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Texas Politics - Texas Political Culture
 
 
  Key Words and Phrases

attorney general
The state's elected chief lawyer defending the state and advising other state officials.
Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal block grant program created by Congress in 1997 to help states provide chlidren's health care to low and moderate income families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but who cannot afford to buy private insurance. States provide matching funds from state revenues to obtain federal dollars according to formulas established by federal law. In 2003 the Texas legislature tightened eligibility requirements for Medicaid and reduced state matching money for the CHIP program to help cover a budget shortfall. Tens of thousands of previously insured or eligible children became ineligible for coverage generating a storm of protest. Funding was partially restored in the 2005 legislative session. For further information, see the CHIP feature in the Bureaucracy chapter
Civil Rights Act of 1964
This landmark federal legislation signed into law on July 2, 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson outlawed discrimination in public places, in government offices and programs, in schools, in housing, and in hiring based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.
classical liberalism
A political philosophy that places high value on individual freedom based on a belief in natural rights that exist independent of government. In its pure form, for example in contemporary libertarian thought, it holds that the best government is minimal in scope, providing security, but promoting laissez-faire policies toward morality, religion, the economy, and the rest of social life.
comptroller of public accounts
The state's elected chief tax collector, accountant, estimator of revenues, and treasurer.
Confederacy
The successionist government formed in 1861 in reaction to anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency. Eleven southern states whose economies were heavily dependent on slave labor asserted a right to leave the Union, banded together under a constitution much like the U.S. Constitution, and elected a government. States joining the Confederacy were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennesee, Texas, and Virginia.
empresario contract
A form of agreement used by the Republic of Mexico to facilitate and regulate settlement of Coahuila y Texas. A contractor or empresario, such as Stephen F. Austin, appointed by the state as its agent, would agree to recruit a specified number of families to colonize an agreed-upon territory usually within six years time. Empresarios received performance incentives in the form of land holdings based on the number of settling families. They could also face penalities including termination of the contract and reversion of land holdings to the public domain if they failed to produce enough colonizing families within the period fixed. See http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/empresarios.htm for more information.
E.J. Davis
This controversial Reconstruction governor of Texas was, born in Florida in 1827 and arrived in Texas as a young man in 1848. Davis studied law and served as a state judge in Texas until 1861. A Whig until the mid-1850s, he joined the Democratic party in 1855 and remained a Democrat until after the Civil War despite his opposition to secession. After secession Davis refused the oath of loyalty to the Confederacy, was removed from his judgeship, and fled the state, eventually to Washington where Lincoln authorized Davis and several others to recruit and arm Union troops from Texas. He fought in Texas and elsewhere west of the Mississippi, rising through the officer ranks to brigadier general. After the war Davis entered state politics as a Unionist and Republican serving in two state constitutional conventions, the second (1868-69) as convention president. During the Reconstruction period he consistently supported a program of restricting secessionists' political rights, expanding rights for blacks, and dividing the state. In 1869 he defeated a fellow Republican in a close and disputed race for governor. His administration was marked by great controversy surrounding his program which was attacked by both Democrats and Republicans: law and order enforced by a state police force, a restored militia, protection of the frontier, creation of public schools, internal improvements, and establishment of executive departments regulating immigration and geology. Davis was defeated for reelection in 1873 by Democrat Richard Coke but resisted handing over power until forced from office by a virtual Democratic coup. From 1875 until his death in 1883 Davis headed the state Republican party. In his last years he also ran unsuccessfully for governor and for Congress.
lieutenant governor
First in line to succeed the governor, the office's chief power is its authority and influence in the state Senate.
party identification
A person's psychological attachment or habitual loyalty to a partisan reference group such as the Democratic or Republican party. For most people in the United States, this emotional bond rather than formal membership in a partisan organization is the primary link to organized politics.
party system
Historically enduring electoral arrangements in which two or more parties compete for the support of the electorate and control of government taking each other into account in their behavior in government and in election contests. In the competitive American two-party system in place since 1828 critical elections marking realignments of existing electoral arrangements signal a transition from one party system to another.
political socialization
The life long process by which individuals learn their political orientations, allegiances, and values. Political socialization begins in childhood and continues through adulthood as each individual's political outlook is shaped by groups and institutions such as parents, friends, peers, schools, churches, and the mass media acting as agents of socialization.
populism
Broadly, a term used to describe any political movement having popular backing which is also perceived to be acting in the interests of ordinary people. Historically in the U.S., populist political themes emphasize government's role as an agent of the common man, the farmer and the worker, in his struggles against concentrated wealth and power.
progressive tax
A progressive tax, also called a graduated tax, takes a larger percentage of income from those with larger incomes. The term progressive refers to the way the tax rate progresses from low rates for low incomes to high rates for high incomes. Progressive taxes are usually implemented as income taxes. The federal income tax system is an example since people with more income pay a higher percentage of it in taxes. The opposite of a progressive tax is a regressive tax.
realignment
Historically in the U.S., a significant and enduring shift in the party loyalties of the electorate occuring roughly once a generation. Such shifts have often been associated with a particularly momentous or critical election or sequence of elections in which new issues arise, a new party comes to power, and public policy changes decisively.
Reconstruction
The Civil War was followed by a decade-long period attempting to reverse its physical and political ravages. Between 1865 and 1877 the nation ratified the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments ending slavery and extended citizenship and voting rights to former slaves. Former Confederate states, occupied by Union troops, rewrote their constitutions and were re-admitted to the Union. By 1876, the fever of Reconstruction had run its course and, in settlement of the disputed presidential election of that year, remaining occupying troops were withdrawn, southern politics was given over to southerners (and Democrats) once again, and the regional and racial divisions of war were institutionalized politically for a century.
regular session
A required meeting of the legislature mandated by the constitution and state law. The Texas legislature meets every other year for 140 days beginning in January of odd numbered years.
secretary of state
The only constitutional executive branch official appointed by the governor. This office administers elections and maintains important state records.
social conservatism
A disposition or political outlook that prefers the status quo in social and political policies and practices to significant change. Currently associated chiefly with the Republican Party, social conservatism historically crossed party lines, most notably in the South where until the last quarter of the twentieth century race politics welded conservatives, moderates, and liberals together under the Democratic banner.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
An act of the U.S. Congress intended to reduce discrimination in the exercise of voting rights, particularly discrimination against black Americans in the South. The Act gave the U.S. attorney general broad powers to replace local election officials with federal officials, abolish discriminatory voter tests such as literacy tests, and provide for voter registration using simplified federal procedures in response to evidence of voter discrimination. Congress has since 1965 repeatedly voted to extend this highly effective legislation

Texas Politics:
© 2009, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
3rd Edition - Revision 116