Lone Star Rising

The development of a uniquely Texan conservatism has occurred over the last quarter century. A central figure in this transition was the late M.E. Bradford, professor of English at the University of Dallas, literary essayist in the tradition of the Vanderbilt Agrarians, and prominent critic of the political Lincoln.

In 1972, Bradford rallied to the cause of George Wallace, only to see this last important example of Democratic populism halted by a bullet in the Alabama governor's spine. With the Party of Jefferson and Jackson dominated by the McGovern left and the new sexual and moral minorities, Bradford swallowed hard and turned to the Party of Lincoln. He became a prominent early backer of Ronald Reagan and convinced many of his fellow Southern intellectuals to follow. Even when vicious calunmies denied him the post of chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1981, Bradford remained loyal to the populist conservatism found within the GOP. He led his own last charge in 1992 on behalf of Pat Buchanan's first presidential campaign. Two years later, conservative Republicanism was in the ascendance in the old Texas Republic, heralded by Senator Phil Gramm's presidential bid, the election of a Republican governor, significant gains in the state legislature, and the victory of a strong movement conservative as chairman of the state party. A new magazine, The Texan Republic, even emerged to give voice...

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