By Nathan Barton
I have a bit of a long-term relationship with Texas. I had ancestors who lived in Texas two and a half centuries before it was named, others who came when it was still a Mexican state, others who came when it was a republic, and some who came after it was admitted to the American Union. They all came to Texas (and stayed) because it was a land of great opportunity and freedom. And like other Texians and Texicans and Texans, they fought for that freedom when it was threatened, whether the threat came from Madrid or Ciudad Mexico or the District of Columbia, or Austin. Sometimes they lost, but usually they won, at least for a time.
Texas took some really hard hits during and after the War Between the States, when it came to the aid of its Southern brethren both because the FedGov was pushing and because of ties of family and economic matters (including, sadly, slavery). It was occupied and punished by Union troops, by Congress. (Few members of the GOP today in Texas are willing to remember that it was Radical Republicans (really, the only kind of GOP in those days) that converted Texas to a colony, even a penal colony, for more than a decade.) It was converted from a constitutional republic into a constitutional democracy. It had a new Constitution forced down its throat by carpetbaggers, and though it has been amended hundreds of times, it is still inferior to either the original Republican constitution or the first State constitution. Texas has paid hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars as a result.
It also meant that Texas was weakened critically even while it was converted from a poor, subsistence economy with a veneer of cotton and cattle into a wealthy technocratic nation built on oil, natural gas, and the industries drawn by those resources. The corruption of the state government of carpetbagger days in Reconstruction was replaced by an even MORE corrupt state government led by the Democracy and its machine politics, in which government accrued more and more power and wealth, and the best way to prosper (even to survive) was to go along with the state and federal governments. Texas supplied fresh buckets and barrels of blood in the War with Spain, the perfidy of the Great War, and then the Raw Deal-triggered American entry into World War Two.
At the same time, the Federal presence grew and grew, and more and more land and wealth went from Texas to the Feds, while the new immigrants from other states (inside and outside the USA) were more and more liberal, more and more dependent on government, and more and more willing to sell still more of Texas’ spirit and wealth and heritage to others. And converted native Texans to their evil as well: consider Lyndon B. Johnson (now accused once again publicly of masterminding his boss’s removal from office 51 years ago), Everett Dirksen, and a whole raft of recent Texas politicians. For decades this pull was fought by Texan religion and tradition, but that was eventually overwhelmed.
Today, courtesy of Bush and others, Texas is supposedly a “Red State” filled with zeal for the GOP and conservatism, but that is NOT the conservatism or old-liberalism of the founders like Austin and Houston and Crockett and Jones. And at the same time, the swelling influx of new immigrants, unwilling to adopt and adapt to American culture, much less Texan culture, push and pull Texas almost daily. Today, government from the city council and the county judge right up to the Statehouse in Austin is a government not just of nearly total control over every aspect of life (real or potential) but a government torn internally between the New Age Tranzi doctrines of people like the current mayor of Houston and many if not most of its school boards, administration, and staff, and the huckster “conservatism” of people like Perry and Cruz and too many sheriffs and chiefs of police. Like Rome, the people are the battleground and pawns between these sides: liberty is lost, even though there is always enough of a glimmer of hope to get people to keep on trying.
Consider these recent news stories: Texas is sending mixed messages, as it has been for 70 years.
First, Texan politicians are considering “allowing” open carry. “Long depicted as the rootin’-tootin’ capital of American gun culture, Texas is one of the few states with an outright ban on the open carry of handguns.” (Like many western myths, Texas hasn’t fit that description since at least the 1930s. AND Texas had pretty much outlawed open carry of handguns since an 1871 law passed during the Carpetbagger era (Reconstruction: the FedGov occupation of the South). Concealed carry was actually prohibited in the constitution, not because of being “anti-gun” but because doing so was considered underhanded and a low-down dirty trick: unmanly and unfair. Of course, the law about open carry was pretty much ignored until the era of Prohibition and rise of gangsterism and Texan government corruption and liberalism in the 20th Century.
Concealed carry was finally allowed in 1996, but open carry was and is still prohibited.) “That could change in 2015, with the Republican-dominated Legislature and Gov.-elect Greg Abbott expected to push for expanded gun rights [sic]. … Open carry drew wide support in the 2014 statewide election, and at least six bills have already been filed for the upcoming session, which starts in January. Abbott has already pledged to sign one into law if sent to his desk.” Tom Knapp noted: “I find it hard to fathom the arrogance of politicians who actually believe this is something within their purview to “allow” or ban.” However, I should point out that efforts dating back more than 40 years, to the 1970s have failed, including efforts almost every year for the past decade. This is NOT a done deal by any means, new governor and new GOP majority or not. Keep in mind the Texas Legislature constantly demonstrates Hopkin’s Rule: “The IQ of a committee is calculated by finding the IQ of the smartest person in it and dividing by the total number of people in the committee.”
Secondly, Texas is looking at letting cops become judge, jury and treasurer (extortioner) all at once, by authorizing cops to “accept” payment by credit or debit card IMMEDIATELY upon issuing a ticket – with the alternative apparently going straight to jail. I wonder, would this apply in Amarillo: could that kid that got beaten up so badly for wearing a rosary at a football game just have whipped out his parents’ credit card and paid a fine? Now, keep in mind, that Texas of the 2010s is one of the leading sources of stories about cops gunning down, beating, arresting with no real reason, and other abuse of citizens and immigrants alike, and not just due to the color of their skin or the accent with which they speak. Giving Texas cops MORE power and MORE opportunity for corruption is as bad as giving the 100-pound, 10-year-old, diabetic child the keys to the cookie jar AND the ammo rack. I don’t care if you can trust that 90% or even 95% of cops: that one in ten or one in twenty will make up for all the rest.
I will agree that Texas might be better in the 2010s than it was in the 1970s or the 1990s, but it is still bad, and the good things can change in a heartbeat.
I love Texas, even with what it has done to its people (including too many members of my family) over the years. But I cannot stand up for it and the criminal state it has become. Enough is enough: it is time for Texas to return to its roots of liberty in life and religion and business and every other part of life.