Political culture is a shared system of attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about what citizens expect government to do and how they expect it to be done. Our nation’s history and our ongoing social, economic, and political activities shape our political culture.  Political culture, like bowls of chili, are not homogeneous throughout the United States, (true Texans do not put beans in their chili). For example, there is a bowl of moralistic political culture popular in the northern portion of the United States, in which the government is the primary ingredient for promoting the public welfare and using its authority to improve the social and economic well-being of it citizens. Or, if you live in the central part of the nation, you may prefer a bowl of individualistic political culture. This recipe cuts down on government involvement in 
Old South
citizens’ private activities and is heavy on the importance of individual and private initiatives. Residents in the southern tier of states from the East coast to New Mexico relish the traditionalist political culture. In this culture, government acts as a preservative; keeping traditions and the existing social order safe from change. Only top chefs from established families or influential social groups should make this chili.  Texas has its own unique bowl of political culture. It combines a mixture of traditionalistic and individualistic ingredients with a dash of the Old South and the frontier experience. This activity focuses on how the ingredients that make up Texas political culture are reflected in its public policies and practices. 
Leave Me Alone Chili (Texas Political Culture)
Select each chili pepper and read a brief description about the attitudes and     beliefs that shape Texas' political culture. Test your knowledge regarding the influence of Texas' political culture on     its public policies and practices with the Self-check Quiz.
Self-Check Qiuz
Select the i button before beginning the activity.
Frontier ExperienceThe process of conquering the western regions of the United States in the 19th century impacted the Texan character in the following ways:  People on the frontier had to deal with whatever life brought them and make the best of it. They learned how to be self-reliant and were suspicious of a government that tried to solve their problems.  The exploration of the frontier encouraged economic development and reinforced American values like equality and competition. Because so many people were making their living in the same way, a class system became irrelevant. Nevertheless, if a settler wanted to lay claim to a section of land, a “survival of the fittest” mentality was necessary, requiring that he exert his utmost strength to get ahead of others.
Solving the problems of frontier life was often a matter of life or death. Because there was no government, each man had to settle his own scores, even if it involved killing. In the face of a deadly threat, Americans claimed the right to stand their ground and fight.  Even though settlers came from different social strata, they shared the same goal -- to make a fortune. Whether this goal was achieved depended on effort, not family background. Virtues like diligence, perseverance, and devotion were important.  Anglo Texans regarded themselves as ruggedly independent individuals who were not obligated to support other people with their taxes.
“Old South” Experience Texas reflects the political heritage of the old South, including the use of slave labor, nationally mandated desegregation, the mobilization of conservative Christians, and the ongoing immigration of people from the northern states. Like other white southerners, Anglo Texans attempted to deny full citizenship to African Americans after the end of Reconstruction. And, because of Texas' proximity to Mexico, Anglos also tried to suppress the citizenship of Latinos. The historical heritage of white people in Texas is one of extreme cultural conservatism. This conservatism extended not only to attitudes on civil rights for minority citizens but to a hostility toward labor unions and liberal political programs in general.
Individualistic Political Culture Government is viewed as a marketplace in which those with more money deservedly get more of what they want. Government should be limited and its intervention in citizens’ private activities kept to a minimum. The role of government is to protect individual rights and assure the stability of society so that individuals can pursue their own interests. Government should be passive. New policies are more likely to be initiated by interest groups or private individuals than by public officials. Politics is not a noble pursuit. It’s like any other business venture in which skill and talent prevail. Politics is perceived to be a dirty business and best left to those willing to get their hands dirty.
The role of the government is to preserve tradition and the existing social order. Social change is a threat to established practices and beliefs. The established social elite should lead the government. The elite may enact policies that benefit the general public, but that is secondary to its interests and objectives. Public policy reflects the interest of those who exercise influence and control, and the benefits of public policy go disproportionately to the elite. Family, social, and economic relationships form the basis for maintaining this elite structure. Mass political participation (by common people and the poor) is discouraged. Although political parties exist, they have only minimal importance. Competition is between rival factions within the elite rather than between political parties.
Traditionalistic Political Culture
In 2003, Texas ranked 48th in the amount of money the state government spent on each person (also known as per-capita spending).
Select each chili pepper and read a brief description about the attitudes and      beliefs that shape Texas' political culture. Test your knowledge regarding the influence of Texas' political culture on      its public policies and practices with the Self-check Quiz.
Select the i button before beginning the activity.
Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling supporting same-sex marriage, the resistance to this issue in Texas has gone away.
Correct. 2, 4 and 5 reflect Texas' political culture.
A 2009 Gallup poll lists Texas as one of the ten top liberal states.
A proposal to rewrite the Texas constitution was rejected by the Legislature in 1999.
Question 1 of 3:  Which of these reflects Texas political culture? (Select all that apply)
Texas is generally referred to as a state with a constitutionally weak Governor.
In 2005, Texas ranked first in the percentage of workers without health insurance.
Question 2 of 3:  Which of these reflects Texas political culture? (Select all that apply)
Correct. 1, 2, and 4 reflect Texas' political culture.
In 2004, Texas ranked first in the percentage of households “at risk for hunger.”
Texas legislators work full-time and are among the highest paid state legislators.
Select the i button beforebeginning the activity.
In 2009, Governor Rick Perry of Texas signed a bill repealing the death penalty.
Liquor cannot be purchased at grocery stores before noon on Sundays in Texas.
In Texas, households with the lowest incomes pay the highest percentage of their income in taxes; households with the highest incomes pay the lowest percentage of their income in taxes.
Correct. 1, 2, 4 and 5 reflect Texas' political culture. Congratulations. You’ve identified the policies and practices that reflect Texas’ political culture.
Question 3 of 3:  Which of these reflects Texas political culture? (Select all that apply)
The Texas State Board of Education adopted a social studies and history curriculum that waters down the teaching of the civil rights movement, religious freedoms, and America's relationship with the United Nations.
More than 600 Chief Executive Officers rated Texas as the most anti-business state with the most prohibitive business regulations.
In 2004, Texas ranked 32nd in drinking water quality.
Reset Activity
Texas is a Right-to-Work state. It is illegal for a company to require an employee to join a union or pay union dues in order to be employed or remain employed.