The Texas Speaker's Race: How Will the Rift Be Healed?

How Will The Rift Be Healed?

Since the November 2nd election, which resulted in a supermajority for the GOP, the fur continues to fly in the fight for the Speaker’s seat.  Within just a few days, the issue will be decided and the business of dealing with the needs of Texans will ensue.  However, the venom that has been spewed and the anger that has been ginned up by a small but vocal group of disgruntled Republicans will forever change the face of the Tea Party and the grassroots movement in Texas.   Just as there are those who have never recovered from the loss by Debra Medina to Rick Perry in the primary, there will be those who will be bitter and resentful if their guy doesn’t win.  And for what?  Why has this gotten so out of control?

I am a pro-life Christian, a fiscal Conservative and, along with many others, have sweated blood over the past few years as I have become active in the political process.  I have stood up and spoken my mind on with regularity, but I have chosen not to take a position on this issue.  It isn’t that I am disinterested in who serves as House Speaker, but I am unwilling to participate in a campaign, which is so unseemly.  As I have observed the escalation of the “Oust Straus” movement, I see a personal attack on one man in a fashion that Saul Alinsky would hold up as a prime example of his method.  The manipulated information used to assassinate this man’s character would make anyone in the mainstream media proud.  It makes one wonder what the true agenda of the opposition really is.

It is likely that many of the Tea Party people and genuine grassroots just want to have someone for Speaker whom they believe is truly conservative in his values and principles.  However, it seems that the instigators of the movement (backed by big money I might add), have chosen to play on the emotions and inexperience of the people to regain their own lost power.  I remain unconvinced that it is based solely on principles or values, as the viciousness reflects none.

In doing my own research on this topic, I have sought out information on all sides and done my best to learn a bit about how the Texas House works.  I found out (which I believe to be very relevant)  that the House in Texas is not at all like the U.S. House.  The Speaker in Texas does not wield the power that the U.S. Speaker does, and the agenda is much more driven by the Calendars Committee and the body of legislators.  This year, with 101-49, it should be a no-brainer as far as getting the conservative agenda moved forward regardless of who has the gavel.  Additionally, I discovered that many of the agenda items that did not make it through the ’09 session were held up due to the “chubbing” efforts of the Dems on Voter I.D.  As the legislative session is short, it doesn’t take much to stop a bill from moving forward if the numbers play out the right way.  So, it is my opinion that much of what Mr. Straus is being accused of is being blown out of proportion or simply misrepresented.  Finally, after speaking personally with my own State Rep., I have made the decision to trust him to do what he believes is right, as he is much better qualified to understand the dynamics of the House than I.   I would recommend that others who are concerned about this issue take a similar course.  In the end, each will resolve how they would like to see the Speaker’s contest decided, but it will be the Reps who actually make the decision based on their best judgment.  We elected them to do a job and we should let them.  They know the consequences if they fail to respect the will of the constituents.

As the Texas House goes into session, it is likely, based on the information I have been able to garner, that Speaker Straus will remain in place.  That said, the threats from the grassroots (both real and manufactured), lobby groups and other Straus opponents will serve only to generate more mistrust between legislator and constituent and create friction among the members of the House.  All this in a year which we must overcome a huge budget shortfall, take on a massive redistricting process, deal with border issues and fend off the Federal government.  This fight has been unnecessary given the numbers in the House.  Sadly, the damage in the aftermath will be difficult at best to repair.  So the rift will grow and it will be much more challenging to have unified citizen participation in the legislative process or anything else.  Too bad.