What happened to you? You’ve changed. We don’t even recognize you anymore.
We watch what you’re doing. We hear what you’re saying. And, we follow what’s happening. We can hardly believe it.
You were once such a prideful state. You could take great pride in calling yourself a real “Texan.” People around the country and all over the world envied you. Yes, they even wanted to be like you.
When we thought of Texans, positive qualities came to mind — including virtues like honesty, courage, ambition, and most of all — receptivity. You welcomed everyone, usually with a smile. You sought out new ideas. You were a giant as a state and as a people. You thought big.
But now, you think small. People around the world don’t envy you anymore. Now, they pity you. In a majority of states and nations, you’ve become a laughingstock.
This pains me to say all this because I was born in Texas. I spent many years growing up, living, and working in Texas. I attended two Texas universities. When I moved out of state and later lived abroad, many of those I met used to ask me about Texas. They always wanted to know more. I have to admit, being from Texas was a bragging right.
But things are different now.
You don’t believe me? Just take a look at your leaders. You went from Lyndon B. Johnson and John Tower and Lloyd Bentson and Ann Richards and Barbara Jordan….to Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton, and Louie Gohmert. And that doesn’t even touch on the disaster of the George W. Bush years. Your image morphed from the words penned by the late great Texas novelist Larry McMurtry into the voice of Alex Jones, who now spews his bile from within your state borders. Starting to get the picture?
Each time I return to Texas the air is a little dirtier. Despite your wide-open spaces, your air ranks as the third-worst in the nation. Your water is running out, exacerbated by drought, and poisoned by polluters who took full advantage of your obsession with slashing regulations and limiting the role of government. Last winter many of you nearly froze to death because you didn’t want to interfere with “the free market” when it came to energy. And let’s not even get started on Texas catastrophic record on health insurance coverage (50th), percentage of high school graduates (50th), aid to single women and children (49th), SAT scores (49th), amount of welfare and food stamps paid out (49th), per capita spending on mental health (46th), the home ownership rate (45th), and income inequality (43rd). Oh, and that’s just a shortlist. It’s much uglier.
But rejoice Texas! You aren’t at the bottom of every category. Here’s an abbreviated countdown. You’re 5th in overall crime rate. You’re 4th in percentage of children living in poverty. You’re 3rd in percentage of population that is malnourished. And, you’re either Number 1 or Number 2 in all of these categories:
- Percentage of population that goes hungry
- Teenage birth rate
- Amount of exposure to ozone pollution
- Number of hazardous-chemical spills
- Number of inmates per 100,000 people
- Number of highway fatalities
- Number of adults diagnosed with diabetes
- Percentage of uninsured children
- Percentage of home refinance loans that are sub-prime mortgage loans
- Amount of toxic and cancerous manufacturing emissions
- Number of clean-water permit violations
- Number of environmental civil rights complaints
- Per capita consumption of electricity
- Number of job discrimination lawsuits filed
Oh, and you are #1 in executions.
Let’s hear it Texans! All together now! We’re number 1! No–I’m not talking about your lousy football teams.
But hey, your Republican leaders are dancing the two-step when it comes to restricting women’s reproduction and the right to control their own bodies, railing against Critical Race Theory which seeks to teach an accurate portrayal of history, and making damn sure everyone in the state has enough guns and ammunition to invade California, if necessary.
If you’re a Texan, you shouldn’t be proud of this. You should be embarrassed.
And this brings me to the final painful truth. Texans, I hate to break this to you. When people outside your state think of you, they don’t see cowboys riding across the open range. They look at your leaders, they see many of your inane posts on social media, and they think of braggadocious dirt dumb dullards, impervious to logic, facts, and even science. They see the Lone Star State’s great legacy tarnished and twisted.
It’s up to you Texas. It’s not too late. Do better. Be better. Let’s hope this intervention is the start of a recovery. We’re rooting for you. Gee, we’d love to have our old Texas back.
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