Politics of Texas
Although de jure there are multiple political parties in the USA, de facto only two of them have influence on the life of the country at the national level. They are the Republican and the Democratic Parties. Each of them has traditionally established positions as to most questions and its voters who often support the party from generation to generation.
The history of the two parties goes back to the 19th century. At that time, the two dominant parties were the Democrats and the Whigs. In 1854, the abolitionist movement was launched in the northern states, and following it a new party was founded: the Republican Party. Political influence of the Republicans grew after Abraham Lincoln was elected president. After the abolition of slavery, the Republicans remained the main representative force of the North, supporting the development of the industry and private enterprises. Consequently, the Democrats defended the interests of the working population. They were supported by poorer layers of society: by immigrants, workers and trade unions, and later by the Afro-Americans (Schaffner and Biddy).
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In the 20th century, political line of each of the parties became clearly distinguishable. The Democrats manifested themselves as the left party. They advocated state involvement in the country’s economy, government regulation of some economic sectors, welfare benefits and higher taxation.
The Republicans became the party of the right. They see governmental involvement as a destructive force in the economy. The Republicans support local autonomy and the responsibility of the individual for his own well-being. Consequently, they are against extensive welfare programs and high taxation (Shefter).
Traditionally, every state in the United States has its allegiance to one of the two parties, except for the so called swing states, whose decisions largely influence, for example, the results of presidential elections. For many years, Southern states were considered to be pro-Democratic (Schaffner and Biddy). This was explained by the origins of the Republican Party and its initial support of the North in the conflict between the states.
Like other Southern states, since the times of the Civil War, Texas was always considered to be dominated by the Democratic Party. However, most political observers agree that in the last few decades, Texas has experiences what is known as political realignment. Surveys show that most Texans now associate themselves with the Republicans (Maxwell, Crain, and Santos 124). This trend manifests itself in both local and national elections.
Nonetheless, the future of Texas political allegiance is uncertain. The demographic changes are likely to influence the way the state handles its local political questions, as well as the way it votes on the national level. Among many important social issues, the question of immigration seems to be the most influential. The Senate has already passed the new immigration bill, and president Obama urges the House leaders to finish all work on this reform by August (Boyer). If the immigration bill becomes a law, it will bring significant changes into the US immigration policy. This reform foresees the process of legalization for some 11 million immigrants that for the moment live illegally on the USA territory. Consequently, the ever growing Hispanic population, which is already the second largest among all the states, will be further enlarged by the newly legalized immigrant, who will receive the right to vote. Thus, Hispanic population is likely to become the majority in Texas in the next decades. As the experience of other states shows, Hispanic population is generally pro-democratic (Hoppe and Hacker). Consequently, political analysts foresee the probable change in Texas political allegiance.
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The dominant political parties continue their everlasting struggle for local and national domination. The Republicans are traditionally associated with business, industry, and wealth, whereas the Democrats are thought to represent the interests of the working class Americans. However, demographic changes are likely to influence the alignment of forces and may force the Republicans to get adjusted.