“They’re the rabble army, they’ve come from every side,” rings the short-lived UK Referendum Party’s anthem. “They’re the rabble army singin’ ‘Let the People Decide!’”
It is, admittedly a folksy and campy tune released in 1997 as part of the political party’s official campaign to elect lawmakers who would allow British citizens the chance to vote on the nature of the UK’s membership in the European Union.
But despite the catchiness of their song, the UK Referendum Party was annihilated in the one election it contested—failing to win and hold even a single seat in Parliament.
However, anyone who has watched the news or opened a newspaper knows that though it might have taken almost 20 years, ultimately British citizens did get that referendum. And given the chance, a majority of them voted to leave the EU—kicking off so-called “Brexit” negotiations in the process.
Cool song, cool story, but what the heck has this got to do with Texas?
Because Texas has a “Rabble Army” of its own. And they vote!
While most Texans’ ballots this Election Day had only seven amendments to the Texas Constitution—all of which were approved, by the way—several areas of the state had their own ballot initiatives:
Voters in Dallas County had a decision to sustain or abolish a deservedly maligned bureaucracy known as Dallas County Schools, which, despite the name did not educate a single child.
In Ector County, voters were asked to approve a sales tax increase, a school bond, and a school tax increase. And they rejected all three of them.
Texans in Brown, Comanche, and Erath Counties had a decision on whether or not to vote themselves into Ranger College’s taxing district—a decision that would raise their already high property taxes even more.
Combined, 97 percent of citizens in those counties voted against the increase. Less than 500 total citizens voted in favor.
None of these victories were won by fancy campaigns or glossy mailers, they were won by citizens.
The folks in Dallas and in Brownwood organized themselves and spent a little money opposing the ballot items to be sure, but more importantly and effectively, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
They organized themselves into Facebook groups, they block-walked their neighborhood, and called through their church directory. They wrote letters to their newspapers, called into radio stations, and harassed their elected officials.
And because of their efforts, they the citizens, they the taxpayers, they the rabble army carried the day.
Contrast this with Harris County where not enough citizens stepped up and went to work. Those who did step up found themselves outnumbered and outgunned. They found themselves with abysmal turnout and were defeated across the board on Election Day.
Looking at the numbers the contrast is clear.
In Brown County alone, more than 6,000 citizens turned out—a number only about 1,500 short of the county’s record-setting turnout in the 2016 Republican Primary—to vote against a proposed 11-cent per $100 valuation tax increase. Meanwhile, it only took 61 ballots, out of 114 cast, to pass Crosby ISD’s $109.5 million bond.
Though less extreme, it was a similar story all across Harris County’s elections.
So, what is the message from this?
The message is Texas’ rabble army does win victories—when it takes to the field.
For those looking to suit up and go to battle, the tools and tactics employed to oppose Dallas County Schools and Ranger College aren’t unique. Indeed, they’re easily replicated, easily taught, and ready for deployment to all grassroots citizens willing to step up and lead.
If that sounds like you then pick up a torch, get active in your community, and join us on the battlefield!