Don’t mess with Texas politics: Laugh instead

Texans are weird.

I wasn’t positive about this until I heard last week that 51 Democratic representatives in the Texas House fled the state to prevent quorum from being reached on a Republican-drawn redistricting plan. This plan would have cost the Democrats five seats in Congress. Although Chicago media didn’t cover it extensively, this story has a significant moral for Northwestern students:

Texas is whack, but we should all follow its example and laugh at the news every once in a while.

I should mention that I’m not from Texas. I was skeptical of the Lone Star State until recently, but this fiasco won me over. In case you missed the details: Democrats were upset about Republican attempts to gerrymander the state, so rather than allow the plan to go to a vote in the Republican-controlled House, they just picked up and moseyed on over to a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Okla. They stayed there for a couple of days until the bill died, much to the chagrin of Republicans.

It was brilliant. Not because the Democrats cry-babied their way to a successful outcome, but because it was one of the only stories I’ve heard all year that made me laugh out loud. I couldn’t dodge the mental image of runaway Democrats sipping O.J. at a Denny’s in Oklahoma.

But this incident didn’t surprise some NU students.

“Texans are like a different type of American,” said Joanna Clavaria, a Weinberg senior.

As you probably know, the Lone Star State was its own republic before it joined the United States. This might explain why Texans are known for their abundant state pride. They often point out how they are the only state allowed to fly their at flag equal height with the U.S. flag. When asked what he considered to be the best part of being a Texas native, Rob Correa, a Weinberg sophomore, had a quick response:

“Being Texan.”

Apparently even egos are bigger in Texas.

But although many Texans proudly boasted about their representatives going to great lengths to make their voices heard, other residents denounced the bizarre occurrence. Erin Baird, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, voiced concerns about the politicians wasting taxpayers’ money.

“It pissed me off,” said Baird, originally from Wharton, Texas. “They’re politicians — they’re not supposed to run away from their problems like babies.”

Republicans shared this criticism in the legislature. But even with party tensions high, there were lighter moments: Several Republican lawmakers played catch on the floor of the Texas House while they waited for the Democratic walk out to end.

“The whole thing was damn funny, though,” Baird said. “(Democrats) were spotted at a Denny’s in Oklahoma. That sucks.”

No matter what your political views are, the humor in this situation has to be appreciated.

After weeks of Laci Peterson, severe acute respiratory syndrome and suicide bombings in the Middle East, a news story that reminds us to laugh at ourselves may just be the most refreshing thing possible. The legislative exodus might have slowed the wheels of the state’s democracy, but the chuckle was worth it.

And besides, it gives us another excuse to poke fun at Texas, I reckon.

Gabe Gutierrez is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]