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Texas: The Conservative Dystopia

Marylanders and Americans everywhere: don’t listen to Rick Perry. It’s time to mess with Texas.

Texas Governor Rick Perry. (Photo: Ed Schipul)

If you live in the Maryland or Washington, D.C. area, you’ve probably seen ads encouraging businesses to move to places like Texas from places like Maryland over the past few weeks.

In what looks like a warm-up for another presidential run, Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry has started an ad campaign in the home state of another potential 2016 candidate, Democratic Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

The message behind the ad campaign is pretty obvious: unlike that taxed Blue State Maryland where billionaires actually pay income taxes and poor people have access to Medicaid, low-tax, limited Medicaid Red State Texas is booming, and ready to welcome billionaires and staff their businesses with even cheaper workers.

But if Rick Perry actually wanted to show people the real Texas, his ad would go something like this:

“When you grow tired of struggling to make ends meet in wacky liberal states like Maryland, think Texas, where we’re number one in low-wage job growth.

“Come to Texas, where if you’re poor you have to pay taxes on everything you buy and every penny of your income, but if you’re a billionaire, you get all those federal breaks and don’t even have to pay a state income tax!

“Come to Texas, where you might have to drive more than four hours to get birth control pills because our state’s new abortion laws have forced most women’s health clinics to close down, but our billion dollar mega-church industry has its arms wide open to teach your little lady how to be happy in the kitchen.

“Come to Texas, where we have some pretty good hospitals, and you won’t have to mingle with those smelly poor people because our state has the most people without insurance in the country.

“Come to Texas, where if some uppity person of color bothers you, we know how to deal with them – we lead the country in executions. In fact, we’ve executed more than 500 people since 1976! We even executed a mentally disabled man last year after the Supreme Court said it was illegal.

“Come to Texas, where we gerrymander poor, Black, or Latino people out of any chance for political power.

“Come to Texas, where your kids can learn some of the most up-to-date scholarship on American history. You know, stuff like how Thomas Jefferson was a rabid Christian who loved the churches.”

What Rick Perry doesn’t want you to know is that the “Texas model” is, by all standards (unless you’re a billionaire), a disaster.

Perry’s right when he says that Texas is great for business, but that’s exactly the problem. Texas’ model is only good for businesses, in particular big corporations. Everyone else is pretty much screwed.

But make no mistake about it, Rick Perry’s anti-Maryland ad isn’t really about Maryland and it isn’t really about Texas either. It’s about the two competing visions of government we have right here in the United States right now.

On the one hand there are places like Vermont, Massachusetts, and Oregon. These states, they’re commonly called Blue States, have made a commitment to providing healthcare for all their citizens, have made a commitment to expanding democracy, and are arguably moving towards a more European-style form of social democracy. Massachusetts has had universal health insurance – aka “Romneycare” – since 2006, and right now Vermont is moving towards a complete single payer system, like the one Canada uses.

On the other hand, though, there are states like Texas, states that make it almost impossible to start a union, make it pretty much illegal for women to control their bodies, restrict voting rights for anyone who’s not white, and let billionaires pay nothing in taxes while the poor foot the bill. These same states by the way, suck billions from the federal government every year, way more than most Blue States, all while their governors complain about “federal tyranny.” They are takers, not makers.

This “taker” model is spreading. Just look at North Carolina. Since Republicans took hold of every branch of that state’s government earlier this year, conservatives in the state legislature have turned the Tar Heel State into Texas North, passing extreme voter suppression laws, raising taxes on the poor, cutting taxes on rich people, and restricting reproductive choice. Similar Republican plots are afoot in Wisconsin and Michigan, where Tea Party extremists have started to roll back the clock on a century’s worth of progress.

Ultimately, Rick Perry’s hustle about Texas is exactly that: a hustle. The Red State “taker” model is, as a growing number of Americans are starting to realize, one giant scam to benefit the billionaires and corporate elites who fund the Republican Party. That’s why North Carolinians gather every Monday outside the state capital in Raleigh to protest the Republican hijacking of their state legislature. They’ve caught onto the con and are trying to stop the spread of the Texas model.

Marylanders and Americans everywhere: don’t listen to Rick Perry. It’s time to mess with Texas.

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