On What Happens When It Doesn't Matter

It's hard to believe now, but there was a time in 2003 when the Democratic Texas house, cowering in their minority, found themselves voting on a resolution - HCR 75, whose sole purpose was "Memorializing the U.S. Congress to support President Bush's policies of war on terrorism, homeland security, and disarmament action against Iraq." The Texas Legislature passed the resolution overwhelmingly, with only three Democrats voting against it: Lon Burnam (Ft. Worth), Paul Moreno (El Paso) and Eddie Rodriguez (Austin).

It could be -- and has been said -- that this resolution didn't matter. It was a showcase resolution, made to become a political weapon for another, bloodless war -- the upcoming campaign season. Good Democrats with a working knowledge of the military, like Rick Noriega, who could have taken a stand for or against Bush's war policies, abstained from voting in an effort to avoid sullying their political strategies. Because, if you asked most people, it didn't matter anyway. We were at war.

It didn't matter -- no amount of posturing on a Texas House resolution would bring home the troops, or stop the bleeding of our forces' endless occupation. The only brigades that these votes affected directly were the Democratic foot soldiers of the Texas House, their Republican opponents unable to hit them with anti-war flak.

So it is no surprise it was quickly forgotten -- forgotten by the very people who, after casting their votes in 2003, now proudly puff their chests against George Bush and his policies of war on terrorism and homeland security.

A new resolution was quietly introduced in early January, in the US House by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The resolution, HR 104, seeks to establish a national commission "comprised of experts outside government service to investigate the broad range of policies of the Bush administration that were undertaken by the Bush administration under claims of unreviewable war powers." With a relatively low budget of $3 million, it will allow the commission to have the subpoena powers necessary to investigate issues ranging from detainee treatment to waterboarding to extraordinary rendition.

As the resolution awaits its fate, likely doomed to be set aside for seemingly more important issues, one wonders whether its presence even matters. And I'm reminded of a quote I read in my research on Texas's HCR 75. Leo Berman, a Republican from Tyler, rejected Lon Burnam's amendment to HCR 75 stating that the war was "illegal," Berman saying that it was merely Burnam's opinion. Burnam retorted "Actually, it's the personal opinion of a majority of people in the world. They just don't happen to be in the Texas House of Representatives."

If there's anything we've learned over the last eight years, it's that it does matter. If you're a voter, you've either learned or had reinforced that your vote matters -- and even more, your involvement after that vote. Saddam Hussein has found that a bluff matters. Corporations have discovered that regulations matter, and banks have found that their own fiscal responsibility matters. Texas Democrats and Republicans alike will forever have a resolution supporting Bush's war on terror. They have memorialized a policy of torture and waterboarding and as-yet investigated war crimes. And so to my politicians -- local, state, and national -- I make this reminder: The next time you think it doesn't matter, please remember that it does.

To sign the CREDO petition urging the US House to pass the resolution, click here.

4 Response to "On What Happens When It Doesn't Matter"

  • Libby at Aurora Primavera Says:

    MR is BACK. Okay, you weren't really ever gone. Anyways, hells yeah to this post.

  • FUBAR Says:

    Yeah, what Libby said!!! (even if at times she's a no-show to her own legislative reception)

  • Anonymous Says:

    Oh, if I were only so sure of what I had learned in the last 8 years.

    High on the list would be how much damage a few hundred crooks, bankers, politicians can do.

    And how much hope we can gain from kicking a few of the fers out.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I agree with you, and appreciate Rep. Lon Burnam's caring stances, honesty and strength of conviction.
    We need brave souls like him to drag government's political discourse back from the fundamentalist right wing.
    Going along to get along got us in the fix we're in.