The Modern Jim Crow / Downfall of American Democracy

Posted on: June 4, 2012

It is my belief that for some time now, the American version of a democratic republic has been on a steady decline. Over the last several decades we have sat idly by and watched as voter turnouts hit all-time lows, which prompts the question: “Is a government really run by the people and for the people if the people are not voting?” My libertarian-based view says “No.”

Low voter turnout combined with corporate personhood and new laws-to-be will only aid in the demise of the government myself and many others have fought to keep alive.

In recent years there has been a lot of debate about new voter ID laws. Luckily, most states have not turned to this system of voting and have successfully evaded modern “Jim Crow” laws. But I live in a state that has a long history of interfering with ballots and embracing discriminatory laws to prohibit people from voting the way they desire. It has long been a Texas tradition to institute poll taxes and literacy tests, to check for property ownership and attempts to allow only whites or the majority state party constituents to vote. I tend to be the type of citizen and activist who embraces the US Constitution in its entirety. I support our government operating within its means and definitely within its guidelines and nowhere in any article, clause, subsection or the amendments are voter ID laws authorized. In fact, nowhere in any piece of legislation are you even required to have a social security number unless you were illegally signed on to the social security system when you were born (see Straw Man Laws) or an identification card of any type which leads me to believe that voter ID laws would only target the one part of society that honestly needs to have its voice heard: our poor and minority groups which have historically always voted liberal.

Another issue we’ve been seeing in the Texas legislature from elected state representatives such as Royce West, Debbie Riddle, Rep. Elkins, Rep Hancock, Joe Crabb, Rep. Hamilton (who voted 5 times on the HPV Vaccination Bill), Rep. Philips, Donna Howard, Rep. Dunham, Rep Hartnett, Rep. McReynolds and Rep. Davis is that these representative are voting in place of other representatives who are not present in the legislative session. Rep. Riddle was quoted saying, “We have a lot of votes, we have a lot of amendments and there’s times where we don’t break for lunch and we don’t break for dinner; we don’t get bathroom breaks…” The state rule about voting for other representatives reads: “Any member found guilty by the house of knowingly voting for another member shall be disciplined by the members of the house.”

Nancy Wilson on CBS 42 said that this is a “widespread practice” and there has been “no documented efforts of disciplinary action taken against these representatives.” These are the people who we vote into office to represent our views and our desires regarding the direction our government is headed. These are OUR representatives that WE pay to sit in the Texas Legislative Session for 140 days every other year and they cannot make it to work or follow the rules that they set for themselves. There is obviously an issue here.

“In political science, legitimacy is the popular acceptance of a governing law or régime as an authority. Whereas “authority” denotes a specific position in an established government, the term “legitimacy” denotes a system of government – wherein “government” denotes “sphere of influence”. Political legitimacy is considered a basic condition for governing, without which a government will suffer legislative deadlock(s) and collapse. In political systems where this is not the case, unpopular régimes survive because they are considered legitimate by a small, influential élite.”1

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” With that said, it is our moral and civic duty to insure that these representatives are replaced and no longer allowed to hold public office with all due quickness. I can no longer stand idly by and watch our political process be absolutely destroyed by a group of legislators who refuse to follow the rules but continue to legislate draconian policies that not only undermine the US Constitution but continue to keep the evolution of justice subdued. This behavior has to end. No longer should our citizens be satisfied with the status quo, no more should we allow these people to legislate our bodies, our minds and our souls. We must make our voices heard on this subject.

When any bill dealing with cannabis goes through the Texas legislative session, it goes to the Texas Jurisprudence Committee which helps to decide whether the legalization will impact certain sectors of our society, including law enforcement. Debbie Riddle is one of the members of the TJC yet did not even know what the substance (cannabis) was that she was legislating.

“The hearing for HB 902 was held Wednesday, April 8th. At the conclusion of some testimony, Rep. Debbie Riddle, District 150, Houston, asked “What is ‘cannabis’?” As the committee snickered, the individual who delivered the testimony explained that cannabis is the clinical/scientific term for the substance she knew as ‘marijuana.’ Riddle then stated that she had never heard the term before. During that same session in 2009 Rep. Riddle introduced and passed through the House HB 3680 which would subject those found to be in possession of any amount of cannabis in the same place as someone under the age of 17 to one year in jail and $4,000 in fines.”
– Texas NORML (Austin)

In conclusion, if you are a Texas voter, you should get up, stand up and make your voice head. It is 2012 and we are being governed by people that cannot sufficiently govern their time, their PART-TIME jobs or the bills and laws that pass their desks. The actions we are seeing taking place in Austin and in other capital cities around the country is sickening. Do not let your legislators pass bills they don’t read. Do not let your legislators vote in place of representatives who are not present at the time of voting. Do not let your representatives pass voter ID laws. These people are responsible to and answer to us and we are responsible for voting them out of office. Prove me wrong. Show me that democracy isn’t dead and that people like YOU are willing to make a change. The next election is May 29. Help restore the nation, help restore the republic and let’s end cannabis prohibition; one Texan at a time.

1 Dahl, Robert A. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition (pp. 124–188). New Haven (Connecticut) and London: Yale University Press, 1971.