Matt Yglesias almost makes sense today. Well, he tries, anyway.
He writes about Gov. Rick Perry’s “nuclear-strength” TV ad that’s created to lure New York businesses to Texas. The thesis of the ad is that New York taxes too much and Texas taxes far less, so Texas is a better place for business. Hard to argue with that. The ad also slams Bloomberg’s soda totalitarianism, to play up Texas’ libertarian attitudes. It’s so full of Lone Star brag that it’s natural that Texans will love it and the rest of the world may be tempted to tell us to shove it. The tagline is full of what Zo might call macho sauce: “Texas is calling. Your opportunity awaits.”
Yeah. If you’re a Texan, that ought to give you chills. As someone who made the move back to Texas from blue Maryland four years ago, it warms my heart.
By every objective measure, Texas is in fact the land of opportunity among the large states. It has racked up so many business-journal accolades that we’ve stopped counting. Its unemployment rate remains below the national average and well below that of the other large states. But in the face of the facts, and in an attempt to make sense, Yglesias writes:
Now I think Perry’s basic thesis here is wrong. But when you understand what’s wrong with it, you’ll also see that the kind of dismissive liberal sneering Jon Chait directs at Texas is misguided. How do I know that Perry is wrong? It’s simple. If New York was a terrible place to live, work, and do business, then it would be cheap to live in New York.
Let’s roll back a few years to the era before Rudy Giuliani was mayor. New York City was in fact a terrible place to live and work. Times Square was overrun with drug dealers and hookers. Murder rates were soaring. Unions dominated commerce and government. They still do. And it was expensive at the same time. It wasn’t expensive because so many people were clamoring to get in from outside. It was expensive and remains expensive because taxes are high, its government is massive, and because its people tolerate that. In fact, they must positively love it. They keep voting for it year after year after year. The New York City Council is pondering making a policing decision that will bring the bad old lawless days back.
Texans like smaller government that leaves law-abiding citizens alone while it puts criminals away for a long time. That’s what we keep voting for. We’re rewarding ourselves with safer communities, more liberty, more jobs, and a less intrusive government. Our attitude is that New Yorkers can have their big government if they want, just keep it out of Texas. Democrats’ attitude, on the other hand, is that they want very much to spread their failure and statism as far and wide as they can. To put it bluntly, they would destroy Texas right now if they could. Liberals like the opposite of what Texans like. They like big government that pesters everybody and coddles criminals. Hey, don’t blame me for saying it like that. That’s what they keep voting for. Decade after decade. Recall Bill Clinton, the “new Democrat.” He claimed he was against all that stuff that liberals like. Liberals held their noses to elect him, but they’ve pined for a Barack Obama in their hearts all along and now they have him.
Now, here’s why the Jonathan Chaits of the world either sneer at us or ignore our success. It hurts them politically.
They really believe that the state should be master over all. They won’t say it that clearly, but everything they do say points in that direction. But California and New York stubbornly keep proving them wrong. Texas, most stubbornly, keeps poking them in their blinded eyes.
Liberals want to win in Texas, badly. They don’t care for us or what we stand for, but we’re a big electoral prize. Republicans are no longer viable nationally if Texas goes blue. So they’re ignoring our success and biding their time, hoping that demographics will do for them what their policies will not, and hand Texas to them. It just doesn’t serve their interests to even talk about Texas, except either in stories about how the next great Democrat effort will turn it blue, or to slam us for statistics at the edges of debates. We have too many uninsured, they say — leaving out the fact that that millions of those uninsured are not in the state legally. Liberals are not interested in a real policy discussion about what makes Texas tick, and how our success might be replicated. Texas stands as a shining argument against everything liberals believe in.
What I’m getting at is, it’s not to Democrats’ peril to ignore Texas’ success. It’s to their peril to talk about it at all. Not talking about it is a strategic decision on their part. It’s not an unfounded one, when you consider how Democrats buy and manipulate the low-information voting segments out there. If Democrats and their media allies don’t talk about something, and it’s not accompanied by a headline screaming KATE UPTON TOPLESS ON A HORSE or KIM KARDASHIAN HAS KANYE’S BABY, it didn’t happen.
And so, to millions of Americans out there, Texas’ success doesn’t prove anything because isn’t happening at all.