There are a multitude of countries around the world who claim democratic processes, but are actually ruled by one-party oligarchies. Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela come to mind.
Perhaps we Texans should begin to become concerned that the long-held dominance of the Republican Party in our State is leading us ever so steadily in that direction. The race that I got involved in the past two election cycles, the Texas Railroad Commission is a great case in point. Let’s look at the evidence.
The Texas Railroad Commission regulates our State’s most important industry, oil and gas, and has no current authority over its namesake railroads. Yet our Legislature has consistently resisted changing the name. We are about to complete a third (yes third) Sunset Commission review since 2010. The Chairman of the Sunset Commission is already proposing to remove the staff recommendation to change the name to the Texas Energy Resources Commission. It looks increasingly likely that the 85th Texas Legislature will retain this misleading and dishonest name. This is in spite of the fact that fewer than 5% of Texas voters actually know what the Railroad Commission does.
Obfuscation is a well-known tool of tyrannies.
The Texas Railroad Commission remains an openly avowed champion of the oil and gas industry. To be elected, Republican candidates for the office are required to claim fealty to this industry. Sitting Commissioners regularly speak of “our” industry, claiming no distance between themselves and the industry they regulate.
Collaboration with powerful economic interests is a well-known tool of tyrannies.
In the 2016 primary elections, the Republican Party picked perhaps its most unqualified candidate as its nominee for Texas Railroad Commissioner. The Democratic Party did no better, perhaps realizing that it was futile to put up a good candidate when the Republican would assuredly win.
Once the primaries were over, the Republican nominee essentially disappeared from political sight. He failed to show up at debates. He failed to show up and editorial board interviews at the State’s two largest newspapers. Reporters repeatedly complained that they were unable to interview him for stories.
Once the primaries were over, the Republican nominee spent all his “campaign” time talking only to Republican groups and oil and gas interests.
Marginalizing opponents is a well-known tool of tyrannies.
The Libertarian Party candidate garnered all the major newspaper endorsements in the State, with the Republican candidate garnering none. It was clear to the newspapers and others that the Libertarian candidate had far superior qualifications, experience, and policy positions to all the other candidates.
Yet, without exception, both oil and gas interests and the Republican faithful (including the Governor) endorsed and financially supported the Republican nominee. Republican leaders repeatedly call for voters to straight-ticket vote.
Demanding party loyalty is a well-known tool of tyrannies.
So Texas, are we on the road to tyranny? Perhaps we are already there. But we can take our government back. The ballot box is still free. We are still free to make changes that would take us off the path to one-party rule. Join me.