â€œA state like this where you see so much growth and so much changeâ€¦having a limited government apparatus on top of that and a robust private sector has been really good for us,â€ says Erica Grieder, senior editor of Texas Monthly and author of the book Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas. â€œFor the past 10 to 12 years, every economic metric you look at is better than the country as a wholeâ€"is better than what you see in most statesâ€"and is also pretty broad-based.â€
Texas has done so well economically, that in October 2013 TIME Magazine declared Texas was the countryâ€™s future.
Grieder credits what she calls the â€œTexas modelâ€â€"a limited government apparatus based on low taxes and low servicesâ€"for the Lone Star Stateâ€™s economic success. Between June 2009 and June 2011, Texas created 40 percent of Americaâ€™s new net jobs. In that period, Texas saw a net population migration of 110,000 peopleâ€"making it the fastest growing state in the country.
But the solid growth of the Texas economy didnâ€™t stop critics like Paul Krugman of The New York Times from attacking the data and dismissing the stateâ€™s performance as myth.
â€œThe critique of it I was really surprised by, especially when the country was not doing that well. I would think you would at least stop to check the numbers first,â€ says Grieder, who believes criticism of the Texas model is rooted in negative political attitudes toward a state that is largely Republican. â€œPeople have this feeling of Texas, [that] it canâ€™t possibly be doing well. Itâ€™s this sort of belligerent state, or not that smart of a state, or whatever their perceptions may be.â€
The stateâ€™s explosive growth and changing demographics (Hispanics are expected to outnumber the stateâ€™s White population by 2020) have made Texas a valuable prize on the electoral map. Democrat strategistsâ€"and even President Barack Obamaâ€"have expressed the goal of turning Texas blue in coming election cycles. But Grieder doesnâ€™t think that change will come any time soon.
â€œSo far weâ€™re not seeing the Democrats putting out the candidates or campaigns or really the message,â€ she states. â€œThe Republicans arenâ€™t either which is kind of interesting. Given how well the state has done Iâ€™ve been surprised how the state Republican Party in this last set of primaries is just focused on issues that nobody cares about.â€
While Grieder says she has seen a surprising resurgence of the religious right in the latest round of primaries, the turn toward the Christian conservative movement is not indicative of mainstream Texans.
â€œI think that a lot of Texas Republicansâ€"a lot of Texans in generalâ€"are sort of quasi-libertarian or tacitly libertarian because of the issues they prioritize,â€ says Grieder. â€œI think that the social conservative movement is intrinsically at odds with the libertarian side of the party, but if those issues arenâ€™t advanced from the social conservative side then you donâ€™t see that tension become so manifest.â€
Approximately 8:00 minutes.
Produced by Alexis Garcia. Shot by Paul Detrick and Todd Krainin.
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