Politics of Texas
Texas had been a one-party state for almost a century. After Civil War and up to the late 1970s, Democratic Party was supported by a stable majority of the population. Texans had tended to elect Democrats, because they represented the interests of the hard-working class demonstrating American patriotism and Christian values. The Democratic Party seemed to have rooted within this state and had an undisputable reputation: Democrats survived two world wars and Great Depression. In spite of long democratic domination, the party had tree antagonistic groups: conservatives, who were represented by business classes of the society, resistant to developing of civil rights for ethnic minorities; liberals – adamant supporters of civil right movement; and opposing pro-business social groups and moderates, who tried to keep balance between these two segments partially accepting the views of both.
The political environment has changed with the rise of the civil rights movement in 60s-70s. By that time, the division between allies within the party widened. One part was represented by white and conservative members. Mostly, they were southern Democrats, the heart of traditional Democratic rule in the state. The other part was liberal northern Democrats together with ethnic minorities. The antagonistic moods within the party were strengthened during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. Civil rights movement catalyzed the process and caused greater disagreements between Democrats. Political rule of Democratic Party was based mainly on “white” electorate keeping African-Americans off the voting roll that also caused negative moods among the southern Democrats.
Dissatisfaction of conservative side in Democratic Party reached its climax when Lyndon Johnson signed Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). This act was considered as pandering to ethnic minorities and resulted in southern Democrats being convinced that the Democratic Party was pandering to African-Americans and ethnic groups. As a result, the majority of the votes were given to Republican candidate Richard Nixon during 1986 presidential campaign.
From now on, the state never returned to voting for Democrats. At that moment, Republicans were calling for decreasing of taxes that added more and more followers to the Party. The active “black” support for Democratic Party contributed into strengthening the position of the white elite. Therefore, internal antagonistic moods within the Democratic Party were not the only reason for the rise of Republicans. The economy of Texas diversified, and population grew that added new “doubting” electorate. New members of the society as well as those who opposed transformations in the Texas Democratic Party had a good alternative. Therefore, the Republican Party became a potent and well-organized alternative.
A new political era began in 1961, when the first Republican senator was elected in Texas. This senator was John Tower. The turning point in Republican climb to power was marked by the election of Bill Clements as the first Republican Governor in Texas in 1978. The irony of the situation is that rise of the Republican party at first bestowed Texans a political choice. However, with the course of time, Republicanism in Texas was a recurrence of the one-party rule just like under the Democrats.