Gov. Perry's luck fails him at last
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) is one lucky man, but America needs more than luck.
As governor of Texas, Gov. Perry has benefited from a booming economy based on trade traffic and oil. The price of oil wavered steadily around $20 a barrel, give or take a few dollars, after skyrocketing in the early 1980s. However, beginning in 2003 the price of oil began to rise exponentially and with varied fluctuation, including a drop in price after the stock market crash in 2008. Oil rested at $87 per barrel in 2011. During this same timeframe Louisiana’s misfortune in being hit by two hurricanes turned into quite a stroke of luck for Texas and Gov. Perry.
Now what do the price of oil and a hurricane in Louisiana have to do with the state of affairs in Texas? Well, while cattle and cotton may have once been king, Texas, as we now know it, was shaped by the discovery of oil in the early 20th century. The gushers of black gold that soared to the sky became a beacon, attracting business and inhabitants. Land parcels were sold at unprecedented values. Cities grew and prospered. When Hurricane Katrina decimated the dulled gem that is New Orleans, La., the port previously found there shifted west, a little over 300 miles west down to Houston, to be more specific. Texas, the center of the American oil business, was now also home of the largest port in the South and one of the largest ports in the country.
Tragedy and international conflict have been a boon to Gov. Perry. The cash flow from a whole myriad of industries kept the economy of Texas afloat. As a state, Texas has not felt anywhere near the brunt force of the burden caused by the economy entering a tail-spin in the last half of 2008 as many other states have. Like it or not, being able to pay the bills placates the population. Are there citizens who are angry, frustrated, or upset with the current life conditions? Yes—on both sides of the political spectrum, or maybe I should say both ends, there is a palpable level of dissatisfaction. Yet, at the end of the day, Texas could be much worse off economically.
Sadly, Gov. Perry’s luck with the economy doesn’t seem to hold as true for other aspects of state affairs and governance. Like many other Republican politicians Gov. Perry joined the bandwagon and came out of the telephone booth a man seeking the approval of the Religious Right. Sadly, this hasn’t gone so well for the state he dragged along with him. Gov. Perry and his party have had rampant control of the state Legislature. Thereby, much of what has resulted from the biennial legislative sessions has met the approval of the GOP, or at least been something they could turn a blind eye to.
The public school system is appalling, and has only gotten worse under Gov. Perry’s watch. Those appointed to the State Board of Education sought to perpetuate ideology and not knowledge. The attempts to eliminate crucial segments or persons from the history curriculum so as to minimize secularism and “leftist” ideals and ideologues were met with public outrage. The criticism coming from historians, educators, and the students themselves fell on deaf or uncaring ears. The legislation stands for now. Our Deist Founding Fathers are to be presented as Christians; Thomas Jefferson barely exists; our worst moments—such as internment camps—are to be presented in a better light; and further misrepresentations are evidenced that may easily be perceived to distort history into the worldview of social conservatives.
Now, again you my say “who cares what they do in Texas?” My answer is quite simple—you should, especially if you are a parent of young children. Texas has a large market for textbooks. The curriculum adopted by the state holds a vast amount of sway over the editors and publishers of those textbooks. Other states will have less cost-efficient methods of teaching their own curriculum. The choices are use Texas’s textbooks, California’s textbooks, or your own. Oh, the changes adopted by the Texas State Board of Education are in place for the next ten years.
It should be noted that the board saw a new chair appointed in the aftermath of public protest. Yet, that did not deter far-right members for pushing for Creationism to be taught in schools and strictly adhering to abstinence-only health education. However, recent board activity included provision to strengthen the teaching of evolution.
Gov. Perry recently streamlined and saw signed into law a bill requiring women to view a sonogram, hear a report of what they are being shown and listen to their fetus’s heartbeat at least 24 hours prior to undergoing an abortion. There are so many things that went wrong with the 2011 Texas Legislative session, but this has been among the more grating outcomes. If Gov. Perry deigns to take credit for the economy, it only follows that he should take the credit for an embarrassing legislative session as well.
Speaking of embarrassing, I can honestly say I am not sure what was worse—Gov. Perry’s inability to perform well in debates or his campaign videos, which drew the ire of YouTube viewers everywhere. As a Texan who is proud to be a Texan, I sat through every cringe-worthy moment and occurrence on the verge of screaming in frustration. He misrepresented our state and what we stand for—be it the political left or the political right. I'm sure many sighs of relief were let out when Gov. Perry suspended his bid on Jan. 19.
We Texans don’t pride ourselves on luck. We pride ourselves on our individualism—it is our heat and soul. We pride ourselves on hard work and on the great achievements, innovations and people that have come out of this state.
Gov. Perry’s luck has run out—both on the state and national level. America doesn’t need luck. America doesn’t want luck. We need character; we need innovation; we need bravery; and we will have it. As we whittle down a long list of presidential hopefuls, those qualities will continue to matter more and more.