The political culture in Texas is interestingly distinct when compared to other states in the US. It has a uniquely modified constitution that has gone through reconstruction stages. The Texas constitution and conservative nature of its citizens have been frequently challenged to have a negative impact on the current society. There are various aspects within the system that are comparatively more effective and beneficial to the state. However, the final position is that the state needs to revisit its constitution and make sweeping changes.
Texas has a varying population distribution of Whites, Latinos, and African Americans. Each of these groups has a significant population in almost every part of the nation. However, there are several regions in which each group is concentrated. For instance, most Latinos population is along the Mexican border towards west Texas, the African Americans to the East and the white take a dominant region, which is the Panhandle, Central, and North region. Most Hispanic in Texas are of Mexican descent due to immigration when evading economic and political crises and hence their high population along the Border (Champagne & Harpham, 2013). The Anglos or Whites of European origin were among the first to settle in Texas and hence their almost even distribution in the state. However, issues like defeat during the civil war and immigration have affected their population.
Notably, Texas has been governed by diverse political regimes starting by Spain, Mexico, up to attaining its independence. Also, events like the Civil war and the formation of confederate states of America had a significant influence on the structuring of its constitution. The first constitution was drafted in 1827 under the Mexican rule. The amendments that followed were in 1836,1845, 1861, 1866,1869, and 1876, respectively. The reconstructions above led to the development of a cumulative constitution that was inevitably lengthy and radical (Jillson, 2015). Therefore, it is unfavorable because the current world is highly dynamic in societal and political aspects and demographic profiles, frequent amendments have to be made for it to suit the current environment.
Primary elections happen when citizens vote to elect a representative of their party in the general elections. In Texas, they are held as the first ones in the electoral cycle, and the winner has to attain an absolute majority. If otherwise, runoff elections are held between the top two candidates in the results of the primary one. The winners of the runoffs for each party compete in the open primary, where all the registered voters are allowed to participate. In Texas, however, a closed primary election is conducted where eligible voters must have a political affiliation.
Essentially, the political culture in Texas has been conservative. The citizens in their respective political parties had unwaveringly pushed for their radical ideologies. Notably, instability in the conservative nature of the Democratic party led to the shift of members to the Republican party in the 1960s.
Apart from Republicans and Democrats, there were third party groups that contributed to the formation of the political system in the state. The Dixiecrats were farmer movements that disserted the National Democratic Party and became segregationists. Attempts to make Texas a single-party state in the 1950s led to the further rebellion of the Shivercrat Movement. The group played a significant role in influencing politics against the Democratic presidential nominees. Conservative Democrats (Blue Dogs) mainly played a baseless antagonistic role in the legislature due to their social conservatism. Despite a decline in the number of blue dogs, the Republican party remains dominantly rigid in maintaining the status quo. Therefore, despite Texas’ transition, it has progressively retained a conservative environment.
Unlike the US, where the legislature has annual meetings, Texas’ constitution only allows for a biennial session. The intent behind the arrangement was to limit the body’s power (Champagne & Harpham, 2013). The sessions in Texas are supposed to last for 140 days. The time constraint limits the legislature’s ability to handle the cumulated workload. Special sessions are introduced when the members fail to meet their business within the stipulated timeline, especially due to unavoidable hitches during regular sessions. The latter is called by the governor, who also sets the agenda, and they do not last more than 30 days.
As one of the three branches of the government in Texas, the legislature seemingly plays the dominant role. It is comprised of two chambers, state senate and the house of Representatives, which are headed by the President of the senate—currently the lieutenant governor—and speaker of the house, respectively. The former is voted in a statewide election, whereas the latter is selected by house members. The President of the senate mainly serves in making procedural rulings, appointing the chair of committees signing, assigning and referring bills, and casting a deciding vote when there is a tie between opposing parties (Champagne & Harpham, 2013). The speaker presides motions in the assembly and is in charge of the appointment of committees and enforcement of rules during debates.
Seven positions of power essentially control Texas governance. They include the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Land Commissioner, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and the Comptroller. Those who take these seats have to be directly voted in by the citizens in the state. The plural executive system ensured that the power was not concentrated on one person and that people obtained a direct say on who to occupy those positions (Jillson, 2015). However, the governor holds much power when compared to the rest as the constitution allows for veto powers on specific items. Conversely, the US constitution allows for a unitary executive that gives the President unfragmented power to veto bills passed by the legislature.
The Free Rider problem is an organizational concept where people benefit from the hard work of others. It becomes an issue because it imbues laxity in the community, thus leading to low production. The availability of common interest helps to reduce the free-rider problem. Companies utilize attractive incentives like access to exclusive information, special discounts, and so on.
The selection of judges in Texas involves the public and interest groups through an election. However, the system risks bias since the public may not be aware of the qualifications and skills of the judges and instead rely on attractiveness. It has a considerable likelihood for voters to make an uninformed decision. Nine elected judges in the supreme court serve a term of six years (Champagne & Harpham, 2013). The same case applies to the Judges in the court of criminal appeals. However, the former deals with civil cases and the latter with criminal cases. The cases are stipulated by the constitution (under article 5), and the courts do not have control on which type of cases they can
The constitution in Texas and the conservative nature of its citizens face a lot of criticism in the modern world. However, there are noticeable features within the political culture that should be appreciated. However, on a grand scale, the rigidity and restrictive framework constitution limit governance in the region, and it should, therefore, be given a thorough amendment or complete reconstruction.
Champagne, A., & Harpham, E. J. (2013). Governing Texas. WW Norton.
Jillson, C. (2015). Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State. Routledge.
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