By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Texas led the nation in the number of Latino officeholders, despite the state’s violent history of racial conflict. Exploring this and other seemingly contradictory realities of Texas’s political landscape since World War II, Democratizing Texas Politics captures powerful, interrelated forces that drive intriguing legislative dynamics. These factors include the long history of Mexican American activism; population growth among Mexican American citizens of voting age; increased participation among women and minorities at state and national levels in the Democratic Party, beginning in the 1960s; the emergence of the Republican Party as a viable alternative for Southern conservatives; civil rights legislation; and the transition to a more representative two-party system thanks to liberal coalitions.
Culling extensive archival research, including party records and those of both Latino activists and Anglo elected officials, as well as numerous interviews with leading figures and collected letters of some of Texas’s most prominent voices, Benjamin Márquez traces the slow and difficult departure from a racially uniform political class to a diverse one. As Texas transitioned to a more representative two-party system, the threat of racial tension and political exclusion spurred Mexican Americans to launch remarkably successful movements to ensure their incorporation. The resulting success and dilemmas of racially based electoral mobilization, embodied in pivotal leaders such as Henry B. González and Tony Sánchez, is vividly explored in Democratizing Texas Politics.
Chapter One. Mexican Americans and Social Change
Chapter Two. The 1950s--A Decade in Flux
Chapter Three. The Dilemmas of Ethnic Solidarity
Chapter Four. The Quiet Revolution
Chapter Five. A Two-Party State
Chapter Six. Tony Sánchez for Governor
Chapter Seven. The Long and Grinding Road Bibliography Index
Benjamin Márquez is Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His book, Mexican-American Political Organizations: Choosing Issues, Taking Sides won the Best Book Award from the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.