I’m picking up my analysis of why America is so conservative from where I left off, how Texas shaped Bush Jnr and thus shaped American political policy.
Texas is America in distorted miniature: huge, diverse, full of optimism, self-confidence, materialism and braggadocio. It is a place where you make something out of nothing and where high levels of violence (whether state approved or not) sit next to high levels of religiosity.
It’s size means its occupants take a ‘slash and burn’ attitude to its natural resources, sheer size also fills it with an arrogance, an arrogance born out of excellent economic growth stemming from their sense of buccaneering capitalism; this in turn creates a lively and fruitful environment for the risk taking entrepreneur. Risk taking is not just the modus operandi of the private sector, government is also run in such a manner, Bush (as governor of Texas) pre-empted his time in the White House with swinging tax cuts that left the Texas legislature in 2003 trying to plug a $10 billion hole; one can’t help but feel that whoever takes over in the White House will face a similar dilemma.
Texas, like America, is a champion for the go-getter but an enemy of the weak, with low taxes, weak trade unions, a shoddy public sector and a non-existent welfare system: extreme wealth lives next to extreme poverty.
What remains of the welfare state is ran by churches, evangelical churches at that, who have also infiltrated Texas’ prison system and take a major role in correcting prisoner’s behaviour through the word of Jesus Christ (President Bush’s favourite philosopher…I kid you not).
And then there is the violence, not only is Texas a military hub for the US (with the second largest army base in the country) it also has inordinately high murder rates whilst having the most prisoners on death row, never mind the volume of people who are actually killed through this form of state approved murder.
Bush has ran America very much as he ran Texas, only this time he has surrounded himself with an even larger array of Texan cronies to make him feel right at ‘home’.
So how could it all go wrong for the conservative movement?