In this country we have several ways in which we use our voting power. We elect House representatives to represent each of our individual districts; we elect senators to represent our state; and we let the popular vote within each state determine which presidential candidate gets that state’s electoral votes, which ultimately decides who becomes president.
But the truest form of democracy is found when citizens are allowed to vote on individual issues directly. You see this most often at the very local level, but sometimes it’s done on the state level as well. While an elected representative might break campaign promises, a citizen directly voting on something is possibly the truest form of what democracy is all about – especially when it comes to issues impacting our local communities. After all, who knows our communities better than we do?
Well, a new bill that’s almost certainly going to become law in Texas sets out to directly undermine democracy in one of the most brazen ways I’ve seen in recent memory.
Last fall the town of Denton, TX (just north of Dallas) voted to ban fracking within city limits. Again, in the truest form of democracy, the majority of the citizens of Denton voted to ban the controversial drilling practice within their community. And the vote wasn’t even close – it passed 59-41, which is about as “overwhelming” as you get in today’s political world.
Democracy wins, right? Not exactly.
Almost immediately following this vote, Texas Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick said she was going to ignore the ban, claiming it wasn’t up to Denton or its residents whether or not fracking takes place within city limits.
Well, if this new bill passes (which it will), it will prohibit cities and towns in Texas from passing similar bans on fracking.
In other words, if local residents don’t want their town ruined by fracking – too bad. Basically, big oil and gas didn’t like the fact that this ban was passed, or that other cities and towns might pass similar bans, therefore the politicians they’ve bought and paid for are going to make sure these bans are deemed “illegal.”
“Small government” Republicans strike again; nothing says “we support small government and the voice of the people” quite like using the state government to override local communities, and the people living in those communities. This bill will effectively end any way for local residents to oppose the highly controversial drilling method that’s been linked to contaminated drinking water and a drastic increase in earthquakes.
What’s even more comical is Republicans in the state are framing the ban passed by Denton as “big government.” Tell me, what’s bigger government:
- Local residents within a community overwhelmingly voting to ban something they don’t want allowed in their city. – or –
- The state government passing a law that overrides local voter and bans communities from blocking big oil companies from ruining their communities.
It’s absolutely disgusting.