The state of Texas is both diverse in population and immense in size. One cannot judge it as a component of a larger entity, but rather as an entity itself. The fundamental socio-political struggle the state is enduring at this point in history is the classic struggle between the rural and the urban. This struggle has been going on for some time, and has been examined in commentary since before the Johnson administration. Like all struggles it has its own peculiar evolution.
One could say that the conflict has its modern origins in the assassination of President Kennedy, which occurred in Dallas, 1963. Kennedy is said to have referred to Dallas, as well as the state as a whole as, ‘nut country.’ At that time Texas was still captive in its entirety to what I call the ‘cowboy ethos.’ The cowboy ethos was a leftover from the days of frontier settlement. It required a strict ethic of self-reliance. This self-reliance in turn required a strict intolerance of the collectivism inherent in urban culture.
After Kennedy’s death this ethos was shattered, but not destroyed. The assassination of America’s youthful president sparked in Texans, particularly Dallasites, a sort of neurosis. This neurosis was less about guilt, and more about identity.
What is modern Texas? Can we reconcile the frontier with the post-industrial reality? 50 years on this struggle has yet to see its conclusion.
‘God, Guns and Guts,’ though not necessarily coined for the Lone Star State is still a fitting motto even today. And yet it isn’t really representative of the whole. As I stated previously, Texas is itself a country, and should be dissected as such. The only problem is that the usual lines of demarcation don’t apply. The rural psychology continuously seeps into the urban. As far as socio-political expression is concerned, this interceding is expressed in that phenomenon called suburban. Texas is rife with suburbs.
And this simple/complex dynamic is at the core of Texas’ Public Policy.
One can learn a lot by looking at the representatives that respective districts send to power centers to assumptively express and work their will. Working in Austin at the state capitol is to be one of many neurons bouncing about in the central nervous system of the body politic.
The following series of commentary that will follow will begin with Texas’ big cities, which have, due to population, the upper hand in all three branches of state government.