On Wednesday, January 21, 2015, history was made in the Texas Senate. The so-called “two thirds rule” or “blocker bill” that has been in place for decades was changed. No longer will it take at least 21 votes to debate and vote on a bill on the floor of the Senate. It will still require a super-majority, but only 19 votes rather than 21 votes. The Democrats decried the change and predicted the fall of human civilization because the minority party would no longer be able to hold bills hostage. The purpose of this article is not to discuss the rationale behind the “two thirds rule” or its value, or lack thereof, to Texans. The focus will be on admissions made by two Democrat Senators that all Texans should find shocking, but unfortunately not surprising.
One of the reasons given by Republicans for the rule change was that Republican candidates had campaigned on a promise to reduce the number of votes need to debate a bill to 19 so that much-needed legislation was not held hostage by the Democrats as has been the case for several sessions. While Senators from both Parties admitted that elections do have consequences, Sen. Ellis, a Democrat from Houston, made a shocking statement. He stated that it is okay to say one thing to your constituents to get elected, then vote differently in the Senate. In essence, he was saying that it is okay to lie to voters to get elected! That one statement alone is proof that Sen. Rodney Ellis is not fit to serve in the Texas Senate. Voters in his District deserve better; all Texans deserve better.
Shortly after Sen. Ellis made his pronouncement, Austin area Democrat Sen. Kirk Watson spoke. He very clearly endorsed Sen. Ellis’ position on lying to voters, but it was equally clear that he realized mid-sentence that he was going on record with his comments and he tried to back down. It did not work.
Some will argue that candidates lie all the time to get elected and unfortunately this is correct. What is distressing about Sen. Ellis’ and Sen. Watson’s comments is the fact that they feel so secure in their Districts that they can openly admit that they believe that lying to voters is acceptable. Sadly, it is clear that the age of great statesmen is over and the age of “say anything to get elected, then do anything you want in office” is upon us. Texans deserve better and the constituents of Senators Ellis and Watson should send someone else to Austin in the next election. We can differ on issues, but voters should demand honesty in candidates and elected officials. Otherwise, voting becomes nothing more than a formality and the will of the voters is rendered meaningless.