Today, Joe Biden made a grave and disturbing announcement. This country faces a crisis more dangerous than anything since the American Civil War, Biden said. Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam. The walking dead of Andersonville. The killing fields of the 19th century American south. That’s what we’re looking at right now, announced the president of the United States. By attempting to pass laws requiring voters to show an ID when they vote, Republicans are risking permanent internal division, as well as violent conflict. Think we’re overstating? Here’s what he said:
BIDEN: There’s an unfolding assault taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote and fair and free elections. … We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War.
The Civil War? Sound overheated to you? Joe Biden would like you to know: This is not hyperbole. Voter ID laws are literally like the Civil War: Habeas corpus suspended. State legislatures shut down. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lying dead in fields. That was the Civil War.
Biden made it clear that’s what he meant. He said it twice. When was the last time an American president gave a speech like this? Probably not since the 1860s, during the actual Civil War. It’s hard to know how to process this. Even allowing for the dementia, it was a stunningly irresponsible thing for an American leader to say out loud. Dangerous even.
On what grounds did Joe Biden say it? What drove him to it? Here’s the Fort Sumter he was referring to: Yesterday, 51 Democrats in the Texas legislature left their state and flew to Washington, D.C. on private jets. They did this in order to deny the Texas legislature a quorum, and then they shut it down. They shut down the democratic process in their state. By leaving the state, they violated their sworn duty to represent voters and committed what amounted to an act of, yes, insurrection. Why? So that Texas lawmakers couldn’t pass laws against voter fraud — laws that the voters of Texas have said overwhelmingly they want passed. That’s democracy. But they’re not getting it.
The measures Texas voters would like to see become law include a bill that would require some form of identification — a driver’s license number, a social security card, something valid and real — for voters who submit mail-in ballots. Another bill would require the Texas Secretary of State to review voter rolls for non-citizens and remove people who are not allowed to vote. Nothing in the bill is radical or without extensive precedent. If you oppose voter fraud, it’s all pretty obvious and non-controversial at all. That’s why it’s so popular with voters.
But Texas Democrats don’t oppose voter fraud. Nor do they believe in multiparty politics — so they stopped the entire process cold. Now, preventing lawmakers from making laws— shutting down the vote — wouldn’t seem like a defense of democracy. In fact, it would appear to be just the opposite — it would appear to be an assault on the very core of democracy, the legislature, the people’s house. Even diabolical old Vladimir Putin never attempted to do that. But according to Joe Biden, this time it’s necessary. Sometimes you’ve got to end democracy in order to save democracy. That is, if you’re not a racist. Requiring people to prove their identity when they cast a vote, said the President, is an “unrelenting 21st century Jim Crow assault.” How’s that exactly? Biden never explained. He didn’t need to. His bootlickers on cable news jumped in to do the talking:
JOY REID: Texas Democrats taking a major stand for voting rights … It is a dramatic yet effective move that the national Democratic Party would do well to pay attention to.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Leaving their legislative chamber without a quorum was the last best thing they thought they could do to preserve voting rights there and try to defeat the Republican voter suppression bill.
NICOLLE WALLACE: The Texas Democrats fighting back in the face of Republicans’ very successful voter suppression drive.
DON LEMON: Texas Democrats fleeing their state in a last-ditch effort to block a restrictive new voting law as the GOP is pushing its assault on the most sacred right on Americans, the right to vote.
The “Republican voter suppression bill?” How exactly does it suppress voting, precisely? Brian Williams never told us. He just repeated the talking point. What a brainless shill he’s become. So many have. But pay no attention to the dead-eyed news anchor telling you the usual lies. Consider the heroes of modern Texas, saving the vote by stopping the vote. There’s even a picture of them on a charter bus to the private airfield — the FBO, in private equity, speak. They may be smiling in the picture, but it’s only to mask the pain.
They may be drinking Miller Lite, but it’s not in celebration. It’s in solidarity with the campassinos and campassinas around the state of Texas, on whose behalf they were drinking those beers — people who may not be actual citizens of the United States, who may not speak our language or follow our laws, but who still somehow have the God-given given right to choose our government for you — in other words, to vote Democrat.
It was an intense moment on that bus. Picture Che Guevara sailing into Havana Harbor on the Grandma to bring the revolution to its climax. And it only got more intense when the charter buses arrived at the FBO. One Texas lawmaker, a child-like former teacher named James Talarico, tweeted about the dangers of the private jet.
“Just landed in Memphis on our way to DC. Thank y’all for your well wishes. We left behind our families, our livelihoods, & our beloved Texas. But our sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifices brave Americans have made throughout history to protect the sacred right to vote.”
Those sacrifices include drinking Miller Lite on a private plane. Moving.
Just landed in Memphis on our way to DC. Thank y’all for your well wishes.
We left behind our families, our livelihoods, & our beloved Texas. But our sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifices brave Americans have made throughout history to protect the sacred right to vote.
— James Talarico (@jamestalarico) July 12, 2021
We don’t have many photos from the private plane — just like we don’t have many paintings from Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. Sometimes you have to imagine it.
But we do have one shot, and those people are terrified. They’re not taking this trip on a private plane for themselves. They’re taking it for democracy, which paradoxically they’ve just suspended. Revolutions are full of bitter little ironies like that. But we learn to live with that in the name of the greater good.
You might be wondering: How did all those lawmakers get on that plane? Can you just walk on a plane now? Didn’t they require some form of photo identification? A racist ID card? And where are their masks? Aren’t those required on planes? Sure. You are. In normal times. But when there’s a revolution in progress, normal rules are suspended. Che never wore a surgical mask. His rifle was his ID card. And so with these slightly chunky revolutionary heroes.
Once the brigade from Texas finally arrived in the capital city of Washington, they weren’t met with artillery fire or Hessian sharpshooters. They were met with something far more daunting: television cameras. How did they handle it? With the power of song.
DEMS SINGING: We will overcome. We will overcome someday. If in our heart we do believe, we shall overcome today.
What happens when a cliché becomes so time warn it folds in on itself that it folds in on itself like a cliché black hole and sucks all of reality into itself? That’s what happens.
To an untrained eye, that footage might seem a little self-aggrandizing. It might seem like those lawmakers are the only ones who appreciate their own bravery and the sound of their own voices. But that’s not true. There are still people in this country who recognize how truly heroic their political leaders are.
One Texas lawmaker, Gene Wu, insisted that his fans couldn’t wait to see him when he got to Washington.
“Landed safely in DC. … It was wonderful to randomly run into people who recognized me and applauded what we are doing.”
None of those people who were vigorously applauding Gene Wu appear to be visible in his tweet, but you can rest assured, they’re out there. Just out of camera shot. Presumably, Gene Wu’s fans were also applauding as he sat eating lunch in the airport dining area. Wu documented exactly what he ate in a follow-up tweet, just for the historical record.
“My first meal as a fugitive. Delicious.”
At some point in the modern era, it becomes a little hard to distinguish between hero and clinical narcissist. Star of TikTok videos, a state legislator. But whatever, those distinctions don’t mean anything. Gene Wu is a hero just for eating those croutons. How big a hero? Gene Wu wouldn’t say — he’s a man of modesty.
But another Texas representative, Trey Martinez Fischer, spelled it out for us. According to Trey Martinez Fisher, Gene Wu eating salad at an airport is very much like the civil rights leaders of old taking truncheon blows to the head.
TREY MARTINEZ FISCHER (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: This is the risk that we take to stand up for democracy. I mean, we are talking about voting rights here. There were people who were beaten with clubs and attacked by dogs, and people who were murdered to protect the sacred rights. So this threat and this finger-pointing by the governor, you know, is not going to intimidate all of us. We are strongly united, and we want to bring, you know, voting rights reform to this country.
As you’d expect, Kamala Harris wants in on the action. She’s been protesting for civil rights since a child growing up in Canada, sorry America. Since 2 years old, she’s been demanding freedom, so she’s just announced she’s going to meet with these freedom fighters sometime this week. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, won’t be there. He’s promised to arrest them and bring them to the state House if they ever come back to Texas. So are they coming back to Texas? No, they’re not. Not until the legislative session is over.
Effectively these freedom fighters, the modern Che Guevaras, these crossers of the Edmund Pettis bridge slash Chipotle, have shut down Texas’ democratically-elected government. That’s how you know they’re defending democracy. That and the private planes.