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Hexit, Voter Psychology, and the Prison Rodeo: Wednesday’s show (July 27, 2016)

The recent “Brexit” – Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – has led to conjecture about a lot of things, from the long-term international economic impact of the move, to what it might signal about U.S. trade policy, to somewhat less serious musings, like Ken Hoffman’s recent column in the Houston Chronicle, which […]

Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media
The recent “Brexit” – Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – has led to conjecture about a lot of things, from the long-term international economic impact of the move, to what it might signal about U.S. trade policy, to somewhat less serious musings, like Ken Hoffman’s recent column in the Houston Chronicle, which pondered whether Houston could ever “Hexit” – and leave the state of Texas.

Sounds crazy, right? Yes, there are occasional calls from the fringes for Texas to secede from the United States, and of course, secession has a negative connotation, as the very word leads most Americans to think of the Confederacy seceding from the Union during the Civil War. But there’s another wrinkle in that story that gets a lot less notice: how, when Virginia joined the Confederacy, the western part of the state remained loyal to the Union, and ultimately separated, creating the state of West Virginia.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we learn about West Virginia’s beginnings, and then ponder the question: what would it take…what would the conditions have to be…for Greater Houston to “Hexit?”

We welcome your questions for Michael Woods, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Marshall University in West Virginia, and Jon Taylor, chair and professor in the political science department at the University of St. Thomas. 

Also this hour:

Voter Psychology in 2016

This presidential election cycle has blown up much of the conventional wisdom out there about voter attitudes and habits. Many respected experts were slow to catch onto the appeal of “outsider” campaigns led by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. We discuss what political scientists got right and wrong about the primary season, and now that the two major party candidates, Trump and Hillary Clinton, have been nominated, we consider whether what happens over the next few months will be easier or harder to predict, who may turnout to vote, and what role Houston and Texas may play in the general election. We welcome your questions for Elizabeth Simas, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston…and Oscar del Toro, a small business owner and former city council candidate from Pasadena, who was featured in the recent PBS series Postcards from the Great Divide.

Exploring the History of the Texas Prison Rodeo

In 1931, officials at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville started a rodeo for inmates. Intended simply as entertainment for prisoners and employees, it eventually grew to become the largest sporting event in the state of Texas, drawing crowds as large as a hundred thousand in some years. A new book called Convict Cowboys: The Untold History of the Texas Prison Rodeo chronicles the event’s 50-year history. Michael Hagerty talks with author and Sam Houston State University Professor Mitchel Roth.

Galveston Heritage Festival

The second annual Galveston Heritage Festival will be held on August 6th. The event will focus on the culture, groups and people that first immigrated through Galveston in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. We learn more from Dwayne Jones, Executive Director of the Galveston Historical Foundation.

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