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relations that we find old bars dropping. There is in Texas today far more tolerance of diversity in life style than at any time since the passing of the frontier. By comparison with 1954, it is now a veritable Bohemia. Granted, the shift was grudging and quite spotty, but with a little care one can now drink, fornicate, abort, dress, dope, and loaf with a freedom unprecedented in Texas. Another noteworthy set of changes involves the place of residence and economic pursuits of the citizenry. The processes of urbanization and suburbanization were already well underway by 1954, but the two following decades saw their culmination. Today, Texas consists mostly of a handful of sprawling metropolitan areas linked together by four-lane ribbons of asphalt. In between the metropolitan centers one finds scattered towns and small cities gamely trying to survive, and a countryside stripped of its population and character \(it is now about as hard to find a family mostly conducted on a large scale, continues to be a significant part of the Texas economy, but the past 20 years have finally destroyed the base for the agrarian tradition so much a part of the history of Texas. This massive re-deployment of the population has taken place within the framework of an increasingly diversified economy. The industrial sector has broadened and expanded, but not so rapidly as the commercial, financial, and public sectors. The result has been a continued expansion of white collar employment. The Texas economy today bulges with middle class, professional, and white collar groups; they now set the tone and pace of economic and social life. This transformation of the economy has certainly improved the living conditions of most Texans. By any of the customary measures, such as indoor plumbing, air conditioning; automobile ownership, recreational opportunities, and so forth, life is easier and more enjoyable than it was 20 years ago, such problems as air and water pollution, destruction on the highways, and urban blight to the contrary notwithstanding. It is important to see, however, that the economic upheaval of the past 20 years has not been accompanied by any radical re-distribution of income, nor by any major shift of power from one class or group to another. Many individuals, of course, have experienced considerable upward mobility, but there has been little change in the relative socio-economic status of the various groups. SUBSTANTIAL change has also taken place in the political sector. For one thing, the complexion of the contending forces has been altered. Abolition of the 58 The Texas Observer poll tax has expanded the opportunity for participation in electoral politics. As noted above, blacks and Mexican-Americans are playing a much larger role, particularly at the local level but also in state politics. Organized labor today is both more muscular and more respectable \(it is hard to imagine “The Port Arthur Story” having current malaise, the Texas Republican Party has come a long way since 1954, when there was hardly an elected official at any level who would admit being a Republican. The Democratic Party is still split ; between liberal and conservative factions, but the distance between them and the bitterness of their conflict have diminished somewhat. There have been other political changes. One finds today less demagoguery and less open manipulation of prejudice and irrationality, though the intellectual level of political discourse hasn’t exactly soared. Houston’s Minute Women faded a long time ago, and the attorney general hasn’t found it necessary of late to investigate communist subversion of state government. With a few conspicuous exceptions, political campaigns are more professionally managed today, and candidates rely far more heavily on mass media advertising to get political messages to the voters. Partly for that reason, the financial costs of campaigning have been climbing at a rate far in excess of the devaluation of the dollar. The social, economic, and political changes sketched above have two things in common. First, they have been incremental in nature, advancing in a piecemeal, step by step fashion. \(Twenty years of gradual adjustments can provide change just as extensive as a major upheaval at infrequent intervals, and I mean no criticism of Second, these incremental changes reflect primarily the impact of “outside” forces \(e.g., the federal role in of established institutions and processes, rather than any conscious public choice or public directive. That assertion is not meant to deny the importance of particular individuals nor to imply a predestinarian perspective. Rather, the point is that there has been little political leadership in recent Texas history. This condition has been most recently and strikingly demonstrated by the fiasco of the 1974 Constitutional Convention, but its manifestations are all about. Consider the domain of public policy. One would be hard-pressed to name a single significant new policy that has originated in Texas in the past 20 years; to the extent that state policies have changed it is the result of pressure from the national government, or of tinkering with pre-existing policies, or of belated borrowing from other states. \(Example: Texas is now far ahead of the rest of the nation in allowing voter registration by mail, but that is the direct result of federal court decisions invalidating the poll tax and the annual voter registration system that replaced it, and of an ancient state policy of allowing poll taxes to be paid by THIS LACK of political leadership means that in one crucial respect the state of Texas is unchanged: Now as in 1954 it cannot initiate solutions to public problems in a timely and suitable way. Twenty years ago, when the agricultural buildup of the South Plains was still Underway, a host of knowledgeable were publicly warning of the dangers of unrestricted withdrawal of irrigation water from the Ogallala formation. Yet neither then nor later has the state moved to deal with that problem, other than by an ill-conceived scheme \(rejected by Texas from East Texas and the Mississippi River. To take another example, it is by now abundantly clear that we cannot continue to rely on the private automobile as the primary means of transportation within our larger cities. Yet the state has provided virtually nothing in the way of strong positive leadership to cope with the problems caused by the automobile. I do not pretend to understand fully why there is so little political leadership in Texas. No doubt part of the explanation is the sheer size, diversity, and complexity of the state. It is probable too that we still suffer from the effects of the frontier tradition; early Texans were’ notoriously hard to govern, and to lead them was virtually impossible. Perhaps our institutional arrangements help to perpetuate weak leadership. In the 20th century in the United States much of the responsibility for leadership has shifted to the chief executive, but the Texaspolitical system gives the governor very little real power. It also seems to be the case that the public sector does not attract the best and the brightest, perhaps because of the difficulty of building a successful political career, and perhaps as well because of the abundant opportunities to make it in the private sector. Such explanations undoubtedly are entitled to some weight, but I am inclined to assign the greatest importance to a loss of purpose on the part of nominal leaders. How can they persuade us to seek nobler goals, how can they overcome our selfish and parochial tendencies, if they have no higher ends in mind? But it ‘would be unfair to pin all the blame for our leaderless state on the practicing politicians. To be sure, some of them lack the basic skills needed, and those who are highly ‘skilled have often frittered away their talents. \(Consider the case of *former Gov. John Connally, a highly skilled practitioner who had political strength and