In 1980, I met on a train through Italy a couple of English soccer hooligans who were headed for a post-match riot in Turin. When they asked where I was from, I replied, “Houston”, where I had just graduated from college. They had never heard of Houston, so I suggested “Dallas” as a reasonable approximation.
“Who shot J.R.?” the yobs exclaimed in happy unison.
Although Southfork Ranch, the fictional abode of Television Texan J.R. Ewing, was set in Dallas, Houston was even more the capital of capitalist exuberance during the 1970s oil boom.
By 1980, Houston’s Harris County was the third most populous in America, and the downtown business district had sprouted the most outlandish skyline west of the Mississippi (although Dallas wasn’t far behind).
Unsurprisingly, except apparently to the banks, oil prices eventually came down and the Texas bubble popped. Yet the modern Republican Party’s state electorate was forged in the 1970s. In contrast to the housing boom of the last decade in California, in Texas back then construction wasn’t considered “a job Americans just wouldn’t [or shouldn’t] do.” Nor was it yet universally assumed by the Establishment that high wages for American workers were an evil to be fought at all cost.
Back in the 1970s, strong demand bid up workers’ wages in Texas. That lured in large numbers of American workers to Texas from the declining cities of the Rust Belt. Although American newcomers to Texas in the 1970s typically came from places where the Democrats had ruled at least since FDR, they joined with native Texans in trending Republican.
After voting for Carter in 1976, Texas went for Reagan in 1980 and hasn’t wavered since. Texas kept the GOP viable at the national level when California, which voted for nine out of ten Republican Presidential candidates from 1952-1988, flipped Democratic.
February 22, 2010
My new VDARE.com column outlines a simple rule for electoral success: Places that white Americans move to vote Republican in the future, while places that immigrants move to vote Democratic down the road: even Dallas and Houston.
Read the rest there and comment upon it here.