Liberalism in Texas politics
Texas politics and ideology can be distinguished by the mixture of three major ideological trends. According to Dabney, they are: “classical liberalism, social conservatism and populism” (Dabney 45). The basic political significance of classical liberalism is positioned on political activities that allow the individual liberty at the same time as the liberties of others are not extremely limited. Opposition often uses classical liberal ideas to influence on government in order to achieve social purposes. (Dabney 45)
Modern Texas is very complex and diverse and it is hard to compose a single list fully characterizing this home of large and various population. Millions people across a large territory are different by origins, activities and economic interests. Complexity of various social, geographic, economical and historical factors determines the way how people of Texas think of themselves. An average Texan can be described as individualistic, independent, simple, tough, upright and proud; materialistic but moralistic; sometimes insolent and boastful but religious; they don’t trust the government but respect authorities. (Dabney 23)
In Texas history classical liberalism was a base for entrepreneurship and the market economy supporting religious tolerance and civil liberties. Mavericks are admired and popular in this ideological stream. In modern Texas political history the term “classical liberalism” is equivalent to “low taxes, low services”. Raising taxes is not a popular measure and supporting it a politic finds himself in a very difficult political position. In debates the phrase “raising taxes” is very close to the term “political suicide”. (Dollinger 2)
Classical liberalism was instilled by Mexicans aspiring to achieve independence. They recently came through intensive struggle against the Catholic Church and the Spanish monarchy. The Mexicans who struggled against Santa Anna got great freethinking character to Texas political background. One remarkable Mexican Lorenzo de Zavala was sent in 1833 by Santa Anna as a Minister to France. However, later he realized that Santa Anna would not hold up the Mexican Constitution of 1824 and decided to oppose as a Texan. (Dollinger 4)
Classical liberalism deeply respects individual freedom based on a faith in natural rights beyond influence of government. But the term of “classical liberalism” in Texas meaning the individual right to “do your own thing” is combined with social conservatism. In America liberalism was well-accepted because of little opposition to the liberal ideas.
At the current time all statewide offices in Texas are controlled by Republicans. This Republican voting trend was used also during the elections of president. This characterizes Texas as one of the most Republican state in USA. President George W. Bush and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison are Texas Republicans and they developed into the most influential Republicans in the country. (Dollinger 7)
However despite general prevalence of Republicans there are several cities and regions strongly influenced by Democrats. The capital of the country, Austin, is a Democratic fortress and a center of durative political activism. The Rio Grande Valley and El Paso with large per sent of Latino in population both are followers of the Democratic Party. Cities like Houston, San Antonio and Dallas are loyal to Democrats at the same time as their suburbs typically hold up Republicans. During the 2006 elections the Democratic Party achieved big success by winning five House seats in general elections and one in an earlier special selection.
Dabney, Virginius. Liberalism in the South. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1932.
Dollinger, Marc. Quest for Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism in Modern American. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.