The best that is Texas - and the best that is America - is shining through right now, as everyday people set aside their difference and come together in response to a natural disaster.
The examples are far too numerous to list, but when Texans in and around Houston were in need, the nation rallied. We are proud to be Americans, and proud to be Texans.
There are, in all likelihood, hundreds of East Texans on the coast now, assisting in ongoing rescue efforts and the start of recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Many more are helping to collect donations and supplies.
Texas Public Policy Foundation President Brooke Rollins put it eloquently in a recent essay. We will weather this trial.
“Texas is a hard country, and it always has been,” she wrote. “It is a land of tremendous beauty and immense bounty, and yet its geography and climate render it a land prone to danger.”
But the storm, which could equal in damage Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina combined, has put some things into perspective.
For one thing, it has put into perspective just how unlike America these latest controversies are. Small groups battling each other in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia and Berkeley, California, but that’s not America. That’s an insignificant sideshow, magnified by disproportional coverage and commentary.
America is what’s happening on the Gulf. Investors Business Daily’s recent editorial puts it well.
“Over the weekend, dozens of people from Louisiana showed up in Houston as part of what’s become known as the Cajun Navy,” that newspaper wrote. “This is an all-volunteer group formed during Hurricane Katrina that has grown in size since. Nobody ordered it, or organized it, or coordinated it, or directed it. Nobody’s getting paid. But their efforts are a big reason why the death rate from Harvey has been so low. It’s just one of many stories emerging from Houston that show how, in times of crisis, Americans come together, on their own, to help each other, save lives, and solve problems.”
The official response to Harvey has been strong and competent. But the private sector’s response has been overwhelming.
As IBD points out, “The nation’s moral character isn't measured by the number of federal programs, or how big their budgets are, or how many bureaucrats are involved. It is measured in the willingness of its citizens to rally, organize and respond to a crisis all on their own, freely donating their time and resources, experience and know-how to help strangers in need.”
Of course, some just can’t keep politics out of things. Politico magazine, for example, sniped that Texans “might pride themselves on their rugged individualism, but this time, they’ll have no choice but to accept years of state and federal help for the recovery.”
Of course we will - Texans pay state and federal taxes, too. That was a cheap shot at a caricature of Texas.
It’s the character of Texas - and of America - that’s being shown now. And we couldn’t be more proud.