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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Texas' Political Future

Texas' Political Future
    There are three commonly recognized political subcultures present in America today. Texas is considered by many to be a hybrid of traditionalistic and individualistic political subculture.  Texas' culture reflects its history and an evolution to the system it employs today is rooted primarily in the individualistic notion with a touch of traditionalism. The third subculture is moralistic and one of the founding cultures of America.

    The moralistic political subculture that originated in the United States was exported from Great Britain and is found primarily in the New England states today and likely in the Federal system as well depending on the faction that is in control. This culture seeks to promote government that is good and beneficial to the citizenry. It is a culture that believes that government builds schools, provides programs and services like welfare assistance and healthcare. The moralistic culture is more likely to be  funded by a progressive and expansive tax system with strict enforcement. A moralistic culture provides laws, rules, and regulations for many aspects of life and business. It is found in highly concentrated populations where the strong arm of Government can easily exact its influence. To those living on the frontier this was a foreign and alien concept. Citizens living in such political cultures are more active at all levels of government. Perhaps out of necessity. Because so much benefit is derived from government in a moralistic political climate; to not be active is to give up a great portion of interest in obtaining or directing such benefit and guarding what property and liberty is left. 

    Texas, having long operated outside the sphere of New York or Washington and never having been controlled or settled by London, did not have the moralistic culture seeded into its people. Instead, it was the conquistadors, the Catholic church, and the subjects of the Spanish empire that settled much of the southwest region of the present day United States and brought with them an already failing system. Spain, at a time when Great Britain was coming into its prime, sputtered and was collapsing. The collection and transport of gold was no longer the only means to fund a nation and generate wealth. Systems that started to drift away from mercantilism and into capitalism were taking the world by storm, and in less than the one-hundred years after American Independence, Great Britain would see to it that the sun never set on its empire. Spain lost New Spain and much of the New World and in its place came to power a series of corrupt and controlling families and kleptocracies. Americans, especially those who had fallen on hard times, were lured by the prospect of land grants from Mexico to settle Texas and create a buffer zone between Mexico and the expanding United States. 

    To understand this clash, between the Texians who came from states and territories on the frontier and the elites in Mexico who established absolute rule where possible, is to understand the political system and culture that Texas enjoys to this day. The Spanish and then the Mexicans to a lesser extent were very traditionalistic in their administration and governing of the New World. The monied, the elites, and the well connected established government and sought to install governments that enriched their coffers and expanded their power. Citizens in these governments rarely had any input into the organization, legislation, or adjudication foisted on them. They were merely consumers, work forces, revenue sources and able bodied men for armies and settlements. This culture was also evident in the Confederacy. The plantation owners and their hand picked lobbyists held great sway over the entirety of the populace within their sphere of influence. 

    The individualistic culture, which probably best describes the vast majority of Texas' political culture today, was brought by the Anglo settlers who were offered the promise of land and a new life as long as they would be a friendly buffer to the encroaching United States and the Native Americans. Those who arrived were accustomed to little or no government involvement in their affairs. They saw little to no benefit to the litany of taxes, rules, and regulations imposed on their homesteads and farms. They believed government should be limited to securing the frontier and not much else. In fact it would be such a belief that would lead to the famous "Come and Take It" cannon shot that rang out the start towards Texas' independence from Mexico. A Mexico that sought to exact punishment on the growing Anglo population by taking away a cannon that kept the Native Americans at bay and the frontier secure.

    Today and into the future, with the great growth of Texas and the influx of diverse political populations from California, Oregon, and the New England states, Texas is in danger of losing the political culture that has become the basis for attracting its new citizens. With the addition of legal and illegal immigration from foreign countries and increased urbanization, Texas more than ever needs to put its brand into the fire and sear its culture into newly minted Texans. I think that it is Texas' culture that has led it through some of the toughest times in recent American history as it stands apart economically, politically, and culturally from power outside of its borders. So much so, that the Federal government actively seeks to punish Texas through its statements and policies. Texas along with other states that share similar values, are under political attack from foes in D.C.  Texas and like minded states have shown that limited government and economic freedom are a catalyst for growth, opportunity and innovation. Governments across the world, and even in our own United States fear one vote more than any other, and that is the vote people make with their feet, their money, their property and their business. Without people, government can't exist, and when governments run out of people to tax and don't run out of people who draw payroll, benefits, and distributions, they will falter. They will fail spectacularly. Failure that is seen today in Greece, Portugal, Spain, and to a growing extent the E.U. Failure that is seen in D.C., California, New York, Michigan and the "rust belt". Texas' own brand of political culture, its identity and its people which seek to live freely and away from the expired promises of good government lights the way forward, and it is ours to lose.

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