Accountability Is a Two-Way Street

By Robert Schwartz

As civil trial lawyers, we protect the civil rights afforded all citizens by the Texas and U.S. Constitutions.  We seek to hold those who have caused injuries and damages responsible under the Texas civil laws.  We recognize that very few things happen without then being someone’s fault.  We have people call us every day wanting to hold others responsible for the injuries and damages they have caused.  It is about accountability.  Those very same people who call us, though, have to understand that accountability is a two-way street.  Specifically, if those people supported tort reform and voted for executive, judicial and legislative candidates whose platforms included tort reform, they are responsible for changes in Texas laws that cap damages and restrict their right to redress these wrongs in the civil courthouse.  Only after these changes affect them personally do they understand the ramifications of their actions.

When electing public officials, you want to research each candidate and make sure he or she is going to represent your interests and protect your rights.  If you are a straight ticket voter, you will find some of the party candidates’ positions are more tolerable than others.  You may not like all of their positions, but you may be able to live with them.  For example, what would you think if you were looking at a candidate’s positions and saw the following?

  1. They are against a strong, standardized, national identification system for driver’s licenses and nondriver identification cards as requested by the Department of Homeland Security, but they are for requiring a driver’s license to be presented to vote.
  2. They are against the use of red-light cameras to make our already busy and dangerous intersections safer.
  3. They are for making the act of performing a marriage a felony if the people married are of the same sex?
  4. They are for requiring a woman who wants an abortion to look at a sonogram of her fetus prior to the procedure.
  5. They are against the legalization of any game of chance of any kind, even lottery tickets.
  6. They are against providing health care for our senior citizens and others who cannot afford to pay for it.
  7. They are against rewarding our top 10 percent of high school graduates with automatic college admissions, so alumni parents can get their children into the colleges they attended.

Most of us would find it hard to understand what is wrong with strengthening homeland security, using red-light cameras to make our roads safer, buying lottery tickets, taking care of our senior citizens by making sure they have access to health care and rewarding a high school student’s hard work with automatic admission to Texas universities.  Similarly, most of us do not want the government telling a woman what to do with her body, or face with jail time a priest, rabbi or judge who has wed same-sex couples.  Who is to say that politician’s next effort won’t be to make it a felony to wed interracial or mixed-religion couples?

Accountability and responsibility are good things, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  As we have to be able to hold others accountable for their wrongs, we have to hold ourselves accountable for electing candidates who abridge or take away our rights.

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