Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hell in a Handbasket

Outside of Stephen F. Austin and the Old 300, Texas was originally settled mostly by belligerent people who showed up looking for a reason to tell a government to go to Hell. Given a little time and some help from God and Sam Houston, they eventually did so at San Jacinto. Texas Government up until then could best be described as quarrelsome. The politicians spent much of their time drunk or fighting duels with one another that. Other than Stephen F. Austin, who truly did what was in the best interest of Texas, they didn't get much done at all. It was a golden age for government, and a model all others should follow. After San Jacinto, the story of the politics in the Republic of Texas could be summed up as "Sam served his term as president, cut spending and the deficit. Then somebody else served, spending and deficit rose with ambitious government programs. Sam was again eligible for president, the process was repeated."

Texas entered the union on December 29, 1845. The agreement stipulated that the feds would protect Texas' border, and that if the partnership proved unsatisfactory, Texas could secede. Washington sent infantry troops to protect Texas' vast frontier from the most effective horseback raiders this side of outer Mongolia, the Comanches. That tactic worked about as well as you'd expect. The folks in D.C. also refused to acknowledge the ongoing banditry along the Rio Grande. To maintain any security, it was necessary to keep the Rangers patrolling on horseback, usually against the wishes of the federal government, who felt that a state controlled military force was a threat. Because of this and other factors, including the legacy of a belligerent people looking for a reason to tell a government to go to Hell, Texas exercised her right to secede. Many Texans were against succession, but once the die was cast, they stood by Texas. James Throckmorton was among the most notable of these.

I think we remember how that turned out.

Afterwards, Texans elected Throckmorton as governor. He went forward with attempts to rebuild his state. Due to a desire to punish the rebels, General Charles Griffin persuaded Phil Sheridan to replace Throckmorton with E. M. Pease. In a tough situation, Pease managed to make everybody mad, and resigned. We wound up with Edmund Davis, who abused his powers by institutionalizing his opponents, denying First Amendment rights to newspapers who reported what he disliked, and denying the vote to those he disliked. He's also known for raising property taxes to unheard of levels, and spending the public funds as if there were no tomorrow. He was empowered to do this by the occupying federal troops. Even though Texas had been largely untouched by the war, Pease managed to drag reconstruction out long after it was necessary, and even called on federal aid to keep him in office after he lost re-election.

All of these things lead to the State Constitution of 1876. It's one of the longest state constitutions, and the document's main theme is to LIMIT GOVERNMENT POWER. It's the reason our legislature meets every other year. It's why our governor's powers are limited. It's what prohibits statewide property taxes.

And so, in memory of all the trials and tribulations that our forefathers went through, last night, WE VOTED IN FAVOR OF ALL ELEVEN AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION. WHO THE HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE THAT ARE VOTING IN MY STATE? A couple of the amendments were good things. Some weren't.

I'm not sure why I've said all this, except, maybe, so that my point will be understood when I say this, to all Texas voters who have moved here from failing states.

There's a reason that California, New York, and Illinois are failing. There's a reason you've left those places. It all started at the ballot box. If you want to be governed the way you were back home, may I suggest that you move back? Don't make the same mistakes here.

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