Democrats have typically had the edge over their Republican counterparts at creating narratives and framing battles in the public debate at large. But as of late, it appears they could stand to do a better job of picking their battles. In today’s outrage culture and the 24-hour news cycle, it seems that everything, according to the left, is worthy of righteous indignation, even if that means being at war over something as generally accepted—nay, constitutionally protected—as free speech.

History shows Democrats have consistently advocated for the curtailing, squashing, and stifling of speech they disagree with. Recently, however, they have tried to portray themselves as the champions of voter participation and civic duty when it comes to registering new voters and increasing turnout during elections. A new development has emerged this week, though, that may suggest otherwise.

The super PAC Engage Texas was recently created as a Republican project to register new voters who are likely to hold conservative values but either do not typically vote or have recently moved from other states. The project came under fire this week when Texas House Democrat Caucus Chairman State Rep. Chris Turner (Fort Worth) took to social media to bring their efforts under scrutiny. Because they have definite political affiliations, Turner suggested, they should not be allowed to participate in the exercise of free speech or assembly in registering voters and petitioning in favor of pro-life causes on public property—in this case, outside DPS offices.

Turner’s thread amounts to a big stink about Republicans working to keep Texas red in 2020 by beating Democrats to a new concept. Some suggested his envy of having not come up with the idea first may be the driving force behind his Twitter temper tantrum.

“Your just mad cuz Planned Parenthood didn’t beat them to the punch. Get over it. There was nothing illegal about what they were doing,” one person noted.

Several others chimed in to illustrate the hypocrisy of Turner’s outrage.

“The NERVE of them, trying to encourage like-minded people to register in a public area. Targeted voter registrations should remain the exclusive domain of DEMOCRATS!!!” another person added.

“I guess when your party is in the distinct minority in the state, you hate to see average, everyday citizens being registered to vote,” one person replied.

Eventually, Turner sent a sternly written letter to DPS asking questions about the approval process for this initiative, which reaches virtually every corner of the state, as he acknowledged.

Turner has continued to complain about the efforts of Engage Texas on social media this week, suggesting Democrats will continue to sound off on and attack protected political speech in the public domain as we inch closer to the looming 2020 election cycle.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.


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