Does the Texas Governor Need More Power: Persuasive Essay

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To answer the question of whether the governor of Texas needs more power, in my essay I will analyze the different roles the governor of Texas and the president of the United States fill. I will also compare and contrast the differences in each office, as well as the qualifications, and how each office came to be what it is by thoroughly investigating the history of these positions.

There are a variety of differences between each office, these differences contribute to the effectiveness of the individual in the position. The individual also contributes to the effectiveness of the office. When it comes to Texas governors, their personality is crucial to determining how successful they will be in advancing the policies and legislation they care about. Of course, for the president this also matters, however, their office grants them much more formal power. The first dilution of power for the governor of Texas comes with the plural executive which is a group of statewide officials who are independently elected. The governor’s lack of power makes these elected officials compete. Meanwhile, the president has strong, concentrated power in the executive branch. This is not to say the president is above checks and balances, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. However, the president is the head of the executive branch, which greatly differs from the plural executive of the Texas executive branch. The office of the president has been able to expand in the past because the Constitution was so vague about the powers of the president. The expansion was not overwhelming or unfair though, certain powers like the power to declare war, approve treaties, and approve presidential appointments stayed vested in the House and Senate. However, things like technology and a greater reach to the public did increase some informal powers of the president and allowed many presidents to take on more responsibilities and resources, which led to the expansion of power. In Texas, the powers are already divided so thinly, there is no room for an individual to lead in the way the United States government has allowed the president to. Second, both the president and governor have military and police power, but the extent of these powers greatly varies. Because of the way the government is organized, there is no reason for a governor to be a diplomat with foreign powers. This means not only does the president have to be a diplomat to his people, but also to other nations this is the obvious difference. However, the governor could have domestic police powers to help influence and empower the office. Some of the military and police powers of the governor are control over National Guard units when they are not under the control of the president and declare martial law. The governor has little police power because these are local responsibilities, however, the governor does appoint a 3-member Public Safety Commission which directs the work of the Department of Public Safety. The governor can also assume command of the Rangers if the situation warrants. When analyzing the militant powers of the president, he/she has much more influence and formal power, most obviously where the governor cannot, on a global level. The president can negotiate with other nations, command the armed forces, wage war, manage crises, and obtain the necessary support from Congress for things like declaring war. Beyond this, the president is the chief diplomat, which means certain diplomatic powers that are exclusive to the executive branch can be wielded by him/her without the approval of Congress or the Senate. It is also important the president leads the nation's allies in the right direction on more than just military conflicts to retain strong global powers for the United States. In this case, it only makes sense for the president to wield more power, because domestically we are not in need of war negotiating or executive agreements. Domestically though, the governor could have command of police forces. This would also aid many poor and small towns that don’t have the budget for the police if the governor were to ever have control of peace officers statewide, but it would be greatly surprising if the governor’s powers were ever expanded. All in all, the biggest difference is the concentration of power in each office.

The similarities in each office greatly outnumber the differences, seeing as the Texas government is for the most part modeled after the United States government. The first and one of the most vital resources for both the president and the governor is public appeal. George C. Edwards says in 'The Presidency' article that “public support is perhaps the greatest source of influence the president has” (Edwards, 401); this can be said of the governorship of Texas as well. One of the governor’s biggest powers is to influence interest groups, editorial boards of newspapers, and other opinion leaders to support his or her agenda. The prestige of the office is also a great contributor to the governor’s influence, but all informal sources of power come from skills that not everyone has. In 'Governing Texas', the writers say that not all governors have the personal skills to turn the office into a powerful one. Once again, when it comes to the governorship, we are reminded the individual's personality is a huge factor in effectiveness. When it comes to the presidency, many things are staged or done just so public approval can be met. After all, it is hard for other power holders in the government to deny legitimate demands of a president with popular backing. It is important to note that although the presidency and the governorship have this in common, the presidency is much more powerful, because of this power coupled with strong formal powers that the governor of Texas doesn’t have. The next power which is by far one of the most important powers of both the president and the governor of Texas is appointment power. Much of the Texas government is run through boards and commissions headed by appointment members, this is where the governor can make big decisions and extend his power throughout the state. Many of the governors’ appointees were also campaign contributors, this is patronage. The governor can also use appointment power to influence agency policy, this power is not only political but important to run the government effectively, as not all appointees are campaign contributors. These appointments need to make the governor look good, so the governor must appoint competent individuals. In the presidency, this power is most of the time overlooked, because it is not as big as some of the president’s other powers. Regardless both offices share the power to appoint individuals to boards, agencies, and commissions. Next, both offices have the power of the veto. While the governor of Texas cannot pocket veto like the president, the governor can make post-adjournment vetoes, and the president cannot line-item veto like the governor. Because of this, the White House usually compromises on parts of a bill it doesn’t like, for the sake of the parts it does like. For both the presidency and governorship most vetoes are not overridden. In the presidency, the veto is an inherently negative resource that is most useful for preventing legislation. While in the governor’s office, the veto, especially the line-item veto, is an essential use of power to make the governor effective, but also active in the legislative workings of the government. The last similarity I will be discussing also deals with the legislative branch. In both the presidency and the governorship, personal appeals to Congress members and consulting with Congress is a huge part of their power. In the governorship, the governor doesn’t have to rely as much on consulting, because of the line-item veto, but personal appeals are still necessary in both offices. For the president, bargaining is an important power in place of the line-item veto. In the Texas government, at the beginning of each legislative session, the governor delivers the state-of-the-state address which outlines the goals of the session or even proposes programs as part of the governor’s influence on the legislation.

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The next thing I will be comparing between the presidential and governorship is the qualifications for each position. To be president, an individual running for office must be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and must have resided in the U.S. for at least 14 years. To be governor of Texas, the qualifications are to be at least 30 years old, be a U.S. citizen and have lived in Texas for at least 5 years immediately before the election. Neither one of these offices require too strict of pre-requisites, this is because the framers of both the U.S. government and the Texas government wanted these two offices to be held by normal everyday people who genuinely care about their country and state. In 'The Presidency' article, the writer quotes Clarence Darrow when he said “When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could become president. Now I’m beginning to believe it” (Edwards, 371).

Each office also has a variety of limitations or checks and balances. First and most prominent is the power of impeachment. To impeach the president, the majority of the House must vote on the grounds of treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. After the majority of the House votes toward impeachment, it goes to the Senate, which tries the accused president, by a two-thirds vote the Senate may convict and remove the president. For the governor of Texas to be impeached, it is the exact same process, except there are no clearly defined grounds for impeachment. If the governor of Texas is removed, he/she cannot hold any statewide offices again. The next limitation of power is the term limit imposed on both offices. The 22 Amendment limits the president to a 4-year term, and if he/she wins re-election, they can have a max of two terms. The governor of Texas serves a 4-year term as well but with no term limit. Both offices are covered with checks and balances, whether it is the plural executive in Texas or the strong branches of government at the national level. These elected officials both have the fear of too much power woven throughout their offices by the framers.

The Texas Constitution of 1876 was written by a group of individuals during the end of the Reconstruction era, these individuals saw how powerful the government was during the Reconstruction era and feared any individual having too much power. Because of this they made a weak governor and split the powers of the executive branch among 7 members, 5 of whom are independently elected and are not under the control of the governor whatsoever. Their intent was to make a government truly accountable to the people. As true as this may be, the government still has big money interest groups and lobbyists who don’t know or care about the needs of everyday people. On top of that, the governor and those elected have the power shared so thinly that they can’t always do the jobs we have elected them to do.

Empowering the office of the governor is paramount, the fear of the individual holding the office is a fair one, but that only means we need more checks and balances. When looking at the presidency, it is clear that it is possible for there to be a strong executive leader with formal powers strong enough to be extremely effective, but also checked by the other, also strong, branches of government. Political commentators have alternated between extolling and fearing a strong presidency. So, it is clear, the fear of the government having too much power is alive and well, especially for Texans. The government is run by the people though, and by the people being more active in the government we can shape how it looks and what it can accomplish. The first thing needed to improve the effectiveness of the governor is to fix the plural executive. I am not saying to do away with it completely, because it has served the state well. But allowing one member of the plural executive to be higher than the others so there is some sort of leadership could be beneficial to allow a more effective and consistent government. Second, allowing the governor to be head of a statewide police force, would help small towns to have a police presence and contribute to the governor’s effectiveness in matters of law. This power would obviously need to be checked, this check could come from the House, allowing the people to be closer to his decisions, while also allowing him to run the executive branch as an elected official should. The biggest issue, though, is the plural executive. Next, if the governor of Texas was empowered and made the absolute head of the executive branch, similar to that of the presidency, the legislature would also need to be empowered, which means longer sessions and better pay. These changes would most probably lead to more visible elections, which means more voter participation. And most importantly, more say and influence in the government from the people. These changes could lead to a more effective government, but also more democratic participation.

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Does the Texas Governor Need More Power: Persuasive Essay. (2023, December 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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