In Dallas County, I blame the Democrats. In Tarrant and Collin counties, I blame the Republicans. In total, I blame every single reader who ever has voted the straight party line. For good measure, I’ll even blame the Libertarians, although they seem like innocent sorts.

In 2008, 60 percent of all votes cast in Dallas County were straight-ticket Democratic. (Republicans, you were almost as bad: 39 percent of all votes were straight-ticket GOP.) In 2006, by virtue of the straight-ticket voters, Democrats swept into office an entire slate. I suppose that would be cause for celebration for a Democrat, if being a Democrat were all that mattered. But it is not.

D’Metria Benson is—thanks to straight-ticket voting—the presiding judge at County Court at Law No. 1. Judge Benson ranked 145th out of 145 judges in the 2009 Judicial Evaluation Poll conducted by the Dallas Bar Association. Her overall performance approval came in at 17 percent. Only 21 percent of lawyers thought their clients could get an impartial hearing in her court.

By comparison, the judge she defeated in 2006, Russell Roden, had a 91 percent Dallas Bar approval rating. An overwhelming 90 percent of lawyers thought their clients would get an impartial hearing.

Russell Roden is running to regain his place on the bench this year. Democrats, do Dallas an immense favor. Vote for the Republican.

In Tarrant County, it is the GOP that dominates with straight-ticket voting. For County Probate Court No. 2, they elected Pat Ferchill. This judge appears to have turned his probate court into a racket, holding ex parte hearings with favored attorneys, terminating guardianship rights of parents over their disabled children, and taking advantage of the elderly. Fort Worth Weekly and the Texas Tribune have done an excellent job of tracking the judge’s suspect rulings.

When no Democrat ran against Ferchill, long-time Fort Worth attorney Bob Shelton took up the cause and put his name on the ballot as a Libertarian. Republicans, do Fort Worth a favor. Vote for the Libertarian.

Collin County government has descended into chaos because of straight-ticket voting. Republicans are so entrenched that they have turned county government into a personal playpen. The incoming district clerk—no Democrat stands a chance, so none ran—has already been indicted, as have five of her cohorts. The district attorney, who has called himself “the most powerful man in Collin County,” is under grand jury investigation.

Collin County Republicans, I know you are more interested in national politics than county shenanigans. But local government is where the rubber meets the road—and yours stinks to high heaven. Tea Party activists, I challenge you. Keep your passion and enthusiasm, and in two years direct your newfound energy toward putting candidates on the primary ballot to challenge these so-called Republicans who have turned your county government into a three-ring circus.

One-party government does not work. We do not have to look to North Korea or Cuba to prove the point. Straight-ticket voting is an invitation to corruption and incompetence. Why should dishonest or lazy county politicians worry when they know they will be re-elected no matter how badly they perform or how corrupt they become?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And the shame of our local government is those Democrats and Republicans who vote to keep the worst in office by casting a straight-ticket vote of sheer ignorance.

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