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Observer Archives 50TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE The Texafication of the USA BY RONNIE DUGGER riving north of Austin toward Dallas during the early days of my work on the Observer, sud denly I had one of those counterintuitive ideas that chill your brain. Could it be, I thought, that instead of what we’re working forTexas growing into a more just, less racist placethe opposite will happen? The United States will become just like greedy, reactionary, racist, poverty-blighted, religion-ridden Texas? It was one of the clichs among us on the Observer that we were dragging our state, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century. But lo and behold, as of November 2nd this year, Texas has dragged the United States back into the 19th. My premonition was hard to credit, back then. After all, we were competing for the bottom among the worst of the Southern states on poverty, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation, aid for impoverished children, education, health, you name it. Apart from within the Lone Star State itself, the only equally threatening concentration of the same weird forces we were fightingthe book censors, the superpatriots, the fundamentalist zealots, gay-bashers, hate-the-poor Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush 60 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 12/3/04