Government 2301

September 1998

Instructor: Evelyn Ballard

Unit 1 - Lecture 4

Texas - Background

When you read Chapter 1 of the Texas Government book, be sure to concentrate on the learning objectives on page 11 and the key terms on page 26. You should be able to explain each of these to another student. If you are able to do this, you know the material. Explaining this material to someone else who does not understand it is one way to determine the level of your own knowledge.

1. Population of Texas

The textbook explains that Texas has one of the largest populations of any state. One of the most important issues concerning our population, in addition to the size, is the make-up of that population. Texas, like several other Sunbelt states, has a very large minority population. It is predicted that by the year 2025 that state will be majority minority, that is, the population will no longer be majority anglo. By 2025, a majority of the people living in Texas will likely be members of different minority groups. Your book explains that some of this is a result of immigration, while another factor is the number of people who are born in the state.

I would like for you to consider the political implications of this upcoming change. As the minority population grows, so will their political clout. Over the years, Texas politics has been dominated, first by rural interests. When this was primarily a rural state, most state legislators came from rural areas. Because of the strength of their numbers, these representatives were able to dominate policymaking. Currently, most people in the state live in urban and suburban areas and the interests of these areas dominate state policymaking.

In addition to these changes, there have been changes in the racial and ethnic makeup of our representative bodies. Today, there are far more Hispanic and African-American legislators in Texas. With this increase, has come an increase in the recognition of the issues of concern to these groups. As our population changes, the concerns of minority groups will become more important. Legislators, if they want to be reelected, must reflect the needs of their constituencies. As these constituencies change, so must the issues considered to be important by legislators. Just as our state priorities have shifted from the rural to the urban and the suburban, so will our priorities have to shift and represent the priorities of the majority of the population. Time will tell us if those priorities are substantially different from those of the past majorities.

2. Political Culture

In the United States, there are three dominant political cultures, individualistic, moralistic, and individualistic. These three political cultures are a direct reflection of the history of our country and the people who have settled in different geographic areas. When you read this part of the chapter, concentrate on where each originated, the approach of each toward government (as well as the view of each concerning government), and the dominant political cultures in Texas.