It’s not very controversial to say that Texas has its own unique political culture, or its own unique culture for that matter. As a non-native I am sometimes dumbstruck by the pride, bordering on arrogance, that many Texans have for their state and culture. It is baffling. Nevertheless the state does provide an interesting case study in political culture. The Texas Politics Project out of the University of Texas describes Texas’s political culture as a combination of “classical liberalism, social conservatism, and populism.” The classical liberalism is summed up by them as “low taxes, low services” which is a refreshing way of stating what the consequences of the low tax regime favored by contemporary conservatives are. However, some of the economic populism (which is also historically prominent in Texas) that is enjoying its moment in both the campaign’s of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump has also seeped its way into Texas politics, or at least is reflected in Texas public opinion polls. The Texas Politics Project conducts roughly three major polls a year sampling Texan’s opinions on a variety of state and national topics. The most recent poll from February has some very interesting findings. For example, a strong plurality (44%) state that economic inequality is a major problem in the country
An even greater percentage of Texas think their should be an increase in the Federal minimum wage with 62% favoring an increase and only 27% opposed (11% don’t know or don’t have an opinion).
And what to me is the most interesting result out of them all is when Texan’s were polled and asked “To reduce income inequality, the government needs to be…” 37% said the government needs to be more involved!
Now the results to other questions in the poll fit broadly with the “classical liberalism/ social conservatism/populism” narrative of Texas political culture so it is not as if Texas is on its way to transforming itself into Sweden or something like that. However, there are inroads that progressives can make into Texas, especially on economic issues, that can bear fruit.