Articles

Keep Austin Honest!

In Sina's Posts, Trips on May 18, 2012 by SN

Texas is part of the United States, but it often has its own take on things. Take the Texas State Capitol for instance. It was modeled after the Washington Capitol and it features an impressive rotunda and two wings with offices and chambers to the left and the right.

Same Same, but Different: The Texas State Capitol.

Yet, it also differs from the U.S. Capitol in two regards: It is 6 meters higher. Take that, Washington! And, yes, the color is slightly “off”. Take that, Texas! Is not white, but made out of pink Texas granite to emphasize the regional identity. Both, the size and the color of the Texas Sate Capitol highlight the self-attributed uniqueness of the Lone Star State in the greater fabric of the United States.

When I toured the Capitol’s various rooms, such as the rotunda, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, the Secretary of State’s vault, or the Governor’s Victorian-style reception room, I noticed two things.

The existence of former Governor and former U.S. President George W. Bush was not as present as I expected. After all, he was the last TX politician who has made it to the White House. His portrait was featured in the gallery of ex-governors of course.

Remember Me? Governors’ Gallery with “W”.

But everything else I saw pointed to current governor and ex-presidential candidate Rick Perry. For instance, the Reference Library featured a glass case with memorabilia of inauguration ceremonies. One glass case displayed a 1957 ceremony, the other one Rick Perry’s.

Inauguration Memorabilia: Rick Perry.

Charts at the Senate displayed former legislatures. Interestingly, they all started in the early 2000s after Perry had been elected as governor. Perry, by the way, is the longest-serving governor in U.S. history. Things in Texas are not just larger, but also longer than elsewhere in the United States.

Historic Chart: 2003 Senate Legislature with Governor Rick Perry (Notice the Kids in the Middle – They are Honorable Members!).

Even when I talked to service personnel, they spoke highly of the older Bush for his humor and wit, but were quite reserved about W. It seems even in his home state, officials do not want to associate themselves with George W. Bush. In that regard politicians in Texas are very much like politicians in Washington, ha!

Secondly, I noticed the immense effort to restore and preserve the Capitol. Later when I walked through the new underground extension reading the newspaper clippings and looking at the photographs on the wall, I found out why: There had been a devastating fire in 1983 which killed one, injured several, and badly damaged the east wing. However, this fire is hardly mentioned in the official leaflets and guides. The fire leaves a strange void when reading about the official story of the Texas State Capitol. Is that void Trauma? A Texan nightmare?

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