ONE of the first plays by America’s tea-party tendency came in April 2009 in Austin, the capital of Texas. After speaking at an anti-tax rally, Rick Perry, the governor, intimated that Texas might think about secession “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people”. Grandstanding like this is normal in Texas. What is more surprising is that, as the tea-party movement surged through the 2010 election cycle, Texas actually turned out to be one of the less incendiary states.
And Mr Perry is now sounding less fiery than some had feared. Earlier this month he easily won re-election to his third full term. He then set off on a short national tour to promote his new book, “Fed Up!” Fighting words, but his prescriptions—“repeal Obamacare”, “adopt certain important structural reforms”—are common enough. Some wonder whether Mr Perry has presidential ambitions for 2012. He says no, and may mean it: last week, in San Diego, he accepted a post as head of the Republican Governors Association.
Texas might also feel the force of a resurgent right over immigration. The state takes a fairly balanced view of border issues in general and, for cultural and economic reasons, tends to support immigration more than the country as a whole. When Arizona passed its draconian anti-immigration law, for example, Mr Perry said this was “not the right direction for Texas”. Some legislators, however, disagree, and one has already filed a bill modelled on Arizona’s.
The governor’s view is the more popular. But Democrats are worried that an Arizona-style bill might nonetheless make its way to his desk. In that case, 2011 may be the year that Mr Perry becomes the moderating influence on Texas politics. Stranger things have happened.
I think it is interesting that this international publication pays so much attention to Texas... more so than many national publications based in New York...