The impact of culture on Texan politics
In order to understand the political environment in the state of Texas it is very important that we first understand the Texan culture. This is because a community’s culture has a major impact on the society’s political environment. The plantation culture of the Old South and the patron system are two important cultural dimensions which have shaped politics in Texas. These cultures gave rise to view that the main role of the government was in the preservation of law and order in society and that the responsibility of solving specific local issues was that of local councils. These values continue to exist and influence politics in Texas today. Scholars support their argument by pointing to how the voter turnout in Texas is lower than that of other parts of the United States.
Texas a traditionally Democratic state
With a few exceptions Texas was a Democratic state voting throughout the years until 1972. Republican support was limited to a few small pockets of communities located in the Texas Hill Country which opposed slavery. Over the years the state has produced a number of prominent politicians such as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Vice-President John Nance Garner, speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and Senator Ralph Yarborough all of which were Democrats. Interestingly however the Democrats in Texas lacked any real unity and were divided into three groups of conservatives, moderates and liberals.
The growth of the Republicans
The rise of the Republican Party’s influence in the state of Texas began in the 1960’s and originated in the rural communities of Dallas and Houston. The subsequent presidential victories of George H. W. Bush and congressman John Tower are an excellent example of this growth in Republican power. On a national level the two major political parties of the U.S. became increasingly divided with Democrats adopting more and more liberal outlooks to politics and Republicans becoming increasingly conservative in their approach. This played a major role in the rise of Republican power in the state of Texas which was and continues to be conservative as a whole with few exceptions such as the city of Austin which residents of other parts of Texas sarcastically label as the “People’s Republic of Austin”. Conservative Democrats began to leave their party to join forces with the increasingly more conservative Republicans. The situation has resulted in many Democrats believing that they can no longer win in the state of Texas. When Ann Richards lost her position as Governor of Texas to George W. Bush it ended a 120 year era of Democratic control over the governorship. Later in 2002 the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives yet again showing the growing power of Republicans in Texas.
The situation as it exists currently shows Republicans in majority at all Texas statewide offices, both houses of the legislature and with a clear majority in the congressional delegation. With a few exceptions (such as the city of Austin) Texas today is firmly in Republican control.