There’s no doubt the world is in a crazy place right now, and Texas is no exception. It seems we’re entering a whole new era in the history of the Lone Star State. Here are 10 recent developments that seem to signal the end of Texas as we’ve known it.
1. The end of UT-A&M.
With Texas A&M football’s move to the SEC (that’s the Southeastern Conference to all you non-football people) this year, comes the possible end of the annual football game between the Aggies and the Longhorns. This would mark the end of a rivalry that began in 1894. I’m not even sure what happens on Thanksgiving weekend without this game, but I think next year we may well find out.
2. The end of rain.
As we learned from this recent Observer story, we are in a bad way when it comes to rain. This latest drought—already one of the worst in recorded history—could extend well into 2012, and perhaps beyond, says state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. Remember tubing? Remember when the state wasn’t on fire? Me neither.
3. The end of the Space Shuttle program.
This summer marked the official end of the NASA space shuttle program, which was housed at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We won’t be sending anyone into space for quite a while. You have to wonder how many kids will even be interested in space. It reminds me of a bit British comic Eddie Izzard does about what his teacher told him when he announced, as a child, that he wanted to be an astronaut one day. “Look, you’re English, so scale it back a bit.” I never imagined we’d have to say that to American kids, but with the cutbacks to the Texas public school system this year, we’ll have little money for trivial things like “science” class.
4. The end of US-Mexico border relations.
When I was growing up in Brownsville, I used to go to Mexico for lunch during high school and make it back in time for Spanish class. (Shhh, don’t tell my parents.) Gone are the days when border-dwelling Texans could safely make the five-minute drive to Mexico for low-cost haircuts and orthodontist appointments. Add to that the dang fence, and the symbiotic relationship between Texas-Mexico border communities seems a thing of the past.
5. The end of Bastrop State Park.
This summer, due to the extreme heat and unprecedented drought, 95% of Bastrop State Park’s 6,500 acres, were destroyed by wildfires. With the forest floor burned bare, park Superintendent Todd McClanahan told the Austin American-Statesman, “We call it a moonscape.” Adding that he has no idea how or when the park will recover since, “We don’t have a lot of historical data on something this tragic.”
6. The end of the Democratic winning streak in Hidalgo County.
Last year, state Rep. Aaron Peña (R-Edinburg) announced mid-term that he would be running next election season as a Republican in a district that he says has never before elected one. No matter, the Republicans just drew him up a new GOP-friendly district. Could this mark the GOP’s foray into the Rio Grande Valley, a long-held Democratic stronghold?
7. The end of Lloyd Doggett?
Democratic congressman Lloyd Doggett has been annoying Texas Republicans since before Rick Perry was one. But with this year’s redistricting-palooza, the GOP has given him a new district that could spell trouble for Anglo, liberal Democrats in Central Texas. The Austin native will be running in a mostly San Antonio, mostly Hispanic district against wonder-twin Joaquin Castro. It’s our very own version of the Obama-Clinton showdown. Who will win is anybody’s guess, but Doggett is certainly not in his comfort zone.
8. The end of political apathy.
Recent political upheaval has begat two popular movements on the right and the left. The Tea Party came first and, though it was sometimes populated by racists, it managed to get some real voting power at the state and national level. Now comes Occupy Wall Street and folks with similar movements taking off in all major Texas cities. Occupy Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Lubbock begin tomorrow (Oct. 6). Though critics complain the Occupy movement lacks focus, protesters in New York City have already gotten the support of some veteran Labor activists and uniformed military. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a sea change in the way Generation Y uses its political clout. Though Gen X and the Baby Boomers were seduced by money, Gen Y has no choice but to fight for their share of the American Dream, which, as witnessed by the above list, is going up in smoke.
9. The end of white majority.
If Texas changes in none of the other ways I have predicted, there’s no denying that the face of Texas is browner. The 2010 census informed us of that fact months ago. When the death rattle of the conservative Anglo power structure that has defined this state for so long is over, what will be left?
10. The end of Rick Perry?
There are those who say that Rick Perry’s bid for the presidency is losing momentum with every GOP debate. Between his support of providing discounted in-state college tuition to children of illegal immigrants, his poor debate skills and his unfortunately named family hunting lease, Perry may be witnessing the end of his presidential dream. If that happens, is he really going to find support in Texas? Can he successfully run for reelection in 2014 after so much controversy? And if his long reign as governor finally comes to an end, let’s take this opportunity to make some changes that help everyone and leave the cronyism behind.