In Texas the primaries offer revealing insights into the two dominate factions. As is the tradition in many states, Texas supports efforts of the two largest parties by allowing them to use public facilities to have their members vote in the primary elections in an effort to set the party’s convention platform and candidates who will meet in the general election. Remaining factions must use their conventions alone for this process and independent voters must choose to either vote with one of two factions or pass on primary voting.
When arriving at the polling place people are asked which ballot they will be voting on, Democrat or Republican. Those choosing the Democratic Party version this year saw six referenda items to choose from, the first being a central planners dream. Those opting for the Republican Party version saw four propositions, the fourth asking if Texas should support one of the keystones of our Supreme Law, the 10th Amendment. The referendums and proposals provide voters with a glimpse into party priorities for the years ahead.
Texas republicans are being asked if they would support replacing property taxes with an alternative other than income taxes without details on what an alternative would be. Also proposed is a mandate for Texas cities to follow federal immigration laws or lose state funds. A third proposal states Texas should prohibit government entities from taking union dues out of public employees’ paychecks. Finally there is the proposition regarding the 10th Amendment and how Texas should “strongly assert” the rights laid out, complete with the text of the amendment.
Investing time at the party’s website reveals no further details or background. There is a lot on voting, candidates, and many areas to donate and get involved but no news of these propositions even in their news section. Four items supposedly so important to the party they appear on their primary ballot yet little substance.
These statements are so basic a republican voter will be hard pressed to vote against them (while a democrat would easily reject them) if they support the direction of their party. After reading them a voter likely will think “of course we should” and simply vote in support of them, guaranteeing passage by a large margin. Replace property taxes with something, sure. Start enforcing immigration laws, of course. Quit taking union dues directly from public employees, of course, why do public employees even need a union? Support the 10th Amendment, sure and let’s not forget those other nine. The voter is supposed to feel as if the party has really blazed a trail with these important propositions and now they’ve lent their voice to the cause.
Texas democrats also get their chance to voice their support of party referendums. At least on their website the referendums are easily found through a drop-down menu but once again there is no further substance or rationalization for why the six items are so important they needed to be on the ballot. To the party’s credit two of them (the first and fourth) reference proposed acts a voter could reference for deeper understanding.
The very first one is crafted in a way that succinctly spells out a democratic socialist’s dream of society as it should be under central planning. It is no wonder why party leadership has struggled to define the difference between a democrat and a socialist. The other five offer items that a democratic voter would be hard pressed to vote against if they support the direction their party is going. Everything from helping the environment, gun control, and comprehensive immigration reform are wrapped up neatly. The voter supports them and leaves the polling place feeling good their party is taking such important action.
Factions, and their inherent dangers, were something the framers of the Supreme Law were very aware of. James Madison laid out the advantages of a large republic over a democracy or small republic in Federalist 10, “The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection (continued).” History was filled with lessons on factional destruction and American Federalism was designed to help protect citizens from repeating history. It is simply human nature to form parties, aligning with others who share special interests. Democratic leaders no longer urge citizens to ask what they can do for the country but embrace the opposite, what can the country do for you? Republicans love to call upon the words of Ronald Reagan but have done nothing to restore constitutional order, quite the opposite is true.
Political players have invested many decades in changing the way we govern, including the lobbying industry dominating government at all levels. What we see on ballots today are not the results of a single presidency transforming our society. Both of our major factions have worked for over a century to silence the law and alter our way of governing while effectively controlling the ability of other factions or individuals from getting their voices heard. By setting themselves up as the two major parties, and then inserting their party leadership inside our legislative houses, control over the law was established. The ballot propositions and referendums may make some feel good but they clearly show how far we have wandered from original intent. Governing under a democracy dominated by factions is every bit as dangerous as James Madison wrote about in 1787.