Rick Perry, the governor of the Lone Star State (or Republic, depending on when you ask him) will make his track record in Texas the focus of his presidential campaign. Governor Perry has packaged himself and his record as the “Texas Miracle,” pointing to Texas’ economic success during the recent recession. However, basic information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau illustrate a much different scene.
Texas has a lot of issues that need more than prayer rallies to get resolved. Over a quarter of Texas children live in poverty, and with an 8.4% unemployment rate, employment in the Lone Star State is worse than that of New York (8.0%), Pennsylvania (7.8%), and Mitt Romney’s former state of Massachusetts (7.6%). The majority of the jobs added in Texas were minimum wage service positions. Also, Texas has more uninsured citizens than almost any other state.
But miracles are possible.
Texas is one of the leading developers and producers of alternative energy. The state is one of the fastest-growing population centers in the country, and Texas’ business-friendly environment is a huge draw to firms looking to relocate. Texas will also be home to one of the first high speed rail lines in the United States. Diverse and qualified people from all over the world are flocking to work in well-paying jobs, many of them at firms that are developing the country’s next generation of energy supply. These factors are the foundation of the true “Texas Miracle” that has yet to take place.
Governor Perry may be able to “Obama-bash” his way to a GOP primary victory, but the tactic of combining inflammatory rhetoric with brash political showmanship will only carry a candidate so far. As the most recent results of the Rasmussen poll indicate, Governor Perry has the lead among the Republican core. But likely GOP primary voters represent the most dedicated and ideologically energized conservatives. If the governor of Texas is fortunate enough to receive the GOP nomination, he will have to do a lot more than cry treason and pray for rain if he wants to capture the broad range of independent voters and minorities that cast President Obama to the presidency in 2008.
This state and this nation need leaders who will acknowledge tradition, but are not afraid to invest and commit to policies and initiatives that will keep our social and economic engines running for generations to come. Governor Perry will certainly reference many supposed miracles during his run for the White House, but the real determinant of his success on the national stage will rest on whether he chooses to campaign on the fabricated economic “miracle” of the past few years, or if he chooses to focus on the real miracles that are made possible by moderate, rational leadership, and sound policy.
Owen Uscher is a Neeley MBA student (2012) from Fort Worth, Texas.