We are living in the strangest of times.
Earlier this week, Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives fled the state to shake off Republican attempts to change voting laws. The departure has put Texas into the national spotlight in the pained debate about voting rights.
You can argue that the Democrats should have stayed put and voted — a vote that was sure to fail. See, reasonable people would agree that protecting our elections is critical but that we also need to include participation is key to a healthy representative democracy.
But here's where the strange part comes in — we've lost all capacity to be reasonable. Democrats refuse to work with Republicans and vice versa. It's a mess.
Republicans in the Texas House threatened Democrats with arrest. Yes, arrest. How that is going to happen is unclear — if even feasible.
The Democrats can deny a quorum in the statehouse, but it probably won't stave off the election security bill's inevitable passage. Once again, we want election security, but we're often amazed by the weak argument Republicans make to institute policies.
The results of the 2020 election are driving this effort. There are two trains of thought here: President Donald Trump's loss nationally; or the state's changing demographics.
Considering the Republican victories in Texas, we suspect it's the former that is driving the conversation. From where we sit, the notion of fraud doesn't hold up — particularly in 2020. The numbers tell the story. Trump won Texas, yet he underperformed compared to other winning Republicans — most notably Sen. John Cornyn. Even here in Hunt County, Cornyn outperformed Trump by a narrow percentage point.
So, if Trump underperformed while Cornyn performed as expected, does this mean fraud happened in Texas? Certainly not. But here we are.
The bill's key provisions would prevent counties — most notably Harris — enacted policies to make things easier for voters as the coronavirus pandemic swirled around the state. The legislature aimed at mail-in ballots, drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting and voting not in a building.
Based on Cornyn's performance in Harris County, there is an argument that these innovations were helpful to Republicans.
Even by removing some of the more extreme measures (like the ability to overrule local election results by the state), the Democrats aren't going to bite. Democrats argue this is voter suppression. Neither side will blink.
Both sides will bring up the Founders in this argument, but both will forget a fundamental tenet of American democracy — compromise. We are past that now. Both sides view each other as the enemy. In the place of a center, we have extremist action and a no-holds-barred approach to politics.
And this latest example led by Democrats is just one more example of how far apart we are.