martes, 11 de abril de 2006

Campaigns and Elections

Daniel Franco

Government 2301-2460

Dr. Eileen Lynch

April 2006

24. Campaigns and Elections

Explain and assess the role of elections in Texas.

Elections are crucial.

The textbook tells us that the participation of the citizens is what makes government legitimate, and morally right and worthy of support. If large numbers of citizens neglect or refuse to vote, it raises questions about the most basic underpinnings of political authority. Voting is participation in an election and it decreases alienation and opposition by making people aware that they are in fact part of the system. The effect people who vote have on public policy when it chooses one set of candidates who endorse one set of policies over another is that, although one single vote might not make a difference, a coalition of similar-minded voters can in effect choose who represents them in the decision-making process of government.

That said, and even though it has been pretty easy in Texas to register as a voter for years, the actual voter turnout has been consistently lower than the national level. Little consolation is the fact that the trend has been climbing unsteadily, since Texas voter turnout was about 7% points below the national level as a whole for national elections. It has never reached 50% yet. And these are the good numbers. The turnout for local offices is even worse. Some mayors seem to have been elected by less than 10% of their city’s electorate.

The textbook offers some possible explanations for this lackadaisical approach to civic responsibility in Texas.

Maybe, Texans don’t vote because they are not trained to participate.

Or maybe the “no-party” system prevalent in Texas does not foster an environment of healthy competition that would impel voter participation to more avid levels.

Or because Texas is a poor state (or more than likely a state with very, very uneven distribution of wealth) and the poor people stay at home and don’t vote because they haven’t been educated about it and have no competitive parties trying to get them out to vote.

Regardless of the many possibilities, the fact remains that voter turnout has been slightly rising in the past few years, and there is the hope that with the Republican Party gaining more and more of a foothold in this state, it will foster voter education and will have a positive effect on the electorate participation.

Because, otherwise, with such a large sector of financially-challenged minorities on the rise in population, the distribution of wealth problem seems one of the very last things that will be solved in Texas in order to foment better voter turnout in local, state and national elections.

Sources:

Texas Politics, 9th Edition, Richard H. Kraemer, Charldean Newell, David F. Prindle, Thomson Wadsword, © 2005

United States and Texas government I. Programs 1-26 [video recording], Presented by Dallas TeleLearning DCCCD, © 2005

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