Photo: Full Senate in session at Texas State Capitol. Photo by David Schroeder, via flickr.
In the July 10 issue of The Beacon, we read an opinion story that perhaps would not have been of any special relevance outside of Texas, if it weren’t for the scandal it involved. A certain law was up for vote in the Texas Senate – we will not get into the details in order to avoid turning it into the red herring – and the democratic system that has kept our country running would have worked as usual, if it weren’t for the (mis)behavior of one representative: the honorable Wendy Davis.
A controversial figure, Senator Davis employed one of the most unique tricks in a politician’s bag, termed “filibustering” (from the Spanish “filibustero,” pirate). This means she spoke for about 11 hours without interruption, trying to get the session to end in order to prevent the Senate from voting – one person attempting to take away the right of the senators to vote on a bill. The cheap shot failed, since three hours before the end of the session she went off topic and received a warning.
Perhaps now the Senate would have exercised its legislative mandate, if it weren’t for what followed: an unruly mob flooded inside the Legislative chambers, shouting and screaming. Their goal was achieved: the Senate was not in order, and the session was closed without the bill having been subject to vote.
On these times in which so many countries are in the midst of severe political turmoil, it would have seemed that all it would take in America to disrupt the expression of democracy would be one talkative filibuster and her unruly crew – a wonderful expression of “might makes right.”
Fortunately, though, it was not so. Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the Legislature back to the Capitol for a special session in order for the people’s elected officials to be able to vote, and the Texas House already exercised her mandate, passing the bill to Senate with a 96-49 majority.
As we find ourselves in a sea of red herrings, surrounded by contradictory information – some from bona fide, concerned voters, some from lobbies and corporations whose interests are at stake – we are thankful to the governor of Texas and its legislators for giving us a lesson of democracy, upholding the people’s authority over the might of a powerful few.
Raul Carmine Camarca
Ph.D. Student in Computer Science