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Dr. Jon Taylor Talks Texas Politics, Y'all
1/29/2013

Dr. Jon Taylor Talks Texas Politics, Y'allBefore he gets into the day's discussion in the Texas Politics class, Professor and Chair of Political Science Dr. Jon Taylor plays a little music.

“It's a fun time as an icebreaker,” he said. “Then we start off with what's in the news, what's being said about Texas government and Texas politics.” By visiting bi-partisan websites, presenting lectures and then encouraging discussion, students learn about the politics of our state.

View a sample class with Taylor, and go deep in the heart of Texas.

A professor for almost 23 years, Taylor also teaches classes in public administration, American popular culture, American Government and graduate-level courses on Houston and the American South. In addition, Taylor regularly travels to China and does extensive research and consulting on Chinese public administration, where he frequently compares Texas politicians' ethics and foibles to Chinese politicians' ethics and foibles, often in humorous terms.

A professor for almost 23 years, Taylor also teaches classes in public administration, American popular culture, American Government and graduate-level courses on Houston and the American South. In addition, Taylor regularly travels to China and does extensive research and consulting on Chinese public administration, where he frequently compares Texas politicians' ethics and foibles to Chinese politicians' ethics and foibles, often in humorous terms.

The Texas Politics class is taught every other year, during the election cycle, and Taylor said enjoys the dialogue and interactions of students in class.

“Every two years, we're hitting it just during the fall campaigns – be it for president, be it for governor – so there's a lot of back and forth discussion about the nuts and bolts of Texas politics.”

The class was designed by Tom Bass, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, who was a longtime member of the Texas Legislature, Harris County Commissioner, and the only UST professor who has a park named after him in Harris County.

“He wrote one of the best textbooks on Texas politics,” Taylor said. “That inspiration is how we approach the class, which is, to look at Texas politically, culturally, socially. We look at the economic impacts of Texas, not just in the United States, but the world.”

Taylor said the Lone Star State has a unique history, and his classes feature discussions on the rise of the Republican party since the 1960s, and how that has demographically been traced to changes in Texas since the mid-1950s, including factors such as the rise in air conditioning.

Dr. Jon Taylor Talks Texas Politics, Y'all“There's a great parallel to this, because since the 1980s and 1990s, the in-migration of Latinos in particular, and how that's now changing Texas politics, how we move from a blue state before 1975/1980, to now a red state, to now transitioning most likely to a purple state, a much more competitive two-party system. This is why Texas, in some respects, is on the cutting edge of America, and I would argue, is the face of future America, which is why it's such a great class to talk about.”

Taylor said his students have been able to take what they've learned from his classes for jobs in local and state government.

“We've had several alumni in politics, including one who worked for a successful campaign for now United States Senator Ted Cruz,” Taylor said. “He parlayed that into an internship and then an offer for a full-time job with Senator Cruz.”

Taylor said his former students teach at Universities, help run Houston city government and pursue political positions like state representative.

“We had three former students who ran for the State House, the Harris County School Board and the Houston City Council just in this election cycle alone,” Taylor said. “All those people were alumni of the Texas Politics class over the last 13 years.”

Taylor said the true story of how Texas politics has radically changed – from horse-and-buggy, one-party, Democratic rule, to the rise of the Republicans in the 1970s and 80s to now, changing toward a more two-party state – still needs to be written.

“I keep telling my students, particularly the graduate students who take the class ‘Hint, hint, hint, here's a master's thesis for you, or potentially a doctoral thesis for you, just waiting to be written.”

To learn more about a degree in political science at UST, email Dr. Taylor at taylorj@stthom.edu or call 713-525-3856.

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