Government and Politics in the Lone State

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9780133285017: Government and Politics in the Lone State

Reflecting the insights of authors who have written about, taught, or participated in Texas government and politics for over 30 years, this extremely readable book explores Texas government and its relationship to the people it serves and to the federal and local governments that form the American political system. It improves readers' civic literacy, and will start them on a lifelong journey in developing the concepts, skills, and behaviors that will make political and governmental institutions more responsive to their needs, interests and expectations. Chapter topics cover the social and economic milieu of Texas politics; the Texas constitution; intergovernmental relationships; interest groups and power in Texas politics; the mass media; the party system; elections, campaigns, and political behavior; the Texas legislature; the Texas executive; bureaucracy and policy implementation; the judicial system; local government; and contemporary public policy issues in Texas. For anyone who wants a better understanding of the legislative theory and actual practice of state politics and government—especially the citizens of Texas.

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From the Publisher:

Reflecting the insights of authors who have written about, taught, or participated in Texas government and politics for over 20 years, this text explores Texas government and its relationship to the people it serves and to the federal and local governments that form the American political system.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Citizens often take their governments for granted. We all expect that the water that comes through the taps is clean. When a fire occurs, we expect a quick response by the fire department. We have high expectations of our public schools, and we give little thought to the cleanliness of restaurants because we rely on health inspectors to monitor eating facilities. We seldom give any thought to the role of the Texas Legislature in funding our colleges and universities. Nor do we give a great deal of attention to the decisions of our courts. Moreover, very few of us spend much time worrying about our prisons or jails.

Both authors have studied and written about Texas government and politics for more than thirty years. We find it quite paradoxical that citizens have high expectations of their governments but know so little about the state's governmental institutions and the political process. People often confuse the Texas Legislature with the U.S. Congress and state courts with federal courts. When there are emergencies or problems that citizens want to resolve, they often have no idea where to start.

The purpose of this book is to assist students in developing civic literacy. Governments provide a wide range of services to Texans. We depend on governments to anticipate collective problems and provide solutions. We hope those in office are concerned with the general needs of the state, not just those of specific groups. We expect those in public office to act democratically and be responsive to Texans. We want good public policy, but we also want those in office to tax fairly and spend wisely. But if we don't know much about our institutions, the political process, and our public officials, how can we hold accountable those who act for us?

To understand government, the political process, and public policies that impact our lives, we have to look closely at the structures of our institutions and the principles upon which these institutions are based. We must also develop an understanding of political behavior and assess why political actors do the things they do. We must also have a historical perspective on our institutions and political process to understand the changes that have occurred and why they have occurred.

In the following chapters, we will attempt not only to outline the principles and theories upon which state government is built but also to discuss the actions of public officials, interest groups, political organizations, the media, and citizens.

A great deal of information about the structure and functions of governmental and political institutions is presented to provide the reader with the basic data and analytical tools necessary to understand how these institutions are supposed to work. And we weave through this material our assessments of how these institutions really work, because theory and reality are often not the same.

Our purpose is not to train you to be a political scientist but to assist you in a lifelong journey in civic education, whereby you can develop the concepts, skills, and behaviors to make political and governmental institutions more responsive to your needs, interests, and expectations.

One of the authors is a political scientist trained in the theories and concepts that apply to the study of state and local politics. His contribution to this enterprise is to provide a theoretical perspective on the subject matter that he has been teaching for more than thirty-five years. He also brings a perspective of thirty years of campaign consulting, redistricting of local governmental bodies, and public opinion research for both the public and private sectors. Theories and concepts hold pieces of the puzzle together. And we find that when we apply the general concepts to specific events or actions, we are capable of providing more complex analysis of institutions and political processes.

The second author is a journalist who has covered Texas government and politics for more than thirty years. He crafts his arguments from the perspective of one who has seen both the best and the worst of public officials. Having made the observation of political behavior a lifelong vocation, he brings to our analysis a healthy skepticism of what those in public life say they are doing and insight into what they have actually done. His job is to tell the story, and as you cover the different chapters in this book, we suggest that you ask, "What is the story here?"

We are concerned with the normative, or value, issues of government and politics, and we have some rather strong opinions as to what governments and public officials should or should not do. At times, these opinions are likely to be imbedded in our discussion. We have not attempted to gloss over controversial issues, and there are implicit values in the very nature of our approach and the assumptions upon which we have built our discussion and analysis. When you encounter these assumptions and values, we invite you to question them. In the process, you will begin to develop a better understanding of your own value system as well as those values held by others.

In this fourth edition, we have updated data and anecdotes throughout the book. We continue to place much emphasis on the developments of the Texas economy and changing demographics. The state's party system also continues to change, and we have given attention to these changes. Much of the material in the chapter on public policy has been rewritten to reflect recent changes in the state's budget, taxes, education, criminal justice, and the protection of the environment.

We began this enterprise over fifteen years ago, and we are continually impressed that so much of Texas has changed. Yet, so much has remained the same.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A number of persons provided information, materials, and assistance that was crucial in the preparation of the fourth edition of this book. The authors would particularly like to thank the staff of Trinity University's Elizabeth Huth Coates Library for their support.

A special note of thanks to Erin Whitaker, who helped us with editing, reformatting files, and organizing tables and charts, and Dana Barile, who helped identify new materials and update many of the tables. Merrill Peterson of Matrix Productions managed this project adroitly through the publication phase, and we are appreciative of his assistance.

L. Tucker Gibson, Jr.
Clay Robison

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L. Tucker Gibson; Clay Robison
Published by Prentice Hall College Div (1995)
ISBN 10: 0133285014 ISBN 13: 9780133285017
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