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Political Culture in Houston

Professor Daniel Elazar is one of the founders of political cultures theory. He reduced the political culture of the United States into three basic types: moralistic (think New England), traditionalistic (think Alabama) and individualistic (think Montana).

Texas is seen as a hybrid of traditionalistic and individualistic cultures, which makes sense. Texas is a huge state, geographically, and is amazingly diverse. It’s history is part pre-civil war plantation (East Texas) part cowboy (West Texas), and is closely connected, geographically and culturally, to Mexico.

I think Houston is really hard to squeeze into one category. Houston is the largest city in the United States to have no zoning ordinance. Houstonians prefer to let property owners, rather than local governments, decide what they can and can’t do on their property. Houston elected the first openly-lesbian mayor in 2009, and she was reelected twice without serious opposition. Wendy Davis, a very liberal Democratic candidate for governor, carried the City of Houston in 2014 despite losing by a huge margin statewide. Houstonians voted 60-40 a year later to repeal an “equal rights” ordinance that would have created special protections for gay, lesbian and transgender Houstonians, then voted a month after that to elect a more liberal Sylvester Turner mayor over the more conservative Bill King. In 2018, underfunded Democratic candidate Lupe Valdez won a majority of Houston votes while losing by nearly 14 percentage points statewide. Houston’s at-large (city-wide) council elections have been won by conservative Republicans (Mike Knox), liberal Democrats (Sue Lovell), Latinos (Orlando Sanchez), African-Americans (Amanda Edwards), Asians (Gordon Quan), and nearly every other type of Houstonian.

Is Houston more individualistic or traditionalistic? Or is it something else entirely? Does it fit into any of Dr. Elazar’s categories?

Write a 2 – 5 page (double-spaced, normal font no bigger than 12, normal margins, etc) college-level essay telling me about Houston’s political culture. I have some resources you can use below, but feel free to find your own, and to draw on your personal experience as a long-time Houstonian, or someone completely new to the city. 

Submit in Word. Cite your sources. 

Additional Resources

Read more about Dr. Elazar’s political cultures theory here: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/amgovernment/chapter/state-political-culture/

Wendy Davis carried Houston, but did terribly statewide: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/11/04/abbott-crushes-wendy-davis-gop-sweep/

Houston was the first major city with an openly lesbian mayor (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/us/politics/13houston.html?_r=0 ), but voted overwhelmingly to repeal the equal rights ordinance (http://www.chron.com/politics/election/local/article/HERO-results-6608562.php ).

In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried historically-conservative Harris County by a wide margin: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/11/09/see-which-counties-texas-trump-and-clinton-won/ 

The Chronicle asks – Is Houston more conservative than we thought? http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Is-Houston-more-conservative-than-we-think-11146572.php 

The Economist says Houston is a little to the left of Fort Worth and El Paso, but not as liberal as Dallas, or near as liberal as Austin: https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/08/daily-chart-0 

Where should Houston go from here? Former mayoral candidate Bill King weighs in:  http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/The-outlook-for-Houston-is-up-to-us-12496955.php?utm_campaign=email-premium&utm_source=CMS%20Sharing%20Button&utm_medium=social 

Is Houston’s population about to pass Chicago’s? Not as fast as we thought.http://www.houston.org/pdf/research/quickview/Economy_at_a_Glance.pdf
 

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