Tuesday, June 06, 2017
All hail the mite-y state
I would not tell you not to read Ezra Klein's article at Vox about political identity, because he actually addresses the issues involved, rather than just talking vaguely about them and assuming you agree with his preference (the bane of much of what is on the internet).
But my summation is this: Texas has been a one-party state since Reconstruction. It was a Democratic state, until it became a Republican state about 30 years ago (or less). It didn't really change politically: it is and always was moss-bound conservative, despite producing John Nance Garner (FDR's V-P) and LBJ and Mr. Sam Rayburn (none of whom were as liberal as Ted Kennedy, but none of whom were as right-wing as Louie Gohmert). So the fundamental politics didn't change; but the political identity did. Which says something about fundamental politics and political identity that Klein doesn't get around to; but one thing at a time.
I have always been a Democrat, and always will be (thus proving the thesis of Klein's article, in my own small way), but I have always been a liberal Democrat, a very odd duck in the Texas pond (what can I say, I'm a child of the '70's that way. If you knew Texas politics in the '70's, you'd understand what I mean.). But political identity in this state has always been with one-party, and it's always been as decisive as where you go to church on Sunday (i.e., an identifier of who you are, and especially if you are the "right kind"). Most of my family has no idea how deeply I identify as a Democrat. It would force them to decide whether I was still worth inviting to family gatherings, or not.
What Klein's article tells me is not so new as it's presented as being, but something I've been seeing for a long time: the dominant culture in this country is not the East Coast or California: it's Texas. You want to know what America is like, culturally or politically: look to Texas. Not the stereotype from Hollywood (that's the desert southwest and Monument Valley, not Texas); nor the white enclave of ethnic purity (apparently that's Oregon). Houston is the most ethnically diverse city in the country, and the fourth largest. Local politics in Dallas and Houston and San Antonio is in some ways more liberal and progressive than in Austin. There is a lot more to the state than you probably think; but the political culture mirrors the national political scene. Not that we are all Republicans in America, but most of us who care about American politics identify strongly with one party, and we do it as a way of sorting out who's right, and who's NOK.
Which is probably why we don't talk politics too much, in Texas or anywhere else in the lower 48; not if we don't want to start a fight.
Posted by Rmj at 10:31 AM