Every culture holds certain standards to ensure that actions of its constituents do not harm individuals and public. Most of the standards are either verbal or written. In a democratic state such as the United States, a written set of rules used to govern a nation and its people is referred to as a constitution. By definition, a constitution is a document that represents an accord between the government and its citizens in identifying duties, obligations and limitations of each party. It also establishes the procedures for action, law making, and voter registration and participation in the elections (The University of Texas). Just like any other state, Texas has a constitution, which is a subject to controversial debates on whether it needs rewriting. The aim of this discussion is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the debates on the rewriting of the Texas Constitution.
THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION TODAY AND THE DEBATES ON ITS REWRITE
The Texas Constitution of 1876 remains the fundamental document of the Texas State Government. It exists for a long time despite the fact that it has been drafted to respond to the extreme insufficiencies of Constitution of 1869 (Boatright 11). Through the years, undoubtedly, Texans’ opinions on the subject of constitution rewrite have differed significantly. Different groups of Texas have been engaging in verbal battles trying to announce their various arguments on what the next move should be: amendment or rewrite. Firstly, we look at the proposers. These are the Texans calling for a newly rewritten constitution. Among their reasons is the idea that the Texas Constitution is excessively long and outdated, voter turnout for constitutional amendment elections is unexpectedly low and voters are asked to vote for amendments that are not adequately summarized in brief explanatory statements (Boatright 16). Moreover, the proposers argue that rewriting the Texas Constitution would confer more powers on the government and thus, promote better service delivery to the Texans.
Secondly, there are opponents, the groups of Texans that argue that there is no needfor rewriting the Texas Constitution. Their opinions rely on various reasons. They claim that despite the numerous flaws, the Texas Constitution is still a purposeful document. In case any changes are needed, then they can be achieved through amendments. They argue that a rewrite makes no difference because a few interested and influential individuals will control it. Even more, they look at past amendments to conclude that rewriting constitution is a risky endeavour with no guaranteed success. The debates continue to occur today. In fact, the latest polls on constitutional amendment were held in 2011 in order to decide whether the troubled Texas Constitution should be amended ten more times (Boatright 20). 653 amendments have been proposed since its inception in 1876. However, only 474 proposals have received ratification.
ARGUMENT FOR REWRITING THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION
Historically, Texas was among the original thirteen states that stood independently as sovereign democracies before the declaration of states under the Federal government of the United States. As an independent state, Texas used the jurisdiction of foreign powers such as Mexico, Spain and France, whose influence made Texas rely on different constitutions at different times (The University of Texas). Being originally an aristocratic colony, Texas has continued to retain various policies and legislations that limit the voting rights of lower class individuals and minority groups. Based on these and other reasons explained below, I agree with the significant proportion of Texans proposing a rewrite of the Texas Constitution.
There are various valid reasons for the rewrite of the Texas Constitution. The first argument is that the Texas Constitution is old and outdated. We live in a new era of the 21st century, when the needs of the state and citizens have changed significantly. At the age of almost 200 hundred years, it is likely that the Texas Constitution does not provide a solid foundation to govern the ever-growing urban State of Texas (The University of Texas; Tucker and Clay 119). As a result, poor service delivery to Texans continues with tthe government not creating value for its citizens.
Secondly, the Texas Constitution is overly long and detailed, disorganised and poorly written (The University of Texas). In 1876, the Texas Constitution had around 23,500 words before any modifications. Over the years, occasional amendment processes have made the Texas constitution substantially longer reaching approximately 86,000 words presently (The University of Texas; Jillson 187). In fact, the Texas Constitution is one of the longest in the United States. Correspondingly, the Texas Constitution is among the most difficult to understand as it used complicated legal jargon unknown to many citizens (Boatright 21). Thus, it is appropriate to rewrite the Texas Constitution so that it will be understandable to the Texans. As a result, it will facilitate higher public involvement in the state affairs.
Thirdly, current Texas Constitution provides very little information on powers and jurisdictions of the state government. Consequently, it influences the governor’s political powers, which are divided among other elected officials (The University of Texas). This leads to various executive members end up guarding their powers, jurisdiction and privileges jealously at the office. In this context, governing the State of Texas becomes challenging and results in poor and inefficient service delivery to Texans, as well as continued power discrepancies (Tucker and Clay 119). Therefore, the Texas Constitution should be rewritten so that it clearly states the powers and limitations of elected leaders.
Finally, the Texas Constitution needs full revision because it no longer serves its purpose as a constitution. Primarily, a constitution should outline the ideologies of the society and the government, as well as the political goals to be accomplished. It should also frame the names of particular institutions that people can use to achieve social objectives (Jillson 149). Based on the analysis of the Texas Constitution, it is reasonable to say that it lacks most of these functions. Therefore, the best solution is rewriting the constitution so that it functions as expected.