By Charlie Stenholm
As we enter the new year, Congressional approval ratings by party remain at historically low levels. Democrats at 13% and Republicans at 28% according to the current Gallup Poll.
To quote the great Philosopher Yogi Berra “slump, I ain’t in no slump, I just ain’t hitting”. Congress just ain’t hitting and unfortunately the same can now be said about our Texas Legislature and for the same reasons.
We are a divided Nation. But that is nothing new. In fact it has always been an enviable strength. It was estimated that at least 30% of the eligible voters in 1787, when the Constitution was ratified, were opposed to the very creation of the United States of America. But thankfully we had strong leaders who were willing to compromise on their own strongly held beliefs for the greater good. Today compromise means an opponent in your next primary. And minimum action for the greater good of our Country.
Again borrowing heavily from the wisdom of Yogi, “I tell the kids somebody’s gotta win, and somebody’s gotta lose, just don’t fight about it, just try to get better”. It is hard to get better politically and legislatively in Texas when most of our races in 2018 will most likely be decided again in the primaries. That means the 28% and 13% will continue to prevail and the 59% who do worry about our Nations debt, struggling education and healthcare systems, disappearance of middle America, and collapsing infrastructure systems will just have to wait another 2 years for a solution. The next Congress will be no better than the current one. Adverse to work(144 days in session) 124 scheduled for 2018, more time spent while in session raising obscene amounts of money for the next election, and absolutely keeping their base (28% and 13%) happy because that’s who will vote for them in March.
Fortunately for all Texas voters in 2018 there is a constructive place to begin. And with at least 8 new members from Texas this year now is the time. Let’s make this a simple political issue for every candidate. And every one of us can get involved very easily and very positively. I suggest a bill to be offered in the first days of the legislative session beginning January 2019 that creates a Non-Partisan Commission on Redistricting, patterned after the States of Iowa and Arizona that will take effect in the 2020 elections and beyond.
The non-partisan Commission will attempt to follow the following criteria.
1. That they are in compliance with the Constitution of the United
States and the voting rights act
2. That they are roughly equal in population
3. That they appear compact and contiguous
4. Communities of interest are respected
5. And that they incorporate visible geographic features, town, city,
and county boundaries and undivided census tracts.
6. And they are electorally competitive so long as the
aforementioned criteria are satisfied.
Specifically the Commission must start from scratch and cannot consider the residence of incumbents, candidates,
or party voting patterns.
For all voters the question to ask those who ask for our vote for State Represenative or Senator is, will you co-sponsor, and vote for such a bill. If not why not? To those who want to be our representative’s in Congress will you support that legislation in the Legislature. If not why not? Same question for those who are running for all Statewide offices.
Many of those who drafted the Constitution of the United States of America warned against political parties or as they called them factions. But it was inevitable that like minded people would join together to influence “their”government to do what “they” wanted under the government formed by that same Constitution.
Our current 2 party system has imploded. The Constitution did not anticipate technology that would allow reapportionment every 10 years, or sooner, to draw boundary lines to protect incumbents and parties in power so creatively. Our Country and the State of Texas would be much better served if the best ideas of our two parties would be articulated by their best candidates in November, not in March. Competition in a true marketplace has and will always serve America best.
That marvelous document called the Constitution was carefully constructed to keep the power of government in the people’s hands as much as possible. Abolishing gerrymandering is the best place to start returning power to the people. To ALL of those who want to go to Austin to work for the people, support the bill or explain why you won’t. This is one issue that could have a positive effect on this years Texas primaries as well as general election, and more importantly the substance and quality of debate of the 115th Congress and 86th Legislature.