It is natural for citizens to have affinity for their home country whether they are patriotic or not, but it is often curious why they take pride in a nation that treats its least fortunate citizens with contempt and apparent disgust they exist. The state of the disadvantaged in America is certainly nothing to be proud of, but it would be worse if Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. For a glimpse into the deplorable conditions in this country if Republicans were in charge there is a prime example that should serve as a warning that no matter how dreadful America is as a nation, it is nothing near as bad as Texas. It is true that Texas is a large state and its prideful and devoted residents are wont to warn the rest of the nation “not to mess with Texas” and claim it is number one, but the areas the state leads the nation in are as embarrassing as those that put it at the bottom of some very pathetic categories. However, the sad state of affairs in Texas are prime examples of Republicans’ intent for America that they doubtless would be proud of regardless the damaging effects on the people.
There are a significant number of Texans who yearn to secede from the Union and form their own republic, and there is likely an equal number of Americans willing to let the state leave and become the banana republic state Republicans are attempting to create. A banana republic typically has stratified social classes, including a large impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy that comprises the elites of business and politics who control and exploit their citizens’ social and economic plight. It makes sense that Texas Republicans are proud of their handiwork because they do rank at or near the top of several categories near and dear to conservatives, and possibly they are just as pleased at their ranking at or near the bottom of an equal number of areas endemic to conservative policies.
Texans are prone to boast the superiority of their education system because they do have the nation’s second highest public school enrollment, but they also have the lowest percent of their population (25 and older) with a high school diploma coming in at 50th in the nation. In this one area Texas Republicans are the model national Republicans are aching to follow because Texas’ low graduation rate reflects their paltry investment (49) in education spending and their children’s futures. Republicans in Congress have made slashing education spending a key component of their austerity policy and doubtless their goal is following Texas Republicans’ lead to produce a quarter of the population without a basic high school education. It is not cruel enough for Republicans to keep Texans uneducated, so they are going out of their way to keep their residents sick as well.
Texas leads the nation in the percentage of children who are uninsured (1st) which is in keeping with the percentage of the total population without basic healthcare insurance (also at the top of the nation’s list). Businesses in Texas contribute to a sick and ailing population as the state’s workers with employer-based health insurance is near the bottom at number 48, and the percentage of poor people covered by and per capita spent on Medicaid puts the state at 49th in the nation. Texas also ranks dead last in per capita spending on mental health and the percentage of non-elderly women with health insurance to keep the state’s poorest residents as sick as possible. To assuage those numbers, the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion will help Texas Republicans provide healthcare for over 1.5 million poor residents, but evangelical Rick (Governor Perry) rejected the expansion regardless it is free until 2017 and then costs the state only 10% by the year 2020. It is noteworthy that national Republicans are panting to completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act to make the entire nation as ill-covered and uninsured as Texas Republicans, and they are just as anxious to create a dirty air and water supply as the Texas GOP.
Libertarians like the Koch brothers and their legislative arm ALEC spend an inordinate amount of money to kill federal environmental regulations, and to see the results up close and personal one just needs to look at Texas. The state is number one in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, toxic chemicals released into the water, and the amount of hazardous waste generated. The culprits are all related to the petro-chemical industry including the devastation wrought by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to enrich the oil industry. Besides poisoning the existing water supply, fracking is responsible for water shortages plaguing Texas that evangelical Rick proposed remedying in the past with days of prayer and supplication that were woefully unsuccessful. However, when the oil industry complained they were on pace to exhaust the people’s water they wasted in their fracking frenzy, Republicans jumped to consider funding new water projects to aid the oil industry despite they were complicit in using up what little potable water residents had access to before the fracking craze. According to data collected by the Bureau of Economic Geology on mining water use and oil and gas water use, 100% of the water deficit projected for 2020 can be met by cutting oil and gas water use by half.
The list goes on and on that informs a state like Texas with a Republican legislature and executive branch is a portent of a Republican America if libertarians have their way. It is noteworthy, though, to mention that for a state with evangelical Republicans claiming special reverence for the sanctity of life and fierce opposition to women’s reproductive choice, their devotion is restricted to the moment of conception because Texas ranks dead last for the percentage of women receiving prenatal care in first trimester, and coupled with their number 4 rank with the highest percentage of children living in poverty, it is obvious their sanctity of life devotion begins and ends with a zygote.
This is in no way an indictment of all Texans because it is likely that at least some of the poor, sick, hungry, and polluted citizens want for leaders who are not inhumane and cruel. They most likely want Republicans to help provide living wage jobs, but between Texas being a right to work for less state, the greatest number of WalMart stores with low-wage part-time jobs, and potential jobs lost by rejecting Medicaid expansion, they will remain a state with one of the highest percentages of population living below poverty (4th) and perpetual food insecurity (2nd). The real danger is that with national Republicans seeking a model to follow to enrich the oil industry, deregulate environmental protections, cut education spending, and eliminate Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, Texas is a shining example.
If Americans want a vision of a libertarian paradise Republicans are desperate to create, there are several Republican-controlled states that serve as a warning that the conservative vision for America is a nation of poor, uneducated, sick, and poverty-ridden citizens struggling to survive. Texas is a prime example because they encapsulate every devastating policy national Republicans are desperate to enact. There is less and less to be proud of in America based on the way it treats its least fortunate citizens, but as horrendous as the nation is as a whole, it pales in comparison to the cold-bloodedness and cruelty Texas Republicans are inflicting on its own residents. It is obvious that when they say “don’t mess with Texas,” Republicans mean do not upset the stellar model of inhumanity congressional Republicans intend following to create a nation as bad off as the state of Texas.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.