Texas liberals?

I have a friend who wants to move to Austin, who is well read in the history of the American Left, who keeps reminding me that Texas used to be a great place for breeding liberals, strange as that sounds nowadays. As if Novaya Zemalya is a great place for raising mangoes. According to my friend, colonies of German socialists settled Texas in the 19th century. Just now I was recommending Grace Halsell’s book Soul Sister, about her experience living as a black woman. It was the female answer to the Sixties race bender sensation Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. Remembering Halsell called to mind Barbara Jordan, Bill Moyers, and… I guess we probably have to include LBJ, like it or not… but I’m not directly familiar with Texas, please inform me. Has liberalism been exterminated there, or does it live on underground, plotted in cellars by candlelight?

Sorry for the typo, I meant Novaya Zemlya.

I shouldn’t have forgotten to mention Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower. Tell me some more.

Dan Rather is no conservative.

No, sadly to say, the People’s Republic of Austin is flourishing.

Ralph Yarborough It was to ease tensions between the liberal (led by Yarborough) and moderate (led by John Connally) wings of the Texas Democratic Party that President Kennedy travelled to Dallas on 11/22/1963.

Cissy Farenthold, leader of the “Dirty Thirty” reformist faction in the Legislature. Those of us of a certain age remember her quixotic run for Vice President at the chaotic 1972 Convention.

It’s true about the Germans–go visit Fredericksburg and you suddenly feel like you’re in a displaced portion of Wisconsin. I couldn’t speak to their politics, though.

On the historical liberals list you could put Ralph Yarborough.

Hard not to, given that he was (and still is) the most liberal president since FDR.


Most assuredly. It’s just that Vietnam business left a bad taste. This reminds us how the semantics of liberal has changed. Maybe “war liberal” didn’t used to be such an oxymoron.

You may be interested in the book, What’s the Matter with Kansas.

Not only does it give the very liberal history of Kansas, but it goes over how it was converted from Liberal to Conservative.

My understanding is that Austin attracts a lot of liberally-minded folks in Texas. Not so much in the legislature mind you, but it’s a college town with a big music scene.

US Representative Ron Paul is a Libertarian-leaning Republican whose voting record on many Bush Administration policies has been far more “liberal” than any Democrat in Congress.

There’s also this guy

By way of example, Texas overall approved the amendment banning gay marriage by 76%, but Travis county (where Austin is located) had 60% voting against it. Texas does have a vocal minority of liberals and Democrats, particularly in Austin.

12 posts in and no one has mentioned Ann Richards yet?

I can tell you from my almost ten years there that Austin is most definitely the liberal oasis of Texas. (Remind me to tell you of the time I was asked, “You ain’t from around here, arrrrr yeww?” whilst on my way to Yoakum.) Of late, Austin has certainly enjoyed a boom, and that brings money and oft times money brings a more conservative element, so certainly things could be more conservative there than when I left. On the whole, however, Austin is markedly more liberal than the rest of Texas, IME, and a exuberant leftist will not feel isolated there.

I’m a Texas liberal, if that matters. Not that I’m anyone special. My parents are Texas liberals, too. Well, my dad was (he died a year ago). My mom still is. She lives in Austin. I grew up in Austin (go figure). Now, I am often very lonely when I vote in the Democratic primary. In my county, we tend to vote Republican in state and national races and Democratic in local races (like sherrif or state rep).

Another Texas Liberal checking in. Kinky Friedman, while not exactly a liberal’s liberal, is quite left. But he is a good example of the modern Texas liberal.

I’m in Houston, which has a big, largely forgotten liberal inner city. This spans the academia from Rice University/Texas Medical Center/University of Houston areas and the largely African-American Third Ward. The US Representative, Sheila Jackson Lee, consistently has one of the more liberal voting records in Congress. Besides her, Chris Bell (who lost his seat with Delay’s redistricting and whose ethics charges recently got Delay rung up by the Austin DA), and Nick Lampson (who is running against DeLay) come to mind. Another Democratic Congressman who recently lost his House seat to redistricting was Martin Frost from Dallas.

Texas liberals tend to be of a different build than the East Coast or West Coast liberals. Many support things like gun rights. Many hunt. Many own ranches or farms. They come much more from the libertarian edge of the party than other Democrats. Of course, that said, LBJ did fund a whole new host of government programs, but these tended to increase, not decrease rights.

The Texas Republican is a fairly new invention, a result of imports from elsewhere (George H. W. Bush), oil executives, conservative Christians, and sadly a little bit of race baiting (although predominantly with Mexican/Central American immigrants here).

Socialism Settled in Texas

I’d say most of the conservative money has found it’s way to far north Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, and other areas in souther Williamson County. Somewhere around Parmer Lane or so, the political makeup of the population changes.

There’s always the Dixie Chicks.

Rafael Anchia is my member of the Texas House of Representatives.