There’s a piece in this month’s New Yorker called “America’s Future Is Texas.” Noting Texas’ rife politics, cultural innuendoes, and volatile intra-legislative conflict, the piece was unsettling, to say the least. Though no one could dispute the shortcomings of Texas politics, Texas sets a fantastic example in many other respects.
In short, Texas IS America’s future — just leave the petty politics behind.
When I first moved here, I immediately noticed a politeness I hadn’t seen in my home state of New York. “Yes sir,” “No ma’am,” holding the door, greeting passersby with a “Hello” or “Howdy,” and using the magic words — “Please” and “Thank you” — religiously were not a rarity but rather a state commonality; it was a kindness uniquely Southern and a charm sweeter than sweet tea. From Florida to California, adopting our social norms on a larger scale would make the U.S. a more amicable place.
I also vividly remember the first morning of second grade: We recited the American Pledge and Texas Pledge, the latter of which I had never heard before. Students and teachers said both with a patriotic affection. Texans’ love for state and country runs deep, going back generations in some families. Our Texan (even Texian) and American pride trumps every other state’s. If other places within the U.S. mimicked Texas in that respect, a sense of unity that has for some time evaded this country may reemerge and usher in a new era of American exceptionalism.
Following my freshman year of high school, when I got my first job at a veterinary clinic for minimum wage, I worked with people who had a uniquely Texan work ethic. No one ever complained and my coworkers usually had a Texas-sized smile. Work ethic is ingrained here; “if you want something, work hard at it” is a quintessential Texas credo. If outsiders looked to the Texan model, they’d see the people working in the fields and clinics and firms with an indomitable spirit. What you see in the Lone Star State is an unbridled enthusiasm and doubly-hard workers. Copy that model to Virginia, Ohio, and so on, and it’d make a tremendous difference in this country’s economic landscape.
Speaking of economic landscape, Texas sets a hard-to-beat model: The Texas Miracle. From 2000 to 2013, Texas added one job per three people, far exceeding the national average (one per seven) and California (one per 11). Though Texas and California have a vast diversity and a profusion of economic resources, their respective governments are starkly different. That’s how Texas has beaten California in per capita adjusted income and economic growth: It’s because Texas’ broader government is focused on liberty and low taxes. Our state economy, however, has slowed down by a good extent, but hopefully with a bit of Texas grit and a rebound in the energy sector, our liberty-minded economic philosophy may once again become the shining “City Upon a Hill.”
So, come on down to Texas: Meet our hospitable folks, our prideful Americans, have a glass of sweet tea, get some Tex-Mex, and go around to some of our businesses. See what the rave is all about, and take part of us home with you to Texify your state. You won’t regret it.
Liam Verses is a Plan II and environmental engineering freshman.