If America's Future is Texas - Are We In Trouble?

Lawrence Wright's latest essay for The New Yorker, "America's Future is Texas" is a must read. If you haven't yet - go here and catch up.

Don't worry I'll wait.




At more than 25 printed pages - double sided - it's a long essay but worth the time.  The captions are admittedly harsh with comments such as "... a recurrent crop of crackpots and ideologues has fed its reputation for proud know-nothingism and retrograde thinking." But at times, the target of these comments have been equally critical of their less-zealous counterparts in the legislature - all's fair right?

If you can read past the broad characterizations and Wright's obvious opposition to some of the most controversial legislation of the session - it's a great aerial view of the current state of Texas politics and how we got here. No matter what side of the aisle (or party) you sit on.

The state was always culturally conservative, religious, and militaristic, but a strain of pragmatism kept it from being fully swept up in racism and right-wing ideology.

The article walks the reader through the rise of the Republican Party in the Texas Legislature including the drama around redistricting which created a model for other conservative states to create "car door districts" (a term I learned in North Carolina), touches on the coup to overthrow Speaker Craddick for Speaker Straus (which I watched from sidelines while working in Houston city politics oh so long ago) and then launches into the madness that was the Travis County GOP last year.

One of my favorite bits was Wright's comparison of 1930's Governor W. Lee (Pappy) O'Daniel to modern day Donald Trump, citing "Radio was his Twitter. His only real platform was to stir things up." Gave me some comfort that this too may pass.

Context was provided around some of the bigger debates both this year and from past sessions including former Representative Suzanna Hupp's personal and very "Texan" reasons for fighting as she did for concealed carry legislation, as well as Dr. Zerwas' schooling of freshman Representative Brisco Cain on the House floor regarding the true meaning of palliative care in the 85th.

Inside baseballs get thrown around in references to Michael Quinn Sullivan, the newly formed Freedom Caucus and events from the 85th session like the Mother's Day Massacre.

In a nutshell - a must read. All 19,000 words of it. As with any article or essay - take it all from the perspective with which it's written. The Lt. Governor isn't interviewed here and Speaker Straus smells like a defiant little rose throughout.

So is Texas really setting up the entire nation for failure? Is Texas even failing? It's all in the eye of the beholder. If you ask the Tyler Morning Telegraph The New Yorker is way off base. 

Continue the conversation by listening to a feature about this article here, via the Texas Standard. I'd love to know what you think of this essay.