Despite the gruesomely hot and humid weather, this is tourist season in Washington and today the nation's capital welcomes some 55 Texans to town. All of them are Democrats who ostensibly serve in the state legislature. But they left Austin to deny Republicans a quorum. The issue at hand, naturally, is election law.
You've heard this one before: GOP lawmakers say they are enacting sensible regulations designed to minimize confusion, prevent voter fraud, and ensure confidence in election results. Democrats insist, rather loudly, that these laws are little more than voter suppression schemes aimed at minorities and fueled by Donald Trump's "big lie" that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
There's some truth in both versions, and as I've written before in this space, in a functioning democracy the two parties' dueling priorities could be reconciled by (a) passing laws making it easier to vote and (b) including in those reforms security measures ensuring that Americans only vote once -- and in the right location. It's a challenge, yes, but it ain't rocket science.
In the meantime, because the renegade legislators come from Texas, the debate quickly centered on which side had the bigger cojones. Knowing his audience, President Biden made a point of lauding the Democrats for their courage. Vice President Kamala Harris called them "fighters."
"I would say it's a very un-Texan thing to do to cut and run in the face of a fight," countered Republican Sen. John Cornyn. "They turned their backs, hopped on a private jet, and ran from this fight."
At least one Texas Democrat agreed. "I'm personally a veteran; I'd rather speak my piece from the floor," said Eddie Lucio, a state senator from Brownsville, one of the few elected Democrats who remained in Austin. "Nobody wants election fraud, whether you're Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, minority or non-minority."
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.