Pockets of democracy

Despite the best efforts of political elites in the state, pockets of democracy still exist in the state of Texas. A very nice interactive feature on the Texas Tribune website (Interactive Map: The 2012 General Election Races) illustrates how hard it is to find competitive races in Texas.

Map of competitive House districts in Texas

You can look over the map or list of races for the U.S. House, Texas House, or Texas Senate.

The situation is the worst in the Texas House where 98 out of 150 districts have only one candidate from a major party (and many of these districts do not even have a Libertarian or Green Party candidate in the race). The problem is not just the weakness of the Democratic party in Texas because while there are 64 races without a Democratic candidate there are another 34 races where there is no Republican candidate.

I don’t discount the competition within the parties but the low turnout in our party primaries tell me that those contests are not doing a good job representing the citizens of the state.

I’m amazed that we have constructed a political system where the party that dominates statewide elections can not even field a candidate in 22% of the House races. I’m disappointed that our political leaders treat this as normal.

Some of the problem originates with citizens. A recent study by the Pew Center (“The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income“) demonstrates are increasingly living in economically segregated communities making it less and less likely that we’ll come face-to-face with the real lives of others. We compound this by letting social pressures and the desire to fit in lead us away from asking the tough questions that might lead us to change our minds and disagree with the people around us.

The fact that citizens make it easier is no excuse and the sorry state of democracy in Texas is an indictment of the political leaders of the state. Voters in two-thirds of the state’s House districts will not have a viable alternative in 2012 and we can only hope that more competition will be encouraged in the future.

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