Change in the Political Climate of Texas
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In the youth of Texas, the Democratic Party enjoyed electoral dominance on all levels of state government and in the representation in the national government. Democratic rule was dominated by a conservative white political elite that strongly promoted economic development, but that resisted change either in race relations or social programs for the poor ("Texas Politics," 2009). Republicans were not completely absent during this period, but their electoral victories were few and limited in scope ("Texas Politics," 2009). In every election after 1980, however, the Republican strength grew into the now dominant rule that currently reigns in Texas. Since the 1990’s, the Republican Party, despite the attempts of others, has had a stronghold on the state government. With that being said, the Republican Party has dominated the overall elections.
Every citizen, as incumbent citizens within the State of Texas, has certain responsibilities and undertakings to consider. Included in such considerations are the roles we are slated with when selecting an elected official for our Congressional District. This Congressional District representative is a person elected by “the people”, such as those in a city or county, in hopes that they will have a voice to represent the decisions designed to impact their areas, respectfully. One such Congressional District representative is Lamar Seeligson Smith.
Lamar S. Smith, a Republican, represents the 21st Congressional District in the state of Texas. In summary, the 21st Congressional District includes portions of Bexar and Travis Counties and all of Comal, Real, Kerr, Bandera, Kendall and Blanco Counties. Over 650,000 people live in the 21st Congressional District and Smith has been serving as a state representative here since November, 1986.
Smith was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and has spent a large part of his life living, and now representing, the city and surrounding areas. He graduated from T.M.I.: The Episcopal School of Texas, Yale University, a private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, and Southern Methodist University Law School, located in Dallas, Texas ("Representative Lamar S.,"). He briefly practiced law as an attorney before entering politics ("Representative Lamar S.
,"). Before obtaining his current seat in office, Smith served as a commissioner for Bexar County, Texas from 1982 to 1985 ("Lamar Smith,").
As a social conservative, Smith has advocated ways to reduce illegal immigration and has opposed proposals by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to offer legal status to some categories of immigrants who have entered the country illegally ("Lamar Smith,"). Moreover, Smith has, or is currently serving, on the House Committee on Homeland Security, House Committee on Science and Technology, and House Committee on the Judiciary.
Smith receives exceptional reviews from Interest Groups within the fields of Budget, Spending & Taxes; Family & Children Issues, Gun Issues; Immigration; and Technology & Communication. However, he equally receives negative feedback from Interest Groups within the fields of Civil Liberties & Civil Rights; Education; Foreign Aid & Policy Issues; Social Issues; and Women’s Issues.
In regards to the Americans for Democratic Action and American Civil Liberties Union, Smith received extremely low ratings from those Interest Groups, whereas the American Conservative Union and Christian Coalition have given Smith extraordinarily high ratings. ‘Table 1’ below shows the rating trend for Smith in the past 9 years.
Group 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Average
ADA 5 0 0 5 0 0 0 15 15 4%
ACLU 14 0 7 0 0 5 5 0 20 6%
ACU 96 96 96 88 92 96 84 88 88 92%
CC 94 93 100 92 94 94 90 90 90 93%
Table 1: Lamar S. Smith
Given his support for the economy (support of capitalism and free enterprise), his lack of support towards internationalism (National Sovereignty), and his stress on limiting equality, it is easy to argue that Smith is a dominant social conservative.
In addition to designating the Congressional District, the people of Texas also must consider the roles when selecting an elected official for the Senate. This Senator operates in the “upper house” of the United States Congress, whereas the “lower house” is being maintained by the Congressional District. The Senate has several exclusive powers not granted to the House, including consenting to treaties as a precondition to their ratification and consenting or confirmation of appointments of Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, other federal executive officials, military officers and other federal uniformed officers, as well as the impeachment trials of federal officials ("United States Senate,"). Each U.S. state is represented by two senators, regardless of population. This ensures equal representation of each state in the Senate ("United States Senate,"). There are “junior” and “senior” Senators in office. In the State of Texas, the senior United States Senator from Texas is Kathryn Ann "Kay" Bailey Hutchison.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, assumed office for the United States Senate for the State of Texas in June, 1993. Prior to her current title, she was the Texas State Treasurer, and a member of the House of Representatives, serving a Congressional District in Houston.
Kay Bailey was born and raised in Galveston, Texas and has spent the later part of her life living in Houston and Dallas. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1962, where she was a cheerleader and a sister of Pi Beta Phi sorority member ("Senator Kay B.,"). Afterwards, she received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1967 ("Senator Kay B.,").
Hutchison has advocated many controversial positions, such as the legality of abortion, the supporting of single-sex education in public schools, and supporting oil leasing in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Most recently, Senator Hutchison has proposed limiting Texas governors to two four-year terms (“Senator Kay B.,"). Although a loyal Conservative Republican, she has been known to cross over to the other side on a few issues. Furthermore, Hutchison serves on the following Senate committees: Appropriations; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Rules and Administration; and Veterans' Affairs ("Senator Kay B.,").
Hutchison receives exceptional reviews from Interest Groups within the fields of Agriculture; Family & Children Issues; Gun Issues; Immigration; and Technology & Communication. However, she equally receives negative feedback from Interest Groups within the fields of Civil Liberties & Civil Rights; Education; Foreign Aid & Policy Issues; Welfare & Poverty; and Women’s Issues.
In regards to the Americans for Democratic Action and American Civil Liberties Union, Hutchison received extremely low ratings from those Interest Groups, whereas the American Conservative Union and Christian Coalition have given Hutchison extraordinarily high ratings. ‘Table 2’ below shows the rating trend for Hutchison in the past 9 years.
Group 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Average
ADA 0 10 5 10 25 15 5 20 20 12%
ACLU 29 25 25 22 22 17 17 14 14 21%
ACU 96 96 100 75 84 92 84 88 76 88%
CC 92 100 100 100 100 89 89 90 90 94%
Table 2: Kay Bailey Hutchison
Similar to Smith, Hutchison supports for the economy (support of capitalism and free enterprise), does not hold any support towards internationalism (National Sovereignty), and stresses on limiting equality. As with Smith, it is easy to argue that Hutchison is also a dominant social conservative.
For the most part, the entire State of Texas is leaning to the Republican end of the spectrum. Recently, Kay Bailey Hutchison has announced that she will be running for Governor in 2010, against the current Republican governor, Rick Perry.
If, and possibly “when”, this changeover takes effect, the colors in Texas will be running predominantly red over the skies.
Overall, the political climate has changed from the Democratic views over to the Republican side of the field. Despite numerous conflicts and struggles, the Republican Party displays a remarkable continuity in the State of Texas. The dominant political view of social conservatism has proven quite resilient over the past few decades. This ideological is expressed in a dominant flow of low government services, pro-business policies, and fighting to keep the doors closed to internationalism.