The 85th Texas Legislature plain sucked. That’s really the only way I can describe it. From someone who lived through it day in and day out, it’s one of those occurrences you wished you’d stayed home from. It’s one thing to be aware of things in the abstract but it is another to know of them first hand. And what do I know firsthand? That I am a meaningless pawn in a petty, vindictive game? My life has no significance; my work futile?
Pretty dark huh? I told you the session sucked. Now let’s touch on a few specifics.
It’s little secret to anyone that follows Texas politics that the state legislature is divided. The senate and the house despise each other, or rather the respective power structures do. What is not widely known is that the structure of a legislative session itself is partly to blame for this dysfunction. (I’ll address this in another segment—losing focus…)
The state is run by three men essentially: Governor Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Strauss. Among this paradigm the Lt. Governor is, “The only some-bitch that knows what he’s trying to do,” to quote from the classic film Patton. Nature favors the aggressor and thus Patrick is in control. The Governor by his recent actions (pushing further to the right while chastising the legislative body for inaction) has confirmed this. The House Speaker is either an obstructionist or a pragmatist depending on your perspective.
The Texas Senate has become Draconian in its attempt to render the state the superior governmental body in the state, as opposed to counties and cities. The predominantly red ‘Land of the Green Carpet’ spit out a multitude of bills intended to reign in local governments. This seems a bit ironic given the fact that the horse-beaten mantra of the Republican Party is ‘local control’. Nevertheless, the proverbial horse bypassed the plowshare and was being beaten directly into a sword.
Then there was the bathroom bill. Regardless of your opinion of it, what unfolded that day Senate State Affairs heard it was nothing less than bizarre. Some were repulsed and some sympathetic. The House would not reciprocate and our compromise would be soundly wiped like a child regiment.
It went like this with basically everything. In fact vital state agencies still hang in the balance due to petty unrelated squabbling. Teacher retirement continues to rot, the stench ignored; the actual business of state an annoyance.
Days ran into nights which collided with mornings. The hours were brutal.
Myself, I was looking forward to its end, but found that when the gavel fell and I returned to my farm back in district…that I was displaced somehow. It didn’t help that I now had herniated a disc in my low back apparently from sitting for countless hours reviewing bills; hiking some twenty five miles (according to my pedometer) up colossal flights of stairs—morning in, next morning out.
Not to disrespect the suffering of our returning soldiers from afar, but I can only describe my mental state as a sort of PTSD—or at least that’s how my wife described it.
At the outset of session Texas Tribune deemed the 85th as nothing more than a side show to the bigger circus eastward just off the Potomac. What else could it be? But during World War I the war against Turkey was considered a sideshow as well. And so, with another battle looming in Special Session starting July 18, so I view the first act of the 85th. It was in effect the taking of Aqaba—but for whose side?
I just hope its sequel is not Gallipoli.