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March 19, 2017

 By: Michael Quinn Sullivan

 Politics is inhabited by a series of mythical creatures often invoked yet never actually seen, for example: the “fiscally conservative social moderate” and his cousin, the “socially conservative fiscal liberal.”

They are used – like Greek gods – to justify bad behavior by lawmakers. But in the real world, no legislator exists who is truly a “conservative” on fiscal or business issues but a “liberal” on social issues.

The same people who think nothing of forcing taxpayers to subsidize abortion rarely have any compunction about increasing the bite of government from a small business’ bottom-line. Lawmakers who would glibly impede the exercise of First Amendment liberties can similarly be expected to keep sanctuary cities in existence.

A very real creature is the lazy legislator who hides behind a façade of camaraderie that benefits liberals to the detriment of conservatives.

Consider what happened last week when State Rep. Hugh Shine (R-Temple), a “business” Republican, moved to suspend the rules for, and thereby fast-track, a proposed constitutional amendment authored by the chairman of the Democrat caucus to increase the minimum wage in Texas. This policy not only violates the principles of the free market but also the platform of the Republican Party of Texas.

Despite campaigning on a platform to “fight for limited government” the vast majority of Republican lawmakers rallied to help Shine help the Democrats; including the chairman of the Texas House Republican Caucus, Tan Parker (Flower Mound).

Just 19 Republicans of the 94-member caucus in the Texas House were shown as voting in line with the principles of conservatives and the platform of their party. When the other 73 try to tell you how “pro-business” or “fiscally conservative” they are, ask them to explain their March 16, 2017 vote on the minimum wage bill.

Some might try to deflect with excuses of it being a "procedural" vote, or about helping Democrats fix clerical errors, or the importance of “bipartisanship.” Others will claim they just want to advance “the discussion,” and still others will say they didn't know what they were voting on. In the end, there is this: a Democrat measure betraying the GOP platform got special consideration by the GOP-controlled House, while conservative reforms continue to be ignored.

Just two years ago the House GOP leadership allowed Democrats to consume a day of debate with a minimum wage proposal all the Republicans then voted against. Such gamesmanship by the House leadership will undoubtedly be played again, allowing liberals’ pet projects to consume precious floor time while conservative reforms die on the legislative calendar.

It's a kabuki theater, in which apologists for the Texas House leadership will stage a fake fight during which every Republican will gallantly vote "correctly." They will try to distract voters from seeing all that hasn't been done (sanctuary cities? privacy? tax relief?) by saying, "we're stopping the Democrats from doing something bad." They played this game two years ago, they will do it again.

In truth, Texas Democrats can only get bills to the floor of the Texas House with the blessing and approval of the House GOP leadership.

It is our job as citizens to let lawmakers know the jig is up, and a reckoning is coming. Whether it’s playing games with the calendar, or making up mythical creatures to excuse bad votes, Texans are tired of business as usual.

The myth that voters aren’t paying attention has been firmly disproven, and the Accountability Season of 2018 is just around the corner.