(cross-posted with permission from Noahpinion)
In a review of a new book about Texas oil barons, the Economist glibly notes:
On a scale not always appreciated, the Texas oil billionaires nurtured the growth of America’s radical right, financing Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt, a string of extremist newsletters (devoted to attacking such hidden dangers as the Jewish Gestapo) and even setting up an openly white-supremacist third political party, the Texas Regulars. More recently, the "Texanisation" of the Republican Party, most famously in the shape of Tom DeLay, former House majority leader, and the just-departed 43rd president, has driven the party to become more religious and outspokenly patriotic.
(more after the jump)
Very true. The South is a solid bloc of votes, but without Texas we wouldn't have seen a three-decade string of Southern presidents. Though Texas' economy has diversified since the oil days, Big Oil still called more shots in Washington during the Bush administration than any other companies. The suppression of fuel efficiency standards, alternative energy, and climate science came straight out of Houston; some might add the Iraq War to that list.
How big of an exaggeration would it be to say that Texas is the reason we saw the type of Republican hegemony we saw from 1980 to 2008? The reason, perhaps, that the Rush Limbaughs of this country were allowed to turn tax-cutting and no-bid faux-privatization into a religion? The reason that Republican economic policies were often little more than coded racial appeals to Southern white tribalists? The reason that, as we speak, the GOP's best answer to Obama's sweeping reforms is a mix CD with "The Star Spanglish Banner" and "Barack the Magic Negro"? Without Texas' big fat butt weighing down on K street and the electoral college, would we be a more tolerant and modernized nation by now?
Which is to say: if and when Texas goes blue, is it all over for Limbaugh-ism?