No wonder so many Texans have a negative opinion of government. As the old saying goes, you only get what you put in, and Texans don’t put in a lot.
In a recent national study, The Daily Texan Online reports that the Lone Star State came in dead last for civic engagement… citizens participating and engaging with government, which includes voter turnout. Here’s more from the findings…
Everything is bigger in Texas — except voter turnout.
In conjunction with the National Conference on Citizenship, UT’s Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life released the Texas Civic Health Index that ranked Texas amongst the lowest states in civic engagement on Tuesday. According to the institute, Texas has a voter turnout of 36 percent — the worst in the country.
Annette Strauss Director and journalism professor Regina Lawrence said the goal of the study is to make Texas residents aware of where they stand in volunteering, contacting their representatives and voting.
“The goal was to provide the first comprehensive report measuring civic engagement using current US Census data,” Lawrence said.
Citizenship, income, education, age, race and ethnicity all have an effect on each resident’s level of civic engagement, the report said. Residents with higher education usually fair better in each category but education senior Rina Patel said she believes the low numbers in Texas stem from a disconnect between the public and elected officials.
That disconnect was evidenced clearly from the 83rd Legislative Session, which can only be classified as nearing one of Dante’s circles of hell. And yes, the 82nd session would be an actual circle. But this is what government looks like when an elite oligarchy of voters make the decisions for everyone. So many Texas voices are not being represented in state government today. And even when they literally storm the place, like what occurred during vigorous protests of the omnibus Anti-Women’s health bills, those Texas voices are shut out by being forced to leave the room, physically. But many more Texans are shut out by aggressive gerrymandering of representative districts. As a result, most Texans are so discouraged by bad government, they become disengaged to any possibility that it could be better.
Soon, Texans will recognize that government is a powerful tool that can help people. Unlike some far-off corporation, Texans are the shareholders in our government. We pay for our roads and bridges, we pay for our schools, our parks, our sidewalks. And as shareholders in government, we also have a say in how the money is spent, who controls it, and how it progresses. If we don’t like it, we vote our leaders out, and the results change. Government is much more than just waste and excess. Government is us.
Texans have to vote for politicians that understand the reality of the situation. We need government leaders that are willing to stand for everyone in the state, and not just a privileged few. Rick Perry’s recent veto of the equal pay bill, after it passed the legislature with bi-partisan support? That’s a pure example of what bad government gets you… politicians that don’t listen to their constituents, and don’t care. I’m glad to live in this state at a time when people are starting to catch on to how ridiculous some of our leaders are, and I look forward to seeing Texas become more engaged, more informed, and more BLUE.