While the vision of Texas as an anti-gun, overpriced nanny state may seem like a laughable notion, many think it will become a reality in the not-too-distant future. As individuals and families flock to the Lone Star State from America’s most liberal cities, some have expressed fear that the push to “turn Texas blue” will become emboldened. Others have gone so far as to surmise that the importation of transplants’ liberal values will eventually turn Texas into an over-regulated, over-priced, anti-business stronghold.
As Breitbart Texas reported earlier in April, fresh statistics released by the federal government show that America’s biggest cities, like New York and L.A., are losing people at a rapid rate to “second-tier” cities. Using the new data, Bloomberg Businessweek compiled a list of the top fastest-growing large metros. Not surprisingly, four Texas cities made the top ten: Austin (which ranked number one), San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. The bountiful job market and business-friendly environment have unquestionably been the driving forces behind the ever-increasing populations in Texan cities.
But Julian Castro, the liberal mayor of San Antonio, said that he thinks the incoming population will make Texas less Republican. “It’s become a more urbanized state,” he said.
In March, Breitbart California’s Joel Pollak penned an op-ed on the issue. He wrote, “Texas is the number-one destination for California’s émigré population…It is popular among migrants from other blue states as well, owing to its warm climate, job opportunities, and lack of a state income tax. Over time, that is changing Texas’s political culture.”
The thought of the Lone Star State slowly transforming into a blue state is frightening to many native Texans, who fear that transplants will inject their cities with the very policies they initially fled from.
But not everyone buys the theory.
“Most liberals from California would rather die than come here,” Chuck DeVore, Vice President of Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation told Breitbart Texas. “They perceive Texas as a Bible belt, gun toting, cowboy hat-wearing state. They think, ‘If you can’t surf, why would you go there?'”
DeVore should know–he used to live in California and served as a member of the California State Assembly from 2004 to 2010. He eventually made the move to Texas due to the lower living costs and higher quality of life.
DeVore thinks that the majority of Texas transplants are similar to him: Conservatives feeling suffocated by big cities’ overwhelmingly liberal choke-hold. He said, “Migration is largely of taxpaying entrepreneurs and hardworking people who want to escape.”
He pointed to a joint study by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune which confirmed that “California has been losing people in droves. The plurality of those migrants have moved to Texas, as many as 70,000 in 2011 and 60,000 in 2012.” However, after polling a significant portion of the fresh transplants, the study found that 57 percent of them are self-proclaimed conservatives and only 27 percent are liberal.
“So while some may want to perceive the wave of Californians coming to Texas as part of the broader demographic trends that might eventually turn Texas purple, and then blue, the data collected to date suggest that Perry’s pitch appears to be hitting a chord with Californians who wear cowboy boots instead of Birkenstocks,” the Texas Tribune concluded.
“I can certainly appreciate the fear of native Texans that transplants from liberal cities are going to turn Texas blue,” DeVore said. “But the data doesn’t support this fear…Part of this has to do with people sorting themselves out. If you’re a liberal for whom gun control and the right to same-sex marriage is important, you’re not very likely to move to Texas.”
Any shift towards liberalism in Texas cities should not be automatically attributed to the ideology of newcomers to the state, DeVore said. Observable changes may be most influenced by federal policies.
“What’s going on in the urban centers? You have federal policies that make people dependent on government,” DeVore said.
This factor is not unique to Texas–such federal policies have an effect on all major U.S. cities.
DeVore said Texans who wish to keep their state economically free should focus on education reform, not migration.
“The biggest defense that Texas can erect against a red-to-blue transition is to provide for educational choice so that students can succeed,” he said. “Texas can lead on the school choice issue. Whether or not Texas thrives in the future or sees a gradual decline is based largely on the educational opportunities we give children from all parts of the state–not by throwing money at the already existing system but by full reform…how well Texas children are educated matters significantly, from a demographic standpoint.”
With regard to the 27 percent of transplants from California who are liberal, DeVore said, “I have confidence that the Texas model will win over converts…Texas is the embodiment of what America should be, as far as limited government and maximum freedom goes.”
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