Downtown Austin, the seat of Texas politics, was swarming with legislatures, policy analyst, lobbyist, staffers, and concerned citizens. The 83rd Legislative session, beginning last Tuesday, initiated the discussions, policies, votes and bills that will determine whether the Texas Model will remain.
The Texas Model – known as low taxation, limited regulation, entrepreneurial drive, and freedom – has resulted in an increase in population as more people move to the Lone Star state. Whether or not this model will continue remains dependent in large part on the decisions our representatives make and if these decisions remain committed to upholding the public’s sentiment for freedom.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 11th Policy Orientation set a tone for discussions about issues facing Texans. I had the privilege of providing social media coverage during this year’s Orientation along with several other bloggers.
A policy intensive boot camp, one comes to the Orientation ready to learn the dynamics about issues ranging from media coverage and energy to school choice and federal mandates (to name a few). The three-day event started with The Movement and The Media.
The Movement and The Media Session I
The session began with author Erica Grieder and moderator Josh Treviño discussing Grieder’s premise in her soon-coming-book titled Big, Hot, Cheap, & Right: What America Can Learn from Texas. The book’s focus is to inform non-Texans, the rest of the nation and international audiences, on what defines Texas and how the state operates. From her perspective, Grieder explained what makes Texas “right” in terms of low taxation, transparency, and what she considers its “uniqueness” – “intense description of American ideals.” Grieder acknowledges Texas’ growth both in population and importance on the national scene.
As far as replicating the Texas model in other states, Grieder does not consider the principles as something that will work in every other community. Treviño provided a counter to Grieder’s closing remarks, relaying that “there is nothing about Texas that another state cannot replicate.”
Overall, Grieder’s premise for the book comes from the perspective that Texas’ voting block is conservative, socially moderate, and right of center. She described the large city governments as not particularly liberal, views the Constitution as porous, and is willing to experiment with different policies to test what works.
During the question and answer session, comments from the audience expressed that Texans value their freedom and many move here to leave states that hinder individual liberty. With an emphasis on freedom also comes the perspective that the Constitution is a stable document that does not need changing. And, as for non-liberal leaning city governments such as Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, ordinances like Austin’s bag-ban may pose a different perception.
The Movement and The Media Session II
The second discussion took place with Research fellow for The Heartland Institute and editor of The Transom, Ben Domenech and moderator Josh Treviño continuing on the media topic.
Domenech provided an overview on the source for mainstream media’s news. He relayed that journalists and reporters provide their stories based on personal worldviews. He also expressed that journalists tend to have a broad perspective on the topics they cover rather than an in-depth knowledge. In essence, they provide “more generalization with assumptions rather than specific expertise.” Hence, Domenech argued that journalists are more easily manipulated because they have to depend on people other than themselves for specifics. He conveyed that the journalistic culture is a close connection between journalists and politicians.
Domenech provides the following tips on assessing the media:
- View media with skepticism. Citizens need to know the truth and speak up as well as function as fact checkers.
- Social media has opened the door for real time information. The people will work out the difficulties.
- Because many have not received education on the nation’s founding principles, conservatives need to take the facts/data and learn how to articulate in a way that the average person can understand.
What are your thoughts on the media and its coverage of Texas, politics and the news?