As you may remember from a High School civics class, the people of the United States do not directly elect our President – we do so indirectly via the Electoral College. This system radically diminishes the national political power and voice of Texans in both its current structural and practiced form. This system has a severe detrimental effect on Texan’s abilities to decide what is best for our state, on issues such as Border Security and many, many more.
A bit of an overview:
Our state and future nation of Texas is currently assigned 38 Electors for which we are really voting for on November 8th, and this number is determined by the total number of Federal Senators (2) and Congressmen (36) that we have, which in turn is determined by apportionment of total population as determined by the once-every-ten-year Census.
For several decades now, the total number of Electors has been fixed at 538, representing 435 Congressmen, 100 Senators, and 3 additional Electors for the District of Columbia. Because of the now fixed number, at every ten-year Census, when State populations change due to immigration, internal migration, or other population growth or decline, some States will increase their number of Electors at the expense of other States – for example, while Texas gained 4 Electors after the 2010 Census, both Ohio and New York lost 2 each.
If you’ve ever lived in a “swing state” – states which either historically or recently may tilt between Republican and Democrat, like Florida, Ohio, etc, you’ll be intimately familiar with the near-constant barrage of Presidential-related political advertising that occurs every four years. Ads on TV, radio, internet, newspapers, billboards, people knocking on your door and even offering a ride to the polls on election day. Billions are spent every cycle on influencing people’s votes in swing states.
And you’ll notice, in comparison, an almost a total absence of such gratuitous spending by the campaigns in “safe states” such as California or Texas, which, beyond merely raising candidate awareness to attract donations, are at or near the bottom of the attention list – Texas’s 38 and California’s 55 (and indeed, the majority of states) Electoral votes are considered already won by the Republicans and Democrats, so they tend to focus on winning Electors in States that are “easier” to sway, like the swing states. Quite simply, Texan’s current loyalty to the GOP is taken for granted, and the issues we’re concerned with here and our opinions of them get very little attention nationally, but still, of course, affect us greatly.
Of course, instead of Texas’s current policy of giving all 38 Electors to whoever wins the state, we could divide up assignment of Electors according to the popular vote total, as some (small) states currently do in various forms, effectively dividing out the electors between the parties. While this would likely make Texas slightly more popular to visit or spend money on in the hopes of picking up a few more Electoral votes by either major party, there is no doubt that without similar moves by other large “safe states” such as California and New York, this would lead to an overall advantage gain for Democrats in Presidential elections – something the GOP-dominated Texas legislature is obviously loathe to contribute to, fairly or not.
As a result of this winner-takes-all-the-electors situation, the issues that are of great concern to the swing states get oversized attention from the national candidates – for example, the United States relationship with Cuba, in large part because of the concentration and political activism of the Cuban population in Miami in the swing state of Florida, or biofuels such as heavily federally subsidized corn-based ethanol gasoline additives (which increase demand for corn) get so much consideration, because of Iowa’s influence both as a swing state, and as a an early caucus state.
So, we all get to hear a lot about Ohio and Michigan’s great industrial decline (but not Illinois or Indiana’s, both safe states) or long-dead industries such as Steel in Pennsylvania (but not new ones affecting Silicon Valley, California is safely Democratic) and what “we”, collectively, need to do about those issues for those people.
In contrast, issues that affect and/or are of great concern to everyday Texans, such as Oil & Gas regulation, Federal land-use policies, border security, immigration, and ID requirements to vote, all either get short thrift, or are merely dictated to Texans by people in states which face no consequences for the policy decisions they make for us. The President, for all of the limitations the constitution tries to attach, is an increasingly powerful position, who enjoys the ability to appoint (increasingly activist) Supreme Court justices, and sway policy through the increasingly powerful and well-funded Executive branch.
Consider for example, Border Security & Immigration, of which the State of Texas has very little control over – all policies and law are Federal – Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, etc, are all federally controlled, and that power ends at the President. Our local and state police can’t even arrest people on the basis of immigration status.
Of the suspected 11 million or so illegal aliens in the US, 1.5 million of them are in Texas, and twice as many in California, making our states #1 and #2 in total illegal alien population – There’s more illegal aliens in just Texas than virtually all of the “swing states” combined. Yet we have virtually no say on this issue as Texans; no ability to help, hinder, or anything – merely bystanders.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Texans necessarily find this current state distressing or requiring radical change – indeed almost 60% of Texans oppose Trump’s version of a border wall according to this year’s Lyceum poll, while in the same poll, continue to favor Trump over Clinton by a substantial margin – and this despite the fact that ‘Immigration’ was noted as the most-pressing concern for Texans by far. Clearly Texans have some nuanced opinions on Border Security that go beyond party-line partisanship.
Perhaps it’s because Texas and Texans have had a long history with Mexico, one of both extensive trade, tight economic ties, strong cultural influences, a thousand-mile border, and living side-by-side since our very inception. It’s unfathomable for the majority of Texans to not know any Spanish, or to not have strong opinions on what makes a great taco.
What is distressing though, to all Texans regardless of party affiliation, is that on this issue of great concern and great importance to us Texans, we have virtually zero ability to control the outcome of any policy change. People in Ohio and Iowa get to determine if Trump’s wall gets built, whether or not illegal aliens are given a path to citizenship or deported, and the future of our relationship with Mexico, which is *our* neighbor, not theirs. Mexico is by far both Texas’s largest export market by far, and largest import market – it’s a bit more important to us than them.
But, because Texas is “in the bag” for the GOP and Trump, he doesn’t have to consider the differences between Mexican immigration and immigration from Central America that simply comes through Mexico. He doesn’t have to consider the positives or negatives that his version of a wall will have on Texans, like the land of Texan’s that will have to be ceased in order to expand it, or the businesses that can be affected by making the border more difficult to cross legally.
Trump and Clinton will be elected partially by being for or against Trump’s version of a wall by people in states such as Ohio that perhaps don’t fully appreciate the fact that the Texas-Mexico border is already walled, tightly controlled, separated by the mighty Rio Grande river, and that millions of Mexican citizens come across the border everyday, not to try to ‘sneak in’, but to spend *billions* of dollars shopping in El Paso, McAllen, and Laredo every year – more than we spend in Mexico. At the same time, they also don’t understand the impact of drug smuggling, crime, and the dangerous gangs that control it.
This is of course but one issue out of dozens where the clear will and rights of the people in Texas is outright ignored, overridden, and often times, simply made fun of by the rest of the United States. A stronger appreciation of the 10th amendment would certainly be welcome, but that will be graciously given or foolishly taken away regardless of our needs, and on Border Security and Immigration, it just doesn’t apply anyway.
Don’t we in Texas understand our border, our relationship with Mexico, how it affects our economy, our culture, and our daily lives better than people thousands of miles away?
Under our current system of federal representation and law, our voice, our nuance, our understanding, and our ability to do much of anything on this very important issue is severely muted, misinterpreted, and often times, outright ignored.
Policy on the ground here in Texas will continue to be swayed and ultimately controlled by voters in other states that don’t even understand the difference between a corn or flour tortilla, or what a Tejano is – let alone our actual border security problems and opportunities.
It’s time for Texans to re-assert our right to representation and to control our own destiny, and our own border. The only way to do that is to vote for #Texit.