Description of Texas political culture
Texas political culture comprises of individualistic and traditionalistic elements of politics that have been witnessed in Texas (George et al, p 368).The culture has demonstrated business dominance, provincialism and a strong one party tradition. Based on the culture, important decisions on how the state should be run are made by the political elites in Texas. Classical liberalism whereby people have faith in the states’ free market economy (James, p 52). Due to the support it gives to moral and traditional values, the Texas political culture promotes social conservatism and respect for the rights of the ordinary people. The culture favors pro-business policies, low taxes as well as low government services.
The key elements of the culture are populism, classical liberalism and social conservatism. Classical liberalism advocates for a free market economy, individual liberty, religious tolerance, limited government and respect for civil liberties (Razeen, p17). Social conservatism demands for the respect of the traditional authority figures such as the military, business and religious leaders. This culture embraces traditional values as well as religious practices and beliefs. The need for the government to put into consideration the wellbeing of the ordinary people is emphasized. The populism element supports popular elections for leaders who are meant to hold top executive positions (James, p 64).
How the Texas political culture developed
The dominance of the Democratic Party in Texas after the civil war led to the popularity of only one single political party for over a century). The single party dominance resulted to limited political debates which in turn constrained the evolution of the culture to include other political parties. Popular elections to appoint leaders led to the development of populism. Economic development in Texas played a major role in the development of the political culture. Texas since the late 19th century embraced policies that increased prosperity and liberty. The commercial class was empowered politically which made entrepreneurship and economic development critical. By 1880, Texas ranked first in cotton growing and livestock farming for many years boosted economic development .In addition, the oil industry made a great contribution to the economy. Economic growth in the state improved business and this attracted many business leaders and investors. The business leaders were highly regarded and respected leading to the development of social conservatism.
The traditionalistic aspect of the political culture was introduced in Texas by the Deep South immigrants who were both pro-slavery and pro-secession. Traditionalistic aspect of the culture was characterized by social elites taking part in politics (Kathleen, p 59). Leaders in Texas supported the respect for individual rights and non-interference of the government with the rights. Since the state government in Texas was expected to refrain from any interference with individual liberty, classical liberalism in the culture developed. Religious tolerance in Texas developed was due to the settlement of people of both Protestants and Catholics in the state. Before Texas was annexed by the US, it was a republic.Furthermore; Texas had been a Mexico’s territory. In 1820s and 1830s, a large number of immigrants settled in Texas and although many Mexicans were Catholics, the Mexican authorities did not stop immigrants who were non-Catholics to settle in Texas. There was freedom of religion. Furthermore, the 1836 Texan constitution in Article 5, section 1 called for the respect of religious leaders. The development of religious tolerance in political culture can be attributed to these factors.
Role of Texas political culture in America
The Texas culture has had some implications on the policies and activities undertaken by the state and federal governments. Low taxes and low services are advocated for by the cultures’ support for free market solutions, limited government and the aversion to taxes. Due to the support of low taxes, low services, political leaders fail to advocate for an increase in taxes especially the income tax. This issue has been endured in both Republican and Democratic state governance. The demand that the state government provide services to the people despite the low taxes has led to the inability of the state to fully support core public services. As a result, the government has supported the need to make fundamental changes to the system of school funding and the tax structure (John, p 76). Due to the periodic budget shortfalls experienced Governance in Texas is characterized by a low level of state services which is marked by a hostile altitude towards progressive taxation especially the income tax (Mark, 89). The states governance embraces a social policy that is culturally conservative in areas such as religion and education.
The need to retain the traditional and religious values has made it difficult for the people to accept entertainment that goes against the values. For instance, a television show, movie or song that is not appealing to the public based on the culture receives rejection. The media ,marketers and advertisers ensure that their work strategies go hand in hand with the accepted values. As compared to other states, the institutions of governance have continued to experience change at a slow pace because the Texas constitution which was designed in 1875 based on the culture sometimes make it difficult for the government to ensure that coordinated and decisive actions are taken .There is great emphasis put on people electing their own political leaders due to the populism element of the culture(James,p 45).The constitution also encourages popular election of leaders who take top executive positions. The voters go to the polls much frequently and this leads to voter fatigue and depressing voter turn out .Through the dispersal of political authority, there is lack of support for a strong government and the state politics are dominated by politically related business interests.
A political culture is a framework of beliefs, values, and habits of behavior that relate to politics and government that are shared by a certain group of people. The individualistic nature of the Texas political culture is shown by the faith in individual initiative, opposition to a big government and the support for private business. The traditionalist aspect of Texas politics is seen in the social and economic conservatism, low level of voter turnout as well as the domination of one political party in the state politics. This culture influences the society, politics and governance in US and Texas.
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