Selection from The importance of Place When it Comes to Politics
A place carries a continuity of knowledge and passes it from generation to generation. How the place works, what makes it turn.
When there’s disruption in this continuity, learning transpires by costly lessons of what the place will and will not tolerate.
Such learning risks decline. Perhaps demise.
In my late teens and early twenties, I rambled around a region built on agriculture, education and health care with a well-worn copy of Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” in my truck console, an authentic 1964 Goldwater-Miller bumper sticker and anti-government talk shows blaring on AM radio.
That was the late 1990s and early 2000s. A disruptive political period in which West Texan social conservatism finally divorced the Democratic Party and native fiscal frugality married Republicanism, a party that, outside of Reconstruction and Larry Combest’s coordination with Charlie Stenholm in the 2002 Farm Bill, had made little contribution to the region.
At the time, the incongruence of my developing political identity to my surrounding economic realities never even occurred to me. Then I grew up.
Driving around West Texas today, one plainly sees a century’s worth of good government.
On long stretches of state highways, expansive landscapes of crops, ranch land and oil fields are proof of America’s historical commitment to policy that incentivized domestic food, fiber and fuel production as a matter of national defense. A defense that can also be immediately applied by a few regional military bases. Throughout the region’s constellation of rural communities, school districts are the lifeblood of any community as well as a primary employer.
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