The superiority of Texas has long been accepted as a fact by those fit to judge. And of course, the only such people are Texans.
I have several acquaintances who, when traveling in Europe, prefer to identify themselves as Texans rather than Americans. Upon their returns, they tell me that far from being treated as annoying, arrogant tourists, they became the center of attention instead.
You’d be right to think I am purposefully being confrontational. Any Texan worth his salt who, when traveling outside the Promised Land, doesn’t brag about his state commits a major crime. Or does he?
Though a vast majority of Americans can’t stand Texas arrogance, it appears that the fact of the state’s greatness has gained a tacit admittance. That’s right, every day a thousand Americans move to Texas. When combined with an influx of immigration from the nation’s southern neighbor, these numbers have caused a 25 percent jump in the state’s population since 2000.
I truly am proud of this fact, but am in no way happy about it. Actually, the thought only brings sadness.
The state’s size, former independence, oil booms, and cowboy idealization have not only fostered a profound sense of state pride but have allowed a unique culture to flower.
But Texas culture is under a sustained assault. Driving through the state, I’ve often noted signs of change. Out-of-state restaurant chains opening up, California-style suburbs being built, and classrooms in which only half of the students are native Texans. Everywhere I see culture rot.
I find it disconcerting that a culture which has produced a great business and social climate is attracting out-of-staters who in turn are changing this culture into an amalgam of the very ones from which they flee.
The business and population boom has led to some great developments, mind you, Austin’s burgeoning film and music scene among them. But is it worth it if in fifty years Texas culture resembles that of California?
There are several means by which Texans are fighting to preserve their culture. They have made it mandatory that all students take two full years of Texas History, a policy followed by most private schools as well. In addition, out-of-state college students are required to take a semester of Texas History. Students are also required to say a Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas flag after they say the American one. Most out-of-state parents are surprised at the Texas loyalty displayed by their children. Indeed our indoctrination techniques are par excellence.
Despite its size, the state largely remains unified in sharing Texas culture. In my mind, part of this stems from the large amount of intrastate traveling Texans do, as well as their outgoing and hospitable nature toward each other.
I hold fond memories from high school when, after a long week, my friends and I would hop into one of our cars and make the five-hour drive to San Antonio for the weekend. Or, on Senior Skip days, driving to the ocean where we’d park on the beach and stay till evening. I don’t remember ever being asked to chip in for gas when in another’s vehicle.
As of the latest census only California, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida have a lower percentage of native-born inhabitants than Texas.
This statistic is not a cause for worry in-and-of itself. However, the fact that most of the newcomers regard state pride as quaint or ridiculous represents a harbinger of things to come.
State pride should be encouraged in every state. I feel as if the largest negative effect of the Civil War was to make the practice of state pride an act of impropriety. The Federalism designed by the founding fathers hinged on the existence of such pride. It is easy to trace the decline of state pride with the decay of our constitutional system. The problem escaping most concerned citizens is that electing conservative Republicans won’t prove sufficient to change the nation’s trajectory.