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Our Democracy

 

Texas, with Clardy’s help, has created more hurdles people must jump in order to vote even though the voter turnout is far less than half of the eligible voters. We don’t have a problem of too many people voting, we have a problem of not enough eligible people voting. The voter identification law is still being legally disputed and has cost the state millions of dollars in legal fees – all to try to justify the GOP’s discriminatory efforts to recreate barriers to the ballot box.

When I’m elected, I will, I would take immediate steps to repeal HB40 and SB4. Both pieces of legislation are assaults on our inalienable right to local self-governance and on our Civil Rights.

 

Gerrymandering

Congressional District 1 was gerrymandered in 2004 to ensure that Louie Gohmert couldn’t lose an election. The Cook Political Report rates Congressional Districts across the county and Texas CD-1 is rated as R+25. This means that any Republican candidate has a 25% lead over any Democrat. It explains why Gohmert won in 2010 with 89.7% of the vote. While this might look like outright victory, to me it’s evidence of outright theft. And this gerrymandering sleight-of-hand influences elections within CD-1, including over 80,000 souls living in District 11.

Ironically, gerrymandering does a disservice to the voters in the majority party as well. In gerrymandered districts, candidates are rarely seriously challenged for their actions – and if so, only in the most extreme partisan way – pushing elected officials further to the extremes of their party since they are answerable only in a primary situation.

Gerrymandering also creates voter apathy and as a result suppresses turnout. Too many people think “why vote” when the winner was already chosen in Austin.

 

Plutocracy

In 2014 researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page published an important study about the state of our democracy which concluded:

In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule . . . When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

[ . . . ] our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features

central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

 

The Solution: A Second American Revolution 

Not only are large majorities of Americans effectively silenced at the national level, at the local level people find they are all but powerless second class citizens, largely unable to defend themselves from exploitation by determined corporations. As  CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) points out:

Communities facing fracking, pipelines, factory farms, and other threats are recognizing that these seemingly “single” issue threats share something in common – the community doesn’t have the legal authority to say “No” to them. The existing structure of law ensures that people cannot govern their own communities and act as stewards of the environment while protecting corporate “rights” and interests over those of communities and nature.

This is a complex issue that doesn’t lend itself to sound-bite solutions. What’s required is something akin to a Second American Revolution. In fact, there’s been a movie made about it,We The People 2.0. – The Second American Revolution” (WTP), which we encourage everyone to watch.

This Revolution begins at the community level and grows from there. It involves increasing people’s understanding about the “box of allowable activism” and how we can work together to reassert our inalienable right to self-government and rid ourselves and our communities from this trap.

Organizations like CELDF provide literature and offer programs that help communities reassert their rights. This campaign is keen to help begin and participate in these important conversations throughout the District. If you’re interested in organizing a screening of WTP and would like our campaign to help, please contact us.

Therefore, Let It Be Resolved…

 

In order to restore effective local democracy, we need to have our inalienable right to self-governance written into our State Constitution. To that end, this campaign has introduced a Resolution, which was approved by the Nacogdoches County Democratic Party on March 24, 2018, and will be submitted to the Democratic Party State Convention in June. The text of that resolution appears below:

A Resolution in support of restoring our inalienable right to local self-governance in pursuit of our sustainable future.

 

WHEREAS the political, legal, and economic systems of the United States allow an elite few to impose policy and governing decisions that threaten the very survival of human and natural communities;

AND WHEREAS the goal of those decisions is to concentrate wealth and greater governing power through the exploitation of human and natural communities, while promoting the belief that such exploitation is necessary for the common good;

AND WHEREAS the survival of our communities depend on replacing this system of governance by the privileged with new community-based democratic decision-making systems;

AND WHEREAS environmental and economic sustainability can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones making them;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT we, the people, have the right to establish new frameworks of law that dismantle the existing undemocratic systems while codifying new, sustainable systems;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we demand the following amendment to the Texas State Constitution shall be made:

Right to Local Self-Government

As all political power is vested in and derived from the people, and as all government or right originates from the people, the people have an inherent and inalienable right to local self-government, in each county, city, town and other municipality.

That right shall include, without limitation:

 

  • The power to enact local laws protecting health, safety, and welfare by establishing the fundamental rights of individuals, their communities, and nature, and by securing those rights using prohibitions and other means; and
  • The power to enact local laws establishing, defining, altering, or eliminating the rights, powers, and duties of corporations and other business entities operating or seeking to operate in the community, to prevent such rights and powers from interfering with such locally-enacted fundamental rights of individuals, their communities, and nature.

Local laws adopted pursuant to subsection (2) of this section shall not be subject to preemption by international, federal, or state laws, nor shall they be subject to limitation; provided that:

  • Such local laws shall not restrict fundamental rights of individuals, their communities, or nature secured by the Texas constitution, the United States Constitution, or international law and
  • Such local laws shall not weaken protections for individuals, their communities, or nature provided by state, federal, or international law.

All provisions of this section are self-executing and severable.

End of Resolution

 

Until we address the problem in our Democracy, solving our other problems will be difficult to impossible. This is why this will remain a paramount focus for this campaign.

 

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Paid For by Alec Johnson for Texas House District 11

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