Preservation our ability to choose should be a top priority

Two of three representatives who engaged in a gun control protest were expelled from the Tennessee legislature by a party-line vote. They are the third and fourth people expelled from the House since the Civil War. 

The offense that they were expelled for was acknowledging and trying to speak about a gathering of protesters in the public section of the house. The legislative body refused to discuss the protests and cut the speakers’ mics every time they tried.

The legislators then spoke out of turn and used a megaphone to chant with the crowd. After a 45-minute pause in the proceedings, the session continued with few interruptions.

The Republicans in the legislature claimed this offense was on par with the Jan 6 riot at the US capitol building, in spite of the orderliness of the protest, and vowed repercussions. These repercussions took the form of expulsions.

They represent a further push by the mobilized factions of the Republican Party to go against the will of the people. The offenses are minuscule in comparison to the punishment.

The toolbox of repercussions afforded to the House included removal from committees if they truly felt it was necessary, but instead they chose the one that removed representatives from being a voice for their district.

By taking the voice from their constituents, the Tennessee legislature takes its place next to many other Republican politicians around the country who are trying to forgo the will of the people in favor of their own power. Look no further than Moore v Harper and the attempts by Florida to criminalize the Democratic Party. 

Not every Republican introduces this kind of legislation or even agrees with it. However, reliably, those less radical Republicans will back their party’s initiatives. The result is effectively a united front against the will of the people. 

This is not to say that being a Republican is inherently anti-democratic. Debate in a democracy is part of its healthy growth, but the current trajectory of Republican politicians is to try for power by all means. 

It falls on all of us to select politicians that will try to actually represent their constituents rather than themselves. For Republicans, who have the most say in the politicians that their party picks, that means choosing trustworthy candidates in the primary.

Democracy is precious. Regardless of your opinions on individual policies, the first and most important consideration for choosing a candidate should be the preservation of our ability to choose.