The events of 2001–2003 in Texas make up an amazing tale that continues to have a significant effect on national and state politics. I have tried to present those events in a straightforward and nonpolitical manner. Ultimately, however, I think the story is a tragedy. It is tragic not because one side won or lost, but because it illustrates the misplaced priorities of our government officials and institutions at a time when the future of this country demands more.
One reason why the events are tragic is obvious. They show national and state officials losing sight of the needs of Texans while focusing on the misbegotten priority of partisan dominance. Like most states, Texas in 2003 was struggling with many serious state issues, including an increasingly inadequate public school system and a serious shortfall in available revenues. The editorial board of the Houston Chronicle was correct in February 2003 when, on hearing about the possibility of redistricting, it observed: "At a time when Texas is grasping for pennies to immunize Texas children, legislators don't need to waste resources giving booster shots to political power plays."
The outlay of energy by the partisan participants in 2003 was enormous. Politicians of both parties put aside other personal and state affairs in favor of warring over an unnecessary redistricting. For lawmakers who seldom have time to focus intently on a single subject for a few hours, much less for days, it was extraordinary for eleven Democratic senators to encamp themselves together for forty days in a hotel over a thousand miles from the Texas Capitol because of partisan rancor. For most of that time, Republican senators remained gathered in Austin, restricted to their offices and apartments and seething with a similar rancor, while Republican congressmen shuttled in and out of the city lobbying for partisan district lines. Altogether the state officials and lawmakers spent almost 140 days (June–October) plotting and fretting almost solely about congressional redistricting. The personal sacrifice by these