Attorney Marcus Barret found it impossible to govern, especially under these circumstances and with a crowded and fractured Democratic Party. The Texas Democrat issued a farewell letter to his colleagues, complaining about the daily demands of the job and the inability to govern in a gridlocked Washington. The lengthy missive was obtained by Texas’ U.S. News & World Report.
You don’t have to say I could never govern, that is simply not true, I had a chance and I couldn’t make it happen. Instead, I’ve resigned at a time when it is most difficult for our party. Yes, I could write a resignation letter describing the problems, but I’ve done that and will take a bit of a beating from the press for doing so.
It is easier to write a news story that describes the coming chaos than to sit around a table and try to fix the problems. When I first ran for the House, I only won the primary because the other candidates faced too many problems and what we had in common outweighed what we had in differences. Since then, it has gotten harder to govern. We have too many conflict within our party in the House and it makes governing very hard. Add in White House infighting and it has become nearly impossible to govern at all.
As for me, I’m done.
My efforts as a legislator to keep liberal immigration reforms, including single payer, out of the budget have come to naught. I understand that we cannot all agree on the same things when negotiating a budget. But too often, hectoring people during meetings without any plan to solve a problem only makes matters worse.
I saw this in Texas during the final months of my term as a state representative, when the budget negotiations collapsed over irreconcilable differences. Most legislators still think these difficult conversations are something worth having. It is not, and it is distracting from what is really important – actually passing a budget that does the people’s business. That is the only good way to govern and that is the way I will forever go.
I have concluded that I cannot try my best to keep the many tensions inside the Democratic Party from breaking down and causing problems. These issues tend to get magnified when you are in the House or in the Senate and dealing with the executive branch. I can also see that a number of the Democrats who are already running for president need to spend time working on themselves – their brand and their message. If their brand is still stuck in 2006, then I have a problem with that.
As for Democrats at the local level, I have chosen to step aside, as many Texas Democrats have suggested. I’ve learned that while the party has many opportunities for growth, they are also ripe for some divisions – and this is not the time to play political hardball. Instead, Democrats should embrace a message of unity and the power of working together.
Each of you I hope has taken notes on these lessons and shared them with your colleagues. It seems clear that each of us, in our own ways, is going to have to change the way we run campaigns and the way we elect our leaders. I will be doing that, but that is not enough. I think there is going to be more work on that as we look for a new Senate majority leader.
So I am recommending the country take two weeks off and focus on resolving the myriad divisions within the Democratic Party and after that, the gulf between Trump’s policies and Democrats. I cannot wait for that to be resolved so that we can begin working on solutions together.