A Clash of Cultures

Much is being made of the Texas legislature’s attempts to reign in local governments. From “bathroom ordinances” to ride-sharing regulations, from plastic bag bans to tree regulations, local governments are increasingly infringing on property rights. The state government is properly putting an end to many of these regulations.

But the state’s local governments aren’t happy about this. They claim that the state is usurping local control. What is really happening is a clash of cultures.

Local governments–and particularly in the state’s larger cities–want to be more like California. They want to regulate and control everything in sight. In contrast, the state government is attempting to protect property rights, though it is doing so very inconsistently.

Local governments want to control what their citizens do. The state government wants to protect the freedom of Texans to live as they choose. These are two very different views on the proper role of government.

During the Obama Administration, Texas sued the federal government 48 times. In most instances, Texas claimed that the federal government was infringing on the state’s authority. Current governor Gregg Abbott filed 31 of those suits, and now he is fighting city governments over their attempts to exercise local control.

While there is much to dislike about Abbott, he is generally right on this issue. The purpose of government is to protect individual rights. If the federal government threatens our rights, state governments have a responsibility to defend them. Similarly, if local governments threaten our rights, state governments have a responsibility to intercede.

Unfortunately, Abbott and his colleagues are very inconsistent. They fight for our freedom to do as we choose on our land, but want to control what we do with our bodies. As one example, they have stepped up their decades-long crusade to outlaw abortion. They permit gay marriage only because the Supreme Court said that they must.

Not only is there a clash of culture within Texas, there is a clash of culture within the state’s Republican party.


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