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As Texas Went

As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American AgendaAs Texas Goes…: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda by Gail Collins

As Texas goes, says Collins, so goes the nation, and there are some revelatory and I must admit pretty horrifying details about how the state of Texas has led the way in banking laws, education (especially sex education, or embargo of), textbooks, global warming, immigration and voters’ rights, written with that lighthearted acerbity we enjoy so much in her NYT opinion column. In the prologue she writes

Texas banking laws set the stage for the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s. The 2008 economic meltdown was the product of a financial deregulation that was the work of/Texas senator Phil Gramm. Our energy policy is the way it is in large part because Texas politicians and Texas special interests like it that way…Schools from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, have been remade, reorganized, and sometimes totally upended under a federal law based on Texas education reform. For several generations, our kids have been reading textbooks written with an eye to Texas sensibilities. Texas presidents have the led the country into every land war the United States has been involved in since Vietnam.

This wasn’t really a book, it was a 200-page column with a bunch of appendices supporting her points. I wonder if she wasn’t perhaps rushing to print before her premise became dated, because I found at least two gaping holes in her logic.

1. She doesn’t talk near enough about the Hispanic population of Texas, which in number is rapidly overtaking the Anglo population of Texas. Anglo Texans are largely Republican. Hispanic Texans are largely Democrat. Texas is on the brink of going blue in a big way. I wish she’d spent more time with guys like San Antonio mayor Julian Castro. There is the future of Texas.

2. She also makes no reference to e-books, which is on its own cusp, that of revolutionizing textbooks. I speak from personal experience here: Changing the text of an ebook is so easy compared to changing the text of a print book. So what if Texas wants to axe the New Deal or evolution or global warming or separation of church and state out of its textbooks? Let ’em. In ebooks, the rest of the states can add all those subjects right back in with relatively few labor costs. And there is the future of textbooks.

This is a book worth reading, but it might have been more accurate to have called it “As Texas Went.”

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3 thoughts on “As Texas Went

  1. Carla says:

    Hi Dana,

    Great post. I’ve been a fan for years, having lived in Alaska for a spell in the early 1990s. Currently I’m working on a mystery novel that takes place in Alaska. I’m trying to understand how the state troopers and investigations unit would handle a certain situation. I’ve already contacted them, but I’m not sure they’re going to talk to me. You probably get this question a fair amount, but [you can probably insert just about anything you want between these brackets; you’ve no doubt heard it all by now].

    So would it be okay if I ask you some questions to help get me started? That would be awesome. My mom is a mystery writer, and I’m fond of saying that I’m keeping murder in the family.

    Carla

    Like

    • My best advice for you is to go down to the state trooper museum in Anchorage (http://www.alaskatroopermuseum.com/) and get acquainted with guys like Tom Anderson. They’re retired and less afraid of being burned, and they have all the best stories to tell. I would also recommend reading the Alaska State Trooper dispatch page (http://www.dps.state.ak.us/pio/dispatch/).

      You really need to go to the horse’s mouth with your research. My experiences and opinions, even the way I hear a trooper tell a story, is not the way you will hear it.

      Like

  2. Carla says:

    Thanks, Dana. I’ve been waiting to hear back from the troopers’ office in Anchorage. They answered some of my questions and are going to get back to me when they find an available trooper.

    Meanwhile I will definitely contact the folks at the museum. Thanks for the great suggestion.

    Like

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