Date: September 18, 2016
Subject: Political Trends in Collin County
National politics often draw attention away from local and state politics, however, local governments have much more immediate effects on their citizens than do the actions in Washington D.C. Through my recent interviews, I have learned that one of the more challenging aspects of serving on city council is the state government increasingly imposing its authority over cities. This political trend and its effects on local citizens sparked my research for this week.
Before I began researching the elections within the county, I knew that Collin County is comprised of educated, affluent suburbs. From news programs and a few books, I believed such a community to have a strong presence of moderate republicans. As I continued to ask questions regarding the state’s attitude towards local governments and as I read more on recent elections, the picture I had of the community changed.
Candidates running on one or two issues rallied voters upset with the current system, even if the majority of residents were pleased with the actions of their city councilmembers. As municipal elections often have little turnout, these candidates with passionate, but limited platforms became popular and supported the growing presence of the Tea Party. Over the course of a few elections, democrats stopped running, leaving the ballots populated by two candidates of the same party, alienating independent and liberal voters in Collin County. I believe this led to even less voter turnout, as voters who believed they had limited options or could not resonate with candidates on their platforms opted to stay home for municipal and state elections.
What does one make of polarized local politics? I have noticed that coverage of the presidential election has led to people believing that the problem with polarization is unique to Washington D.C. However, with one party ballots in Collin County elections, I believe it is clear that polarization has trickled down into our homes and communities. While there may not be a strong progressive liberal presence to oppose the Tea Party of Collin County, there are residents who do not connect with far-right ideologies, and the remainder of the State Legislature has a distaste for the outspoken group trying to spread its influence.
The lack of liberal candidates also poses questions as to why they ceased running in Collin County. While their slim chance at winning is the clear answer, I cannot accept that as the sole reason. Throughout modern history, candidates running to make a statement are not unheard of, take for example, Ross Perot and Gary Johnson. While both must have been cognizant of their improbability of moving into the White House, in my eyes, both ran knowing that putting money into their campaign would at least make a significant statement. In my first research assessment, I addressed the expensive cost of running a campaign, and having furthered my research in voting trends, I believe that democrats in Collin County are not running because they believe that the money they would put into a campaign would not be worth the lack of reward. Their likelihood of winning county positions may be minimal, however, I believe that Collin County has swung so right, that a liberal campaign would not even spark ideas and conversations.
Through my research, as well as personal experience as a citizen in the community, I see the voting trends in Collin County as votes against a given stance, not for a given stance. If the region’s voters are voting with negativity, then eventually our city councils and county commissions will no longer be comprised of people who want to serve the people, but instead, people who want to oppose government actions. I am not taking a stance on the issues the Tea Party is concerned by, I am taking a stance regarding who is in power. Both left and right ideologies have their merits, and I believe that a balance between the two is necessary. With the majority of Americans being independent of the two major parties, it can be assumed that even traditionally conservative counties are not completely conservative.
I believe that limited ballots are discouraging people from electing councils and commissions representative of their communities. I recognize and respect that someone may say that a Collin County ballot may be two republicans because they represent the vast majority of the people. However, the overwhelming majority of these candidates are running on issues such as abortion and as few taxes as possible. Municipal voters are concerned with public safety, schools, and other such governmental functions. These voters may want little taxation, however, I believe that governmental bodies not centered in an extreme political ideology are able to compromise to have well-funded police and fire departments and schools, without having high taxes. As I continue with my research and interviews, I want to continue looking in to voter trends, and how they shape communities. With Collin County having such a vibrant political atmosphere, I want to learn more about how voters shape policy efforts, and how elected officials communicate and work with the Tea Party.
Kim, Theodore. “A Conservative County Is Poised to Push Further to the Right.” The Dallas Morning News. N.p., 12 May 2012. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.