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Houston: Individualistic or Traditionalistic?


The federal government in the United States gives individual states important powers, such as building roads, funding schools, and organizing police work. Given the differences in approaches to lawmaking, the American states are rightly called “laboratories for democracy” (Elazar, 1984). However, no less important is a rather noticeable difference in the political culture of states and even US cities in different regions of the country. One of the most interesting examples in this context is Houston, located in Texas, which represents a symbiosis of liberalism and traditional values, which, however, leads to synergy rather than the entropy of the city’s political system.

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Houston is considered a politically divided city in which the balance of power often fluctuates between Republicans and Democrats. Most of the city’s wealthier neighborhoods vote Republicans, while the city’s working-class and minority districts vote Democrats (Lovell, 2017). Many suburbs, which were mainly wealthier and in majority-white people live manifest a tendency to support moderate Republicans.

In 2009 Houston appeared to be the largest city when an openly gay mayor was elected. Representative of the United States Democratic Party, Ennis Parker, who openly admitted her non-traditional sexual orientation, won the election as mayor of Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States (Collier et al., 2015). This is a surprising fact since Texas has long been known for its general conservativeness and strong support for ‘traditional values.’ Houston is a southern city, and its politics, like in most other cities in the South, experience the influence of segregation. Some most conservative citizens voted for Democrats namely because of their race. This fact is shameful for the city, however, it is a historical reality since the times of slavery. Due to the latent nature of racism, it is very difficult to fight racism or even reveal the facts of it. However, at the same time, the extremely diverse content of Houston’s population prevents the city from becoming the one with evidently acute racial problems.

Houston has a unique ethnic diversity. Due to its proximity to Mexico, the proportion of Hispanics is 43.8% of the total population (Lovell, 2017). Moreover, the number of Hispanics increased from 731 to 920 thousand people over the period 2000-2010 (Lovell, 2017). This, to a certain extent determined, in particular, showed fluctuations in the preferences of citizens during the last presidential elections. Houston, which previously voted confidently for Republicans, was grayed out on the voter preference map as undecided.

At the same time, racists and segregation moods still retain their popularity in Houston as a southern city. Perhaps the most disturbing is that, according to the Pew Research Center, Houston is the most income-segregated of the ten largest U.S. metropolitan areas. It has the greatest percentage of rich people and the third-greatest percentage of poor people.


Houston represents a unique phenomenon on the political map of the USA. One can definitely say that Houston can be attributed neither to an individualistic nor traditionalistic category according to Elazar’s (1984) theory. It can be called a real ‘melting pot,’ like the US as a whole used to be called until recent decades of aggravating racial contradictions. In fact, there is no single ethnic group enjoying the city majority. The diversity of Houston enables the occurrence of a kind of political synergy – voting for LGBT representatives and advocating traditional political course, thus not allowing acute conflicts to arise.


Collier, K., Galatas, S., & Harrelson-Stephens, J. (2015). Lone star politics: Tradition and transformation in Texas. CQ Press.

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Elazar, D. J. (1984). American federalism: A view from the states. Harpercollins College Div.

Lovell, D. (2017). Lone star politics: Theories, concepts, and political activity in Texas. Cognella Academic Publishing.

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