[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Waco still keeps a liberal flame alive in Texas’ heartYou and Mr. Lind are giving Waco a bad name, and Waco has produced some solid liberals, including our state representative, Jim Dunnam. Waco’s city council currently is made up of four Democrats and one Republican. Its daily newspaper is quite good, with a moderate-liberal editorial bent ― it’s probably as good or better for local coverage than the daily in so-called “liberal” Austin, which is very poor.
Baylor University, for its part, has been a moderate force in the war within the Southern Baptist Convention, as fundamentalists press the fight for the soul of that denomination. Baylor boasts an academic center for the study of separation of church and state. Historically, the populist “Grange” movement began south of Waco but well north of Lyndon Johnson’s home base in Austin and the Texas hill country, whose liberalism stemmed from the influx of Communist and leftist refugees from the 1848 revolutions in Europe. By contrast, liberals in Waco have historically been populist farmers in the Jim Hightower vein. Gerrymandered districts may give Waco its first Republican congressman next year since reconstruction, and while some of these have been Dixiecrats, some have been solid Democrats.
Never forget that Texas elected Senator Ralph Yarborough to statewide office more than once, Jim Hightower as recently as the 1980s and Ann Richards in 1990. The right has temporarily achieved supremacy here, but that victory may be as fleeting as it was in California not long ago.
Religion and politics do mix well here, and today’s Republican Party should be criticized for that. But their predominance should not be overstated, even in Waco.
by Scott Henson