more thinks coming.rnTexas has produced its share of dynamicrnand/or effective governors—JimrnHogg, Allan Shivers, John Connally,rnAnn Richards—but they don’t get thatrnway by the exercise of raw power. ArnTexas governor enjoys minimal power—rnnot even the ability to appoint a cabinet.rnHe may propose, suggest, recommend,rnwheedle, propagandize, but no one hasrnto listen. All he can do, basically, to advancernhis objectives—beyond talk, ofrncourse — is sign and veto bills (he hasrnline-item power) and fill up state commissionsrnwith his supporters. The independentlyrnelected lieutenant governorrnpresides over the 31-member senate,rnshaping legislation with a vigor deniedrnthe governor. This is the sort of pointrnthat badly vexes the reformers, one ofrnwhom (a Republican) complained: “Wernhappen to believe that Texas doesn’trnneed a government that has one of thernweakest governors in the United States.”rnOh, really?rnTexas judges are elected, from trialrncourt to appellate level. Now and again,rnthis causes confusion. Haifa centuryrnago, an exceptionally upright SupremernCourt justice with a hoity-toity-soundingrnname—W. St. John Garwood—was almostrnunseated by a previously unsungrnopponent bearing the down-homernmoniker of Jefferson Smith (the name ofrnthe Jimmy Stewart character in Mr.rnSmith Goes to Washington). Thirty yearsrnlater, vaguely recognizing a then-familiarrnpolihcal name, voters seated on the samerncourt a hugely underqualified and thitherto-rnunkirown lawyer named Don Yarborough.rn(Ralph Yarborough had beenrnthe senior U.S. senator from Texas untilrnhis defeat m 1970.)rnThere has long existed in the state arngood-government lobby that argues forrnappointed judges —at any rate, for appointedrnjudges who “run against theirrnrecord” at the next election —but thernlobby makes no headway. Voters mayrnnot work much at electing their judges,rnbut they appreciate the opportunity.rnLately, judicial control has tipped tornthe Republicans, who are less likely tornchange the present state of affairs than tornstrike a gold medal to Hillary Clinton.rnState government, in other words, despiternpopulation explosion and culturalrnand economic shifts, is not much morernvisible in Texas than it was when thernconstitution was written. Sales taxes—asrnmuch as 8.25 percent in the cities—arernhigh, but there is no income tax. In fact.rnvoters recently put into the constitution arnGordian prohibition of such a tax. Yes,rnthe knot could be sliced through, but onlyrnwith great difficulty and, still less likely,rnpolitical courage.rnWhy the good-government lobbyrnwould think Texans want more visiblernand active government is not easy to discern.rnThe pressure (which is slight indeed)rncomes from Republicans as well asrnDemocrats. The proposed streamliningrn—there would be but 19,000 wordsrnin the new document—results from nornmore than a feeling that we could somehowrndo better with a new constitution.rnOnly because the Democratic chairmanrnof the state house appropriations committeernand an influential Republicanrnsenator sponsor the proposal does it getrnattention. At that, it doesn’t get much.rnThe Republican, Bill Ratliff, says ofrnthe old document, “Our current constitutionrnwas written by people in the 19thrncentury who were terrified of centralizedrngovernment.” He thinks such a judgmentrndamns rather than commends—asrnif, all of a sudden, Texans had openedrntheir eyes to the blessings, previously hidden,rnof centralized government.rnCentralization is, in fact, old hat. Therncentralizers are on the run. Open marketsrnand deregulation are the modernrntrends, batted by backlashes, to be sure,rnas with Germany’s new left-wing governmentrnand our own Justice Department’srnattempt to break up Microsoft.rnThe dynamic creativity of the marketplace,rneven so, is something governmentrncan’t get its arms around. The marketplacernis too fast, too quick-witted, for bureaucrats.rnGovernment rarely has thernslightest idea what consumer-taxpayersrnwant and need. The framers of 1875,rnwho disdained and hated centralization,rnmay have worn, unwittingly, the prophefsrnmantle.rnThe proposed new document has itsrnpoints. It might, for example, serve thernpublic interest to exempt state votersrnfrom the duty of saying yea or nay whenrnsome county wants to abolish a lowgradernoffice. But alterations of this sortrncould be effected just by timely changesrnin the present constitution. The wisdomrnof the ages remains in the yellowed oldrndocument that guides Texas’s destiny. Arnrural sage who holds an important nationalrnecclesiastical office got it right in arnletter he recently wrote me:rnTexans don’t want government.rnWe damn sure don’t want efficientrngovernment. The taxpayers in therncounty I came from were veryrnclear about what they wanted.rnThey wanted low taxes, good roads,rnfair schools, low taxes, vicious lawrnenforcement, and low taxes.rnDadgum if their own politicians arerngoing to talk Texans into surrenderingrnsuch signal, and un-20th-century, blessings!rnBill Murchison is a nationally syndicatedrncolumnist for the Dallas Morning News.rnLetter FromrnMichiganrnby Michael JordanrnMe and Mecosta:rnStudying With Russell KirkrnRussell Kirk played a prominent role inrnfounding and promoting modern conservatismrnin America —not neoconservatism,rnbut the more traditional varietyrnwhich emphasizes culture and traditionrnmore than political programs and economics.rnHe is known as the author ofrnThe Conservative Mind, The Roots ofrnAmerican Order, The Age of Eliot, andrnother “conservative” studies and as thernfounding editor of Modem Age and thernUniversity Bookman. I knew him in thisrncapacity, too. But I also knew him personallyrnfor over 1 5 years, having beenrnone among the ranks of students and assistantsrnwho worked and studied underrnhim at Piety Hill, his ancestral home inrnMecosta, Michigan. It was my good fortunernto study with him for two years backrnin the early 1980’s and to continue a personalrnassociation with him until hisrndeath in 1994. With countiess others, Irnremember Dr. Kirk for his literaryrnachievement, but I also remember andrnhonor him for the remarkable place hernand his wife Annette created for hundredsrnof students, assistants, and visitors.rnI first met Dr. Kirk in the late 1970’s atrnIntercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI)rnsummer schools held at Rosemont College,rnPennsylvania, and GeorgetownrnUniversity. At one of these events, Dr.rnAPRIL 1999/35rnrnrn