The Future Of Texas

The Future Of Texas: Is It America’s Future?


Leonard Zwelling

Mimi Swartz is the executive editor of Texas Monthly and is based in Houston. Richard Parker is an author writing about the Southwest. They both had opinion pieces in The New York Times on July 15 about the great state of Texas and how the political agenda of the Texas GOP has veered the state off course. They blame most of this on the lack of any meaningful opposition on the part of Democrats to the Republican agenda that has led to a voter suppression bill likely to pass eventually despite the fleeing Democrats on private planes to Dulles, an abortion bill that virtually outlaws the procedure in Texas, instructions to school teachers about racism and history that do not align with the truth, and the ability of most adults to carry guns in Texas without licensing, permitting, or training. And don’t forget Governor Abbott’s pledge to complete the Mexican border wall. This all occurs in the face of no action on the fragile electric grid of Texas that failed last winter and the great needs in the state for health care and education reform. As both writers point out, the Texas statewide leadership is a disaster.

This is all personally very painful for me, but not at all new. I have grown to love Texas and especially Houston with its initiative, diversity, entrepreneurship, and industriousness.

As an executive in a state institution for many years, I was constantly surprised at the ludicrous decisions that emanated from Austin and the total lack of connection with reality from the UT Chancellor’s office and that of the office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs. They had no idea what was going on at MD Anderson and seemed to only care about two things when it came to the cancer center—continuous income and quiet among the faculty. The fourth president of MD Anderson taxed both of these issues and this largely explains his relatively brief tenure. The current president has done a marvelous job at both by restoring the revenue stream despite the threat of covid and filling the faculty ranks and his administration with EQ savvy pacifists. I cannot even recognize MD Anderson any more. Where is the combativeness and fights over ideas that attracted me here in the first place?

The real point here is Texas (rather than California) the future of the rest of the country? Will Republican state legislatures pass ridiculous bills that suppress free voting despite the overwhelming desire of Americans to be more inclusive in their voting and a complete lack of any evidence of widespread voter fraud or a Republican presidential victory in 2020?

I am the first person to acknowledge that my generation (the Boomers) did a poor job of managing the affairs of the country. From our parents’ failings in Vietnam and Watergate to Iran-Contra and 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American government has failed. It should come as no surprise that state governments are seizing the initiative in the extreme.

The only solution is a sound, sane Democratic Party that does not fall victim to hyper-progressive giveaways and wide-open immigration policies. What happened to the middle? Most Americans want to preserve the right to an abortion only like Bill Clinton said, “safe, legal and rare.” Most Americans do not want wholesale firearms on the streets and it’s a good thing to re-examine our history even if it forces us to face that some of our heroes were really scoundrels. So what? We got here anyway.

The Texas Democratic Party needs to take a stand against this legislation and then run on their positions to gain some victories on the state level, not from it to DC. If it takes a movie star to get there, I’m fine with that.

I love Texas. I don’t want to leave or have my kids feel they can’t live here. On the other hand, where else are you going to go? The burning west or the crime-ridden east?

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