We have our own issues of bad governance in Austin. However, most of what is happening in our Capitol has flourished because of our continued membership in the United States.
Most Texans aren’t aware that the vast majority of legislative wrangling in Texas government takes place over issues that are not of our making. In this recent session, nearly half of all bills filed directly referenced federal law, federal regulations, federal agencies, or federal court rulings. That doesn’t include bills that were filed in response to those where they weren’t directly referenced but were filed to place Texas in compliance with one or more of those.
We can’t even begin to count the bills that were filed solely to capture federal money. You know, the federal money that first came out of your pocket and then, after a 40% “membership fee” has been deducted, is dangled in front of the Texas Legislature as a reward for their loyalty.
Then you get into the areas of education, transportation, and social services which, to some degree, have their policy directions set in relation to or because of federal law or mandate.
Being outside of the United States means that we could set our own direction and create policies that are a perfect fit for us. If a policy doesn’t work, we can scrap it and create a new one. It would be our decision and our decision alone.
Lest we forget, many in Texas government treat elected office like tryouts for the Federal Government. Granted, some get in and get comfortable. But others are like contestants on American Idol. They hope that they are good enough to get to the next round.
Oftentimes the policy decisions and the direction of the debate are dictated by how much of an audience they will get outside of Texas. They jockey just to get an interview on FoxNews or MSNBC, because deep in their heart-of-hearts, they want their 15 minutes of fame in a larger market. Being known in a larger market means that they can run for the US House or Senate or even President or jockey for a cabinet position in the White House.
In fact, our Lieutenant Governor missed the opening day of this legislative session because he’d been summoned to the White House to help with a speech. Effectively, the person holding the most powerful elected position in Texas chose to do the job of a federal staffer over executing his duty to Texans. This doesn’t seem like something a person elected to serve the people of Texas would do. Rather, it looks like someone angling for a job on the federal level.
Standing as an independent nation, Texas is as good as it gets for these politicians. There are no tryouts for elected positions beyond Texas. They make it good here or they get thrown out. While they are here, and in office, they had better do the best job that they can because there is no one else to satisfy but the people of Texas.
Ask anyone on the street right now this question.
“What do you think about what Congress is doing right now?”
The answer will generally lean toward disapproval followed by something about healthcare or taxes. At a very minimum it will include something very specific. They may namedrop some distasteful federal politician. Perhaps you’ll even get the name of their Congressman and one or both of our Senators. The point is that even the least political have some idea of what’s happening on the federal level.
Now ask the same person this question.
“What do you think about the property tax reform being debated in the Texas Legislature right now?”
You are likely to get a blank stare, a quizzical look, or be met with another question.
“What do you mean?”
Texans are distracted. We are inundated with news out of Washington, D.C. through every conceivable medium. We are conditioned to direct our attention and, consequently, our outrage toward the Potomac. Even the most politically active among Texans find themselves in this trap. Since we have finite time, resources, and attention spans, while Texans focus on the ills of the Federal Government, state and local government runs wild.
Those of you who stay engaged on state and local issues know the result of this. Low engagement by your fellow citizens gives the elected officials a trapdoor for bad behavior. They can simply brush off your issue because they “haven’t heard from many of my constituents.”
This distraction plays out at the polls as well. With everyone focused on the federal government, even to the point of listing federal offices at the top of the ballot, little to no attention is paid to the down ballot races. In addition, general dissatisfaction with the federal government leads to disillusioned voters who simply give up and don’t vote.
With Texas out of the union, Texans remove one additional layer of government and the distraction it brings, and are left with the government that is closest to home – the one in Austin and the one in their own backyard. Imagine if folks paid attention to those governments like they are glued to the the D.C. drama. Imagine how people would feel about voting if they actually could make a difference and be involved.
Then we get to the simplest issue of all. Politics runs on money. You can hate it. You can deny it. However, it’s the way things work.
As part of the United States, political contributions that flow into Texas are treated just the same as contributions from me and you. When Joe Crony gets into office, the coffers open up and money flows in from political action committees all over the United States. Every special interest from the other 49 states starts writing checks to curry favor and keep “their man” in office.
These contributions from outside of Texas give a decided advantage to incumbents and a major disadvantage to those that would challenge the political establishment.
When Texit happens, that comes to a screeching halt because they are now foreign and Texas does not and never will allow political contributions from foreign entities. Post-Texit, egregious politicians won’t be able to stump for contributions in California or New York. We get a more level playing field and more opportunity for turnover in the Texas government.
Again, while we sympathize with the concerns of our fellow Texans about the state of governance in Austin, there is no doubt that removing the federal government out of the equation produces better government at home. Independence gives us an opportunity to create a government in our image, that is responsive to our needs, meets our challenges, and is the size that we want. Independence gives us a shot a self-government that we have never had and puts our destiny in our hands and our hands alone.