At noon on Tuesday, the question of who will be the Speaker of the Texas House in the 84th Session will be resolved. Members of the Texas House will vote for the status quo, or for bold leadership. They will stick with the Austin establishment, or side with the people of Texas. They will chart a different course from Washington, or they will ensure Austin is run just like DC.
In their vote, they will exhibit the cowardice of convenience, or the courage of their convictions.
With this vote, conservatives have already won.
Make no mistake: the vote being held at noon on the first day of the legislative session is a victory for the people of Texas. Many of the weak-kneed “conservatives” didn’t want the vote at all. The Austin establishment is scared to death of it. The incumbent speaker and his surrogates have spent months saying that it wouldn’t happen.
And yet, the vote is happening. While the vote tally matters, the vote occurring matters a great deal more.
It will be the first time in 40 years that there has been a record vote on the speakership, putting competing visions for the governance of the House – and of Texas – before the state representatives. Will your state representative vote to keep a speaker who has abused his office by bullying a whistleblower? Will they keep in office a speaker whose team has pledged to thwart conservative reforms?
Or will your lawmaker vote in accordance with the wishes of the people of Texas? Will your legislator vote for a man of honor and integrity?
The people have spoken loud and clear. At every turn, in the primary and general elections statewide, voters sided strongly with the more vocal conservative, with the candidate presenting a vision for bold reforms.
The first vote of the Texas House will be a clarifying one: does your House member support the business-as-usual, pay-to-play culture of Austin, or the agenda of Texans?
No longer will the question of leadership in the Texas House be left unaddressed in elections. The governing tide has shifted.
Every legislator who votes for the incumbent tomorrow – especially those who come from counties that endorsed the challenger – will own the record of obstructionism that the incumbent has established and threatened to continue. Any conservative reform left un-attempted on the House floor will be the fault of those “conservatives” who re-elected the incumbent speaker. They cannot hide behind Democrats or a leadership imposed upon them by the “moderates.” In their vote for the incumbent, they will buy his record. They own it all: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Texans have expressed themselves, they are watching, and will remember. The next election is in 14 months, and candidates are already exploring challenges. Legislative leadership will most certainly be an issue.
A final point on the validity of challenging an incumbent. I received a letter this weekend from one of the conservative-when-convenient guys. He said he was siding with the incumbent speaker because he couldn’t be assured the challenger would succeed.
This is the guy who would have opposed George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He would have run from the Alamo, and then begged Sam Houston to surrender outside San Jacinto.
We are not called to win, but to be faithful to our convictions. We are called to hold true to our values, not cowardly seek political convenience. True victory comes from being faithful.
Lastly, if Republicans in the Texas House side with the incumbent speaker they will put to rest the notion that the establishment GOP in Austin is any different from that in Washington, DC. Texans have grown weary of the campaign-trail conservatives who sell out to the status quo once in office.
Those members re-electing the incumbent will declare themselves to be pawns of the lobby, and not statesmen representative of the people.
Texans have expressed their desire for bold reforms. Even if our legislators are not, Texans are faithful to the principles of liberty. The insiders can try to stack the deck, but their stranglehold on power is coming to an end.
The will of the people will not be long ignored. From the first vote to the last, the people are watching and winning.