Blue Dot Blues has a great piece on the symbiotic cultural relationship between Austin and the rest of Texas:
Conservative Texans outside Austin have this reaction to Austin conservatives – “Really? You must have your work cut out for you.” And when they see an Austinite with tattoos and piercings and dyed hair, outsiders shake their heads and lament about Austin’s weirdness. It’s more or less the opposite reaction that liberals outside Texas have. And you know what, both sides are wrong about Austin, because both sides assume that Austin is politically and culturally radical and “different” from the rest of Texas. After seven years here, and nearly twenty as a Texan, I think the reality is that Austin couldn’t exist anywhere but Texas. It is left-leaning and it is less a melting pot than a chunky stew, but it’s essentially Texan, a place where cowboy boots coexist with flip-flops, where country music is as hardcore as rock (and Austin is more of a country music city than Dallas or Houston these days). It is really hard to quantify, what “Texan” is, when trying to explain it to people who haven’t experienced it.Cahnman's Musings has always found tales of Austin's liberalism, much like Mark Twain's death, to be greatly exaggerated. Having grown up in New York City, and having lived in and around Los Angeles for five years, we know the left. The Austin crowd has never cut it.
Austin has a reputation, prides itself on, being “weird,” and it’s a reputation earned long before hippies took up residence south of the river. Consider that the original name was “Waterloo,” a name famous even then for what happened to Napoleon when he reached the original. Not exactly a warm, welcoming name! This entire area, stretching into the Hill Country, has attracted people who didn’t “fit in” wherever they came from for nearly two centuries. And Austin has always been a collegiate town, at least since Reconstruction. Texas itself is a state for misfits, and Austin as the capital city exemplifies that. It started out that way and remains so today. It isn’t any wonder Texas attracts people at the rate of 1000 a day, largely other Americans who are finding they can’t keep swimming in the current elsewhere.
Why is Austin more palatable – “totally different” – to liberals? I submit that it isn’t so much the politics as the culture, which is something Heather Wilhelm talks about in her article. Culturally, Austin is quite different than most of the state – more casual, more diverse. But it’s still Texan in flavor, which is probably why some liberals are completely turned off after they experience it for longer than SXSW.
Having lived in Austin for almost six years, we've always found the culture to be
The government of Austin and Travis County has never reflected the truth of its inhabitants. City council elections haven't hit 10% turnout in two decades. There is a good chance that will change next year.
Besides, bastions of progressivism don't defeat school bonds....