Civil Affairs: Texan exceptionalism


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If you have followed Texpatriate or my other Civil Affairs columns for any considerable length of time, you have probably responded to one of my opinions with a dismissive “he’s full of crap,” while simultaneously rolling your eyes. But more times than not, my opinions lay nominally to the left of the center. I say this because, while many throughout Texas might consider my views left-wing, no one would ever dare affix that label to me –the scarlet ‘L’– when I lived in Boston. Of course, Massachusetts voted for Obama, and so did I (given the alternatives, I am still unapologetic about that), meaning that I probably should have been happy to stay up in the northeast. Originally, that was the plan.

There is an old Yiddish proverb that when man makes a plan, God laughs. I started writing Texpatriate my third day at Brandeis, people kept reading, I kept writing, we welcomed newcomers and the rest is history. However, a recurring question that I keep finding myself answering at myriad Christmas parties is why I specifically enjoy what happens, here in Houston, or on a Statewide level, more than the ostensibly exciting horse-race of national politics or what goes on in Boston (the City did have a competitive Mayoral election this year). The answer to that question, I have found, has very little to do with my partisan affiliation and much more with the type of person I am.

Take, for example, the dysfunction that plagues Washington DC. I suppose everyone has her or his own interpretation of why so little gets done, but I personally think that it has a lot to do with the denizens of the City sporting fake personalities that would give California or Dallas a good run for all its gaudy, nouveau-riche money. I have long held the impression of characters such as Barack Obama, Harry Reid, John Boehner or Eric Cantor lack any core constitution, any basic principles of goodness that would lead that to –once, just once– putting the future of the country ahead of their narrow, shortsighted political interest. The members of the “Obama fan cult,” now fewer and father in between, who describe their President with an adulation such as “the Chess master,” illustrate this harmful point remarkably well.

Say what you will about Rick Perry, but nobody has ever accused the man of putting on a mask or engaging in a ruse to accomplish purely political goals. One may have political disagreements with the man –and Lord knows I do– but you actually know where he stands on the issues compared to you. I do not know whether to praise or condemn the President on issues such as budgetary matters and Social Security reform, because he has been so darn opaque on them recently. The President could still be the commander-in-chief who saves Social Security for generations, but he could also be the one who sticks a knife into its neck.  I’m still leaning towards the latter, but that is neither here nor there.

Observing the 83rd Legislature’s regular session over the first five months of this year has given me a renewed sense of optimism in a Government that can work. As big issues loomed over the future of the State, our Legislature debated and then enacted long-term solutions in both Water and Transportation funding. There is no FOX News, MSNBC or busloads of lobbyists in Austin. The part-time Texas Legislature, I have found, is immeasurably better than whatever goes on in Washington. When given a hard-deadline, after which legislators will not meet again until after the biennial, even the most partisan ideologues will roll up their sleeves and make tough decisions for the future of the State. That has not happened in the US Capitol –not even once– for the better part of my lifetime.

Say what you will about Texas, I will always prefer its honesty and frankness over the superficial, synthetic culture of Washington.

Noah M. Horwitz published a weekly column, “Civil Affairs,” in a Boston newspaper from 2012-2014He has since transferred the column’s home to Texpatriate.

2 thoughts on “Civil Affairs: Texan exceptionalism

  1. you got to love noahs style,every week or so he just slapps another photo of himself and writes a story about himself=always keeps me smiling.

  2. Pingback: Texpatriate | Perry comes out for pot

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