Tennessee legislature expels two black Democrats for gun-control demonstration on house floor (1 Viewer)

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    U.S. Blues
    Mar 26, 2019
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    Charleston, SC
    A third white female Democrat that joined in the demonstration was not expelled (saved by a single vote).

    The Republicans argue that the demonstration for gun control to protest the Nashville school shooting was so out of order that it compels the members’ expulsion.

    I started a thread because this development is now about something different, not the gun debate.

    The expulsion proceedings threatened to strip more than 200,000 Tennesseans of their elected representation and mark just the fourth time since the end of the Civil War in which the House ousted sitting lawmakers. No House member has ever been removed from elected office for simply violating decorum rules.

    This could have gone in the media thread also

    As Tennessee Republicans expelled two state House Democrats for joining in a protest calling for gun reform from the House floor, the national media turned its attention to the chamber.

    The story was plastered across cable news and front pages alike, with reporters tweeting the moment each of the two was booted — the first expulsion based on partisan politics, instead of misconduct, since the Civil War era. One lawmaker, Rep. Gloria Johnson (D), who is white, barely survived her expulsion vote. The other two, Reps. Justin Jones (D) and Justin Pearson (D), who are Black, were expelled. The three joined a protest at the state Capitol last week after six people were shot and killed at a Nashville elementary school.

    The Republican House supermajority used its dominance to push through the two men’s expulsion, despite Democratic opposition. The votes for the three lawmakers fell largely along party lines — even more so for the two who were expelled.

    These Republicans brought a hammer down on their fellow lawmakers for peacefully protesting. In doing so, they undid the voters’ will and essentially nullified the results of a free and fair election because they couldn’t stomach the dissent. It was a shocking display of anti-democratic vengeance by a party that enjoys near-complete control over the state, that even used its dominance to dismember one of the last remaining Democratic strongholds last redistricting cycle to further entrench itself.

    And yet, some mainstream outlets still struggled to resist both sides-ing the reality.

    Take this Associated Press headline: “Amid polarization, minority party lawmakers face penalties.”

    It’s hard to imagine a worse summation of current political dynamics. Based on the headline, you’d think it’d be a litany of Tennessee-esque vindictive actions taken by both parties. But look at the opening.

    “Oklahoma Republicans removed the state’s only nonbinary legislator from House committees after the lawmaker provided refuge to a transgender rights activist,” it reads. “In Florida, two Democratic leaders were arrested for participating in a protest over abortion restrictions. And in Tennessee, three Democratic House members are facing expulsion for using a bullhorn in the House chamber to show support for demonstrators demanding gun control.”

    Notice a pattern? In each example, Democrats are being punished for protesting, for publicly taking positions that Republicans oppose. And in the two examples where the punishments are political in nature, it’s Republicans who are doling them out.

    These are not examples of “polarization.” They’re examples of a Republican party on an authoritarian, rightward-march, growing increasingly comfortable taking an iron fist to democratically elected lawmakers who express opinions they oppose.

    The failings of the coverage range in severity.

    Take this New York Times piece. The headline is informative: “Tennessee G.O.P. Punishes 2 Democrats by Throwing Them Out of House.”

    But then you reach the sub-heading: “The unseating of the lawmakers threatened to further inflame partisan rancor in a state that is divided over issues like how to respond to a school shooting in Nashville.”

    “Partisan rancor” is the evil being “threatened,” and not the reaction of a healthy democracy to years of chipping away at it.

    Then you have the more minor, but frustrating, sins of omission.

    This NPR headline — “Tennessee House votes to expel 2 of 3 Democratic members over gun protest” — and this Washington Post Twitter description of its article — “Over 100 state and federal Black lawmakers assembled in an emergency Zoom meeting Thursday evening to offer support to Democratic Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, who were unseated from the Tennessee House” — omit critical information. Republicans in the Tennessee House voted to expel them. They were unseated by Republicans.

    It all stems, consciously or not, from the idea that to pin the action on one party, rather than to avoid assigning accountability through the passive voice or by citing the chamber without clarifying its partisan lean, would reveal some kind of bias on the part of the reporter.

    As soon as you step into the land of right-wing outlets, things get, predictably, worse...............

    It took me a minute before I was able to find him. Even with all of the cameras pointing inward, I felt like I was looking at a Where's waldo picture.

    I think I found him, but I'm not sure. That's a hell of a crowd.
    Welp, turns out the TN House Speaker who engineered the ouster doesn’t live in his district and hasn’t for years. Supposedly he does own a condo in his district, but neighbors say he’s never there. He, his wife and kids live just outside Nashville and his kids are enrolled in school there.

    He probably won’t get in any trouble for this, even though it is against the rules of the legislature. What he might get in trouble for is that he has been accepting money from the state meant to reimburse him for his “travel expenses” going back and forth from his district to Nashville. I’m guessing he better have records of events he traveled to in his district for all these dates.

    This has been going on for a while in TN. I love that people are airing all the GOP dirty laundry:

    We need more folks like Pearson (and Jones) in legislature across the country...

    We need more folks like Pearson (and Jones) in legislature across the country...

    I read that piece, it was very well done....agreed....
    We need more folks like Pearson (and Jones) in legislature across the country...

    Well said Mr. Pearson!

    I admire his optimistic stance and I believe there are many out there that carry his beliefs...I'm not one of them. I firmly believe that what happened in Tennessee will continue to happen elsewhere in this country because many of its citizens wish it! I have grown to realize that many, many people in this country believe if you are not a white American, you are not considered an American at all and I am done with justifying my existence to these people.

    I live in a state where my vote doesn't even matter anymore because the GOP moved to minimize it by extreme Gerrymandering at the state level while the D's were basking in the glory of the gains they made in the Civil Rights movement. They failed to understand that the South would not give up its fight against the others and their main goal is to turn back the clock on the the 1964 Civil Rights Act by any means necessary!
    Rep. Sexton, who engineered the expulsion, is finding all his dirty laundry being aired. He has allegedly defrauded the state from tens of thousands of dollars by accepting travel expenses for trips he didn’t take.

    I‘m now reading about a thinly concealed affair with a lobbyist who works at the TN Capitol, and allegations of him texting dick pics pretty freely to whoever he thinks might be receptive. (guys - women don’t like these texts, in my experience. Nobody really wants to see your junk on their phones, lol, with the possible exception of someone you are romantically involved with, and then it’s still iffy).

    These men obviously thought they were above reproach. Above criticism. Free to behave however they wanted. I hope he spends the rest of his days under investigation, and if they find any wrongdoing that he pays for it in an appropriate manner.

    The TN R party would be smart to get together and remove him from the Speaker position, and find someone within their ranks that is earnest about actually representing their constituents to fill the role. What is unknown is if they have anyone like that in their fold.

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