Political Reform

Spread the love

Have you ever gone to a program to talk about the problems with

Nat Love, a typical cowboy...and freed slave, 1907

Nat Love, a typical cowboy...and freed slave, 1907 when fences were not seen on the open range.

____________ -- you fill in the blank -- and Invariably, someone says, "You need to vote"? The problem with that instruction is you likely already know this and you already do! The point is that voting isn't getting us the changes that we want to see.

Quite the opposite is becoming the case.

What would we do to change this? There are lots of things we can do to make our political system more functional, but taking these three political reform steps would give Texas voters the tools we need to conduct a voter revolt that would shake up politics in Texas all the way to the top of the Capitol dome.

Step One is to End Straight Ticket Voting:  (This was accomplished in the 2017 Legislative Session and will be in place for the 2020 Presidential election.) Now, Texas voters will have to think before they vote -- actually read down the list of candidates and choose in each race or not. The beauty is that independents and minor party candidates (Libertarian and Green, for now in Texas) will more likely be seen. Very few states now allow for straight ticket voting. This included Texas until the 2017 legislative session. This is anti-competitive mechanism was ended (starting in 2020) for both parties to keep voters captive -- providing a "coattail effect" -- with the passage of HB 25. Read this Amarillo Globe Opinion Editorial for more.

Step Two is to pass Initiative, Referendum and Recall (I, R & R): The mother of all reforms is the citizens’ right to statewide initiative and referendum -- the right to petition to place new laws or a vote to revoke laws already passed, on the ballot. Twenty-four states have enjoyed the citizens’ right to petition to place initiatives and referendums on the statewide ballot since the early 1900s. These rights were secured during the agrarian populist era. Texas just missed the boat in 1905 and it failed in the legislature. However, in 1912, Texans a constitutional change that granted I&R (including the right to recall) at the municipal level only -- in home rule cities (cities with at least 5,000 population and a city charter).

The Texas legislature, over years, upon the insistence of big business lobbies and some wayward municipal governments, regularly entertains bills to whittle away at (or to take an axe to), this fundamental right to petition. LIV watches these bills closely and urges you to take action when asked. As well, we can help you learn about how to use this process in your community.

Women’s suffrage, labor rights, social security and many more reforms were won through the citizens initiative process in our country. In recent times I&R seems to be the only way to enact any fundamental and structural political reforms — like term limits and redistricting reform. We strongly support Texans right to initiative, referendum and recall at all levels of elections. Think about how just those two reforms -- term limits and redistricting reform -- would bring about more competitive elections in Texas. I, R & R is the tool to get us there.

Watch this slide show on petition rights jointly produced by LIV and Independent Texans.

Learn more about the power of the initiative from Citizens in Charge Foundation, founded by Paul Jacob, one of the key leaders for term limits.

Step Three is to Implement A Citizens’ Redistricting Commission: The redistricting debacle in Texas, has left most Texans, unless they pay strict attention, unaware of who their Congressional representative is. Democrats ruled Texas and its redistricting with an iron fist until the early 90s, when Republicans took their place.

The good news is that this has broadened the call to disarm both parties of their redistricting weapons with a citizens’ redistricting commission. In November 2012, Austin voters passed the first independent citizens redistricting commission in Texas. It is modeled off of California's commission (that failed passage 6 times until they got their system right -- that is non-partisan) chosen through an innovative lottery system that chooses qualified citizens without conflicts of interest to draw the lines. We need redistricting reform at the state and and federal level for our Congressional redistricting. Learn more about this reform and others here at Independent Texans.

The reality is that these are huge reforms that aren't going to happen until the Texas Legislature sees the whites of our eyes-- we, Texas independents in all our splendor and disagreements agreeing on this critically important reform.

Now get along you little dogies and join here.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *