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Analysis Of The Texas Plural Executive

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Introduction: Texas and its Plural Executive – Texas is one of the states in the United States that uses the plural executive system in state governance. The plural executive system was put in effect by the 1876 Constitution. This was done so that the case of the abuse of power of the Davis Administration would not repeat itself. Today’s plural executive, particularly in Texas, sees the cutting off of some of the powers from the hands of the governor and instead distributing it among members of the plural executive, namely the office of the Secretary of State, the Lieutenant Governor’s office, the office of the Attorney General, the office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Commissioner of the General Land Office’s office, the Commissioner of Agriculture’s office, the Elected Boards and Commissions, the Railroad Commission’s office, the office of the State Board of Education, the Appointed Agency Directors and the Appointed and Ex-Officio Boards and Commissions.

This paper will delve on the search for the answer to the question on the impact of what many think as a limited or curtailed power and influence of the governor to become an effective instrument of public service. In the effort to pursue such analysis, some individuals take a very general viewpoint and pins the hopes of measuring the ability of the governor vis-à-vis its power using very broad means like the ability for effective legislation of new laws, etc, not realizing that it is in the little things that the governor does that provides the grounds for analysis on whether or not the governor of Texas indeed has enough power to carry out the duties expected of him or her by the electorate, and one of these tasks is the appointing of individuals in public and government positions. This is one of the most important avenues that can be used to assess the level and extent of power the governor will have at his or her disposal, regardless and notwithstanding the implications of the plural executive.

How does the plural executive system impact the power of the governor? – Some say that the presence of the plural executive system resulted to the powers of the governor becoming more limited compared to other governors who rule without the presence of the plural executive. Some insist that despite the creation of the plural executive system and the putting in place of such system in Texas was an eventuality that the governors that served Texas managed to negotiate and hurdle in time when it comes to the argument of amassing and exercising power that can either help or hurt Texas.

Which is closer to the truth and which claim is a mere product of poor political power struggle analysis at play in Texas? The Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services in the University of Texas in Austin notes that the Texas governor still has ‘a significant resource’ that the governor may lean on in the pursuit of building support as well as in accomplishing political goals through the power of appointment, a power that translates to ‘several hundred appointments’ in entities found in nearly ‘200 boards, commissions, and agencies’ which ‘oversee the daily operation of government'(2005).

While the power is distributed in the hands of many different individuals, the governor can use these power of appointment to establish a solid support base by which pressure group and network-based allegiance recruitment can start, ultimately providing the means by which bigger building blocks can be added to the governor’s base of power and clout, notwithstanding the distributed power and the seemingly difficult task of consolidating such influence for the benefit of one or select few.

Is the plural executive hurting the state government? – Like every natural aspect of life, the plural executive system is also capable of affecting the state government in a negative way, and this generates specifically from power manipulation and the possible bureaucratic traffic that may result from the additional channels and the extension of systems in an effort to regulate the exercise of power and deter the abuse of power. The question is this – how does the plural executing system hurt the state government. The first way is when the system itself hinders the faster and more expedient ways and means that the concerns of the people of Texas are addressed by the local government.

There is also another way – at some point, the plural executive is its own undoing. With the putting in place of plural executive system, political leaders like the governor in particular do not feel comfortable and assured especially with the fact that there are those who believe that the governor’s powers and functions are drastically diminished in the plural executive schema.

So what the governor will do is to focus on asset building and clout improvement. There is a good chance that the exercise of its remaining power will be used not to pursue legislative action designed to benefit the electorate but to protect him or herself and his or her interests from the possible drawback brought about by the instability of his or her position. The governor is susceptible to using his or her powers in an effort to appease supporters by favoring them and placing them in government positions as a way of thanking the individual for his or her support and at the same time to using the appointment as an emotional leverage in the form of debt which can result to support and allegiance in the future.

Is the plural executive helping the state government to function and pass laws? – There are some observers who consider the presence of a plural executive system in Texas as a means that does not incapacitate the governor and the system of legislation in Texas, putting the governor in a position which is still comfortable for him or her from which state governance functions like the passing of new laws and the revision of new laws can be undertaken. The University of Texas noted how the governor can put allies in ‘strategic locations in state government’ and transform these to becoming critical assets so that the governor is still capable in establishing and carrying out policies (2005).

Rye (2008) was one of those who believes that the governor of Texas still has adequate amount of power that he or she can use to effect change or introduce his or her approach to particular concerns in Texas that requires the action of the governor, the ‘most visible office in Texas government’ after all is still regarded by the public to be holding ‘considerable power’ despite being characterized as ‘weak in formal powers’ and that the limitations of the governor can be countered by using the power to power to appoint as a means to offset whatever weaknesses the governor has, power and influence-wise.

Conclusion – Is it really important to ascertain the restrain and limitation to power that the plural executive system has bestowed upon the governor of Texas, or is it better to discuss instead the extend to which the governor’s arms can still reach regardless of the changes in the political system, assuming that, with all naivety aside, that the governor was dissecting the true nature and extent of the governor’s power in the effort to identify the capacity by which he or she can help his electorate and not in the pursuit of his or her own political agenda? The governor, is in fact, still the executor of several important capacities that can provide either a positive or negative effect in city wide or state-wide legislation; its just that compared to other governors who are not bound to this type of government style,  the Texas governor’s power is relatively diminished.

But what the governor and the people should also greatly consider is the fact that state and constitutionally protected and granted rights and privileges to its elected leaders is just one part of the equation, and that the greater aspect in the success and effective maneuvering of power depends on the personal characteristics of the governor himself or herself, as well as the existing political climate that also impacts the governor’s actions and decisions decisively. if governors would opt to be fatalistic about how the Fate would manipulate the factors that can lead to either a promising or disappointing execution of political plans, they cannot be blamed since the governor’s scheming to maneuver himself with all the advantages his or her position can muster still highly depends on the whims of chance unfolding in a way and through a pattern no one can really decode or predict.

Works Cited:

Dubose, Lou. “The Texan who actually governed.” Salon Media Group. 15 September 2006.

      15 February 2008 <http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/09/15/richards/>.

Dye, Thomas R. “Chapter 23: The Texas Executive and Bureaucracy.” Chapter Overview.

      Politics in America. 2008. 15 February 2008


“Texas Executive.” 15 February 2008 <www.tamiu.edu/~jnorris/executive.txt>.

“The Executive Branch. 4.1 Appointments.” Texas Politics. Liberal Arts Instructional

      Technology Services. University of Texas at Austin. 2005. 15 February 2008


“Texas At Your Fingertips.” Texas Online. 2008. 15 February 2008


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