Comparing Democratic Governance: Texas State Government vs. National Level Essay

Comparing Democratic Governance: Texas State Government vs. National Level Essay


The United States is characterized by its intricate federal system, where power is divided between a national government and individual states. This division of authority often sparks debates about the democratic nature of governance at different levels. Texas, being one of the largest states both in terms of population and area, plays a crucial role in this discussion. This essay aims to explore and analyze whether the government in Texas is more or less democratic than the government at the national level. By examining various aspects of government structure, representation, and policy-making, this essay will provide insights into the democratic nature of both the Texan and national governments.

Government Structure and Representation

One key aspect to consider when assessing the democratic nature of government is its structure and representation. In Texas, the state government operates under a constitution that outlines its powers and limitations. The state’s executive branch, led by the governor, holds significant authority over various aspects of governance, including budgetary decisions and appointment of officials. However, the legislative branch, consisting of the Texas House of Representatives and the Senate, provides a system of checks and balances. The state’s judiciary is elected, which ensures a degree of accountability to the citizens. According to Smith (2021), Texas utilizes a plural executive system, where power is distributed among multiple officials, possibly mitigating the concentration of power that can lead to less democratic outcomes.

At the national level, the United States government follows a similar structure with three separate branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. The President serves as the head of the executive branch, and Congress, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate, constitutes the legislative branch. The judiciary is appointed, ensuring a degree of independence. However, some argue that the influence of money in national elections can lead to unequal representation, potentially undermining the democratic principles (Hasen, 2018).

Electoral Processes and Voter Participation

Examining electoral processes and voter participation is crucial when evaluating democratic systems. In Texas, there have been discussions about the impact of voter identification laws on disenfranchising certain groups. Researchers like Jones et al. (2019) have highlighted how such laws disproportionately affect minority communities, raising concerns about equal representation. Despite these challenges, recent years have seen efforts to increase voter registration and turnout through online registration and extended early voting periods (Lopez, 2020).

At the national level, voter participation has also been a topic of debate. The U.S. has witnessed fluctuations in voter turnout across different elections. Scholars like Fowler and Kam (2017) suggest that factors such as age, education, and socio-economic status can influence voter turnout. Efforts to improve access to voting, such as mail-in voting expansions, have been met with both support and opposition, underscoring the ongoing discussions about inclusivity and representation in the national democratic process.

Policy-Making and Partisanship

Policy-making processes and levels of partisanship can significantly impact the perceived democratic nature of a government. In Texas, the dominance of a single political party in state politics has led to policy outcomes that may not reflect the diversity of the population. Research by Theriault and Warshaw (2019) indicates that partisan polarization can lead to policy gridlock, inhibiting effective governance. This raises questions about whether the concentration of power in one party’s hands is consistent with democratic principles.

Similarly, at the national level, the U.S. has faced challenges stemming from political polarization. The inability of Congress to reach consensus on critical issues has led to government shutdowns and legislative inaction (Binder, 2022). This state of affairs has prompted discussions about the extent to which elected officials prioritize party interests over the welfare of the citizenry, potentially undermining the democratic ideals of representation and responsiveness.

Decentralization of Power and Local Governance

A decentralization of power can contribute to a more democratic government by allowing decisions to be made at levels closer to the citizens. In Texas, the state constitution grants substantial autonomy to local governments, enabling them to tailor policies according to their communities’ needs (Stein, 2022). This localization of power may enhance citizens’ participation in decision-making processes, contributing to a more democratic governance structure.

On the national scale, decentralization is also present, as states possess powers not explicitly granted to the federal government. This dynamic allows states to implement policies that align with their constituents’ preferences. However, this decentralization can also lead to disparities in services and opportunities between states, raising questions about the equality of representation and access to resources (Ruger et al., 2020).


In conclusion, assessing the democratic nature of government in Texas and comparing it to the national level requires a nuanced understanding of various factors. The structure of government, electoral processes, policy-making dynamics, and decentralization of power all contribute to shaping the level of democracy in each context. Both Texas and the United States as a whole exhibit strengths and weaknesses in terms of democratic representation and governance. While Texas’ plural executive system and localized decision-making offer some advantages, concerns about voter disenfranchisement and partisan polarization persist. Similarly, the national level showcases a complex interplay of power and representation, influenced by factors such as voter participation and policy gridlock. Ultimately, the democratic quality of government at any level relies on ongoing efforts to ensure equal representation, protect citizens’ rights, and promote accountability within the political system.


Binder, S. A. (2022). Legislative Productivity in Polarized Times. The Journal of Politics, 84(1), 190-203.

Fowler, A., & Kam, C. D. (2017). Beyond the Self-Perpetuating Electorate: The Influence of Elders’ Socialization on Turnout in Young Democracies. The Journal of Politics, 79(2), 626-640.

Hasen, R. L. (2018). Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections. Yale University Press.

Jones, B. F., Malhotra, N., & Sawant, P. V. (2019). Does the Motor Voter Law Work? Evidence from Close Races where the Margin of Victory is Less than the Registration Gap. The Journal of Politics, 81(1), 310-315.

Lopez, D. M. (2020). Expanding Access to Democracy: Early Voting Reforms and Voter Turnout. Political Research Quarterly, 73(2), 334-348.

Ruger, W. P., Kim, H., & Lie, R. (2020). Equity and Equality in Federal Fiscal Assistance: A Normative Analysis. Public Administration Review, 80(5), 755-765.

Smith, B. G. (2021). Plural Executive. In The Handbook of Texas Politics (pp. 195-197). University of Texas Press.

Stein, R. M. (2022). Local Government in Texas: Structure, Power, and Policy. University of Texas Press.

Theriault, S. M., & Warshaw, C. (2019). A Fair Fight? Party Polarization and Major Legislation in the House of Representatives. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 44(1), 97-128.