Republicans won, and hold, a majority in the U.S. House. It is their responsibility to meet the challenge of leadership and organize the House of Representatives. Due to racially discriminatory and partisan gerrymandering, Texas has more Republicans serving in the U.S. House than any other state. Nearly all of them are elected in safely Republican seats. Sadly, not one Texas Republican has stepped forward to try and bring order to chaos. In fact, some of them are full participants in the agitation and destruction.
I spent just over 20 years working for former Texas Democratic member of Congress Martin Frost. During that time, I was fortunate to serve four years as Executive Director of the DCCC and four years as Executive Director of the House Democratic Caucus while Congressman Frost chaired those groups. Throughout his entire career, Mr. Frost was also a member of the important Rules Committee, which the public is now being reminded is crucial to the fair and competent consideration of legislation going to the House floor. As a staff director, I witnessed and participated in both hard-nosed political calculations and high stakes policy consideration.
The House of Representatives was designed by our founders as a deliberative body to reflect the will of the people. They intended the House to be more than a chamber for debate or an elaborate megaphone for the angry, disgruntled, or blindly ambitious. It is a vital tool of American democracy that must function by passing laws that convert ideas to policy and then into action.
It is alarming to see the House being torn apart right now. The Republicans’ disarray, hostility, and dysfunction are unprecedented in modern times and are doing far more damage to our country than to each other. They threaten to permanently damage the U.S. House of Representatives as a deliberative body reflecting the will of the people.
Time and again, I saw Congressman Frost along with other Democrats and responsible Republicans set aside partisan or ideological goals to make sure the business of the House – the business of the people – was conducted fairly and competently. Republican leaders now don’t want to set aside ideology to advance democracy. And even worse, they may have accommodated the extreme and destructive elements of their party for so long that they don’t have the capacity to act responsibly.
Our democracy is strong. Over just the last few years, we suffered but survived a corrupt President who instigated an insurrection. But none of us should think the inherent threat Donald Trump embodies has subsided. His corruption – his dangerous disdain for American democracy – are being put on full display by Republicans in the halls and on the floor of the U.S. House.