What Beto Revealed

For Texas conservatives, a surprisingly strong showing by Democrats in their deep-red state in November’s midterm election was an unexpected wake-up call.  The results also set me to thinking about my own personal history with the Lone Star State.  And how, in the absence of vigilance, the long, proud heritage of a particular place can so easily be put at risk.

To a kid growing up in the soft, sun-kissed climes of Southern California in the 1950’s and 60’s, the family’s annual two-week trek to visit relatives in the Texas Panhandle was an exotic and welcome respite.  There was nothing soft about the High Plains of the Panhandle.  The northernmost part of the state was farming and ranching and oil and gas country, and its residents—my grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins—were independent, realistic, willful people who worked hard and knew the difference between right and wrong.  They listened to Paul Harvey’s midday radio broadcast and attended church on Wednesday nights and twice on Sundays.

My late uncle W.C. Crawford, “Dub” for short, exemplified the breed.  Known as the Odessa Kid during his days as a cowhand, he went on to help start up natural-gas plants for Roy Huffington, a legendary Houston wildcatter.  Dub told me how his father, a farmer who was born in Williamson County, Texas, in 1878, had instilled self-confidence...

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