I have always held a theory that when people in public office get too comfortable in office and continue to talk they sometimes, to their detriment, tell the truth about how they feel about things. Recently, at a Republican debate between contestants for the lieutenant governorship, two of the candidates let the cat out of the bag providing further evidence that right-wing conservatives do not trust the people. Dan Patrick, a right-wing radio host, is among four candidates running for lieutenant governor. The debate centered mostly around who could prove that he was the most conservative candidate in the race.
To offer convincing proof, both Dan Patrick and current Lt. Governor David Dewhurst allowed as how they would prefer to repeal the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution. For those of you who do not carry a Constitution around in your vest pocket, the 17th Amendment granted the right of citizens to directly elect their United States senator from their various states. Both Patrick and Dewhurst proclaimed it would be much preferable to allow a state legislature to select the U.S. Senators from Texas, taking that right away from everyday, ordinary citizens.
This sort of attitude among those who consider themselves elite leaders of the people is nothing new. In the many squabbles over forming our United States government, there were several who advocated that no one should be able to participate in the selection of our leaders unless they possessed a certain level of wealth. At the very least, it was proposed, those doing the selecting should have been property owners. It doesn’t surprise me, therefore, for a ultra-conservative state senator and the Republican lieutenant governor to now advocate that a body they are now a member of should be entrusted with the election of our United States senator rather than the people. This is not the only evidence that some members of our Texas Legislature do not trust the people.
One needs to look no further than to the great efforts of our state legislature--led by our governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general--to in effect close the door to access to jury trials. The whole theory of tort reform, which has been embraced wholeheartedly by the conservative wing of the Republican Party, is based on lack of trust of jurors. One only needs to think about this for about thirty seconds to see what a screwy system this has created. Believing as they do in "tort reform" and statutory limits on what can be recovered by an injured party in our court system simply says that Republicans think 150 politicians in the House and 31 in the Texas Senate have a better handle on how to bring justice to a litigant rather than 12 citizens seated in a jury box who hear the evidence. Republican courts, including our state supreme court, are in lock-step with that thought. A recent survey of the appeal of jury verdicts reaching the Texas Supreme Court demonstrated that of approximately 23 jury verdicts appealed to the Supreme Court, 19 of them had been reversed in favor of the insurance carriers.
Turning the selection of our United States senator over to the Legislature is not the only thing this right-wing state government we now endure has done to lessen the effect of ordinary citizens having a say in government. Voter identification is another example of the right-wing’s mistrust of ordinary, hard-working citizens making a selection at the ballot box. Voter identification has been based on the premise there is a great deal of voter fraud which must be stamped out in Texas. Fewer than a half dozen cases of voter fraud involving voter misrepresentation on identity have been located--out of about ten million votes cast.
Another clear indication of the right wing’s Fascist like attitude of having us governed by the wealthy elite is the constant attack on the people’s choice for president of the United States. What happened to the good old days when, once an election was decided, there was a spirit of patriotism and pride in America which dictated we all pull together behind our leader in an attempt to make him the most powerful leader in the world. Contrary to that longstanding tradition, the current right-wing opposition to President Obama has declared as their number one goal to make him fail as a president. Obviously, they didn’t believe the rest of us had sense enough to make a decent selection of our president. And now they want to deprive us of the right to select our United States senator!