National Public Radio has been doing a multi-part investigative report into political corruption in South Texas, and on July 7th, KERA (the Dallas-area public radio and TV station) published a transcript of the segment of the report focusing on the role that politiqueras (which could roughly be translated as canvassers) play in securing votes for public office.
An interesting question for which I have yet to see a satisfying social-science answer is this: Why is the time-honored tradition of buying votes now engendering so much resistance in South Texas (as evidenced by public organizing against the practice, more active law enforcement, and a spike in criminal prosecutions and convictions)? Does this signal a shift in political culture, voting demographics, economic factors, or (likely) a complex mix of many factors?
One huge unexamined elephant in the room is this – the economy of rural South Texas is profoundly affected by the fact that it sits squarely on the most lucrative drug-smuggling routes into the United States; the immensely wealthy organized Mexican cartels could buy and sell all the local governments of South Texas many times over. To what extend must elected officials proceed in accommodating a rapprochement with cartel interests while also competing with each other? Does the restive nature of inter-cartel warfare alter the treatment of politiqueras and vote-buying practices generally?
I don’t have the answers to these questions, but others might. Let me know what you think.