Rick Perry's America, Texas-Style

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks to NPR about Texas and Govenor Rick Perry's bid for the Republican nomination for President.

JACKIE LYDEN, host: You heard Ron mention Rick Perry's entry into the national scene this week. The Texas governor has started taking his story of the state on the road, presenting Texas to the rest of America as a sort of conservative Eden with coyotes. But which story would that be? As NPR's John Burnett reports from Austin, there are very different ways in which to look at the Lone Star State. . .

BURNETT: At Southern Methodist University in Dallas, there's an oft-quoted political scientist name Cal Jillson who's just written a book called, "Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy." Jillson says he wrote the book to question the state's political ethos.

CAL JILLSON: The Lone Star model is touted nationally frequently in the press, and frequently in comparison with California to say that the old high-service model has failed and that the new small government low-service model of Texas has succeeded. My sense is that Texas boosterism is so rampant, that we need some sort of antidote to it, because the Texas model is insufficient.

BURNETT: In this ultraconservative state, Jillson posits the heresy that the Texas way is not necessarily the best way, and he does so at the precise moment when Rick Perry is proclaiming that it is.

JILLSON: It's a difficult state to be poor in. It's a wonderful state to be wealthy in.

BURNETT: Cal Jillson says the Texas model does some things well, such as attracting corporations, with its relatively low taxes and permissive environmental regulations. But he says it does some things very poorly like funding education and access to health care. Texas ranks 51st nationally, dead last, in the percentage of adults with high school diplomas, and Texas has the largest percentage of uninsured people in the nation. One in four Texans has no medical insurance.

JILLSON: But Texas has always stood for small government, low taxes, personal responsibility, and government staying out of your way as much as possible, and that's both a positive and a negative part of the Texas story.

Read the full transcript of the broadcast.

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