuses but Scott Turner is as clearly qualified as Joe Straus WAS to lead the Texas House of Representatives.