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state. Yet, somehow, as the better part of the Reagan and Bush’s “longest period of postwar growth” passed the city by, Lubbock’s loyalty seemed unrequited. Large segments of the manufacturing base have disappeared since 1984 and the downward slope of economic growth was altered only by a few good cotton crops in the late 1980s. But favorable weather falls beyond the control of presidents and chamber of commerce bumper-sticker campaigns. Bush left little to chance in Lubbock County, dropping in to chat with farmers in Shallowater late this fall. Cynics may asked if the visit to Lubbock contained an element of Gramm-standing trumpeting to certain constituencies the benefits of programs you oppose, a measure perfected by Sen. Phil Gramm. Although Bush publicly disparaged the polls showing him trailing Clinton, he realized the need to win big in Lubbock County to carry Texas. So the President, Barbara and the rest of the clan attended to the South Plains, while national columnists wondered why the campaign did not give the same attention to Cleveland or Los Angeles. . Even as Lubbock’s voters rang up big margins for Bush, they returned John Montford, a Democrat, to the state Senate, with 63 percent of the vote. Montford is one of a vanishing breed in this part of Texas a conservative Democrat. Until a dozen years ago, conservatives in Lubbock County still called themselves Democrats. Republicans despite a decadeslong presence in Lubbock County had to wait for the first Reagan landslide to capture their first countywide office. The conversion has been so complete that Montford is one of the few Democrats who can win a countywide contested race. The exception for Montford, oddly, was at Texas Tech, where the young Republicans have not discovered ticket-splitting. One Tech precinct voted 62 percent and another 58 percent for Ed Gray, a mystery candidate who had few ties to Lubbock. The only attraction appeared to be the “R” after his name on the ballot. Maybe the students are too young to appreciate the concept of “yellow dog” Democrats or too cynical from the Reagan-Bush years to grasp that certain commodities like college educations include a price tag that someone has to pay. Since Montford is a conservative Democrat rather than a Republican, he retains an understanding that “no new taxes” is inconsistent with the idea of providing basic services for education, prisons or highways. Recently; Montford has cautiously suggested that the state’s tax structure should be made more progressive. Before the election, Montford even uttered the “I” word at a tax-planning seminar hosted by Texas Tech’s business school. Mystery opponent or not, mentioning a state income tax to people learning to minimize taxes carries a certain risk. One seminar participant suggested that the state needs to raise the “sin tax.” Montford gently reminded him that “it’s hard to find all the sin to be able to tax it. When I was [district attorney], someone told me to know the difference between sin and crime and leave sin alone,” Montford said. Traditionally, Lubbock prides itself on knowing what sin is and driving it from the city. Consequently, sin clusters just outside the city limits. The old honky tonks such as the Cotton Club stand empty now, but the neon-lit “Strip” still offers the six-packs of beer and bottles of liquor not sold inside the city. And lately even the concept of keeping sin outside the city is unclear, as three city council members including the two minority members push for a referendum to allow alcoholic beverage sales within, the city. Coming next will be the battle for the soul of Lubbock with a strange coalition of Baptists and bootleggers fighting against the owners of the convenience store chains. Some folks like the planning commission members who decided two days after,the election to prohibit a male revue and lingerie show at a club still recognize and doggedly fight against sin. The existing bar featuring topless females for the past two years set up a new outpost just outside the city limits next to the old Cotton Club just in case. Molly Ivins once suggested that the reason Lubbock produced so many notable countrywestern musicians was because it still understood sin. The honky tonks provided a contribution to the region’s culture if only as training grounds for musicians who end up migrating to Austin. Unfortunately, topless bars play the same dreadful recorded music heard elsewhere. Maybe a Gresham’s law applies to sin, and the new stuff is never as good as the sin of the past. Lubbock continues to make the distinction about sin. Bush should welcome coming to a place where we still understand sin. However, since he’s not running for president any more, maybe he doesn’t want to hang out with such folks any longer. AFTERWORD Come Home to Lubbock BY PHILIP PARKER Lubbock ONE DILEMMA George Bush faces as he packs up at the White House is what hometown to return to he seems to claim so many. He should consider coming home to Lubbock. While Bush never established a physical residence here as he did in Houston or Midland, he enjoys a certain metaphysical kinship with the Hub of the South Plains. I recall on election night how CBS’ Dan Rather observed that Bush was losing the presidency even after commanding two “winning wars” in Panama and the Persian Gulf. Bush’s squandering of a 90-plus approval rating just after Desert Storm reminds me of the story of an incumbent Laredo city council member who lost re-election even though he had two cemeteries located in his district. Maybe the post-Desert Storm ratings were an aberration. Flip back to earlier in his administration, and you see a less-confident Bush shrilly defending his role as Reagan’s heir. In March of 1989 Bush even sounded like his predecessor; who was always so fond of reading the public his mail. Bush quoted “a fellow from Lubbock, Texas.” “All the people in Lubbock think things are going just great,” said Bush. So began Lubbock’s 15 minutes of the spotlight as the new Peoria of Bush’s heartland. The pulse of the “real America” beats on the windswept South Plains. Then came the bumper stickers and full-page ads in out-of-state newspapers, by which city leaders tried to convince folks of the existence of some tangible efforts to improve local economic conditions. “D.C. phone home,” announced the new advertising campaign promoting Lubbock. Scrape off the old bumper sticker from the last campaign and attach the new slogan. Calls came in from throughout the country and “Good Morning America” talked to the breakfast crowd at a downtown Lubbock restaurant. A few election year sidebars echoed the “Lubbock as pulse of Bush’s America” theme. Most of the attention passed quickly. Yet Lubbock displays the virtue Bush reveres most loyalty. In a record turnout, Lubbock Country voters gave the Bush-Quayle ticket 58 percent of their Nov. 3 vote. Given the closeness of the statewide race, Lubbock had something to say about Bush’s win in his adopted Philip Parker is a former newspaper reporter attending graduate school in public administration at Texas Tech University. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23 ,A w *g*, ,, ,,,4 ,P.t . ,”