Spring 2004 Midterm Essay

1631 words - 7 pages

United States citizens often believe that politics are only for the elite with superior educations and grand amounts of money. The authors of Texas Politics Individuals Making a Difference suggest otherwise in numerous occasions. Our constitution was drafted so that power is distributed not only amongst government, but also amongst citizens. The "peaceful, typical" citizens of Hickory Creek, Texas were underestimated by their city government. When the Hickory Creek Council was considering an indoor-outdoor soccer facility, Blue Sky Soccer Arena, the citizens quickly showed their concern by attending the council meeting. After the plan was approved by the council, the residents became ...view middle of the document...

Lynda French, a loyal employee of IBM, realized that her husband's pension was going to be cut, according to a new plan, designed to save IBM some money. Her pension was also in danger except that she was given the choice of which plan to follow. Her husband, on the other hand, was not given the choice because of his age. She knew that what IBM was doing was wrong and that she was not the only one who felt in such way. She decided to do something about it since her and her husband's lifestyle, after retirement, was at stake. Like the citizens of Hickory Creek, Lynda also researched the issues at hand in depth. She turned towards the internet in order to create a website that would help inform others looking for similar information. From French's website grew IBM Employee Benefits Action Coalition (IEBAC), an organization that connected all IBM and other company employees with the same problem together. The website was able to get the organization enough attention and publicity that it was able to reach the California Public Employees Retirement System (CALPERS). They revealed their plans to vote their 9.2 million shares of stock towards a resolution that would force IBM to allow all workers to choose which pension plan to use. Although CALPERS was not able to get all votes, they got close enough to trigger IBM to modify their plan and provide a few thousand employees some pension options. "Little of this would have occurred without the spark and organizational drive of Lynda French."( P.97) Interest groups are a great way to influence public's opinions without being elected into office.Sometimes an interest group can begin with one issue in mind and develop into another. Such is the case of the G.I. Forum, started by Dr. Hector P. Garcia. He was a medical examiner for the Veterans Administration in Corpus Christi. He noticed that his veteran patients (Mexican Americans) would have to travel all the way to San Antonio for hospital care. Many of them were either too sick or had to miss work to go. The problem wasn't that there weren't any hospitals around; the nearby Naval Hospital just wouldn't treat them since they were veterans instead of military personnel. He got together with many of his veteran patients and successfully protested and was able to get Naval Hospital to care for the veterans. The G.I. Forum of the United Stated met regularly to address other issues. They were able to take in hand the issues of illiteracy, unemployment, and scholarships for the needy amongst Hispanic Veterans. A Mexican American family was refused the services of a funeral home when their infantryman's body was returned. By helping this family protest to give their beloved an adequate burial, the G.I. Forum became much more of an organization fighting discrimination against Hispanics after World War II. The attention that the Longoria case received promoted Garcia's organization even more. His efforts were acknowledged by three different presidents; John F....

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