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Liberal Place:Austin, TX

These are comments on Austin, submitted by other Turn Left visitors. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of the webmaster. You may add a comment on Austin if you want.
Austin, Texas is one of the most progressive and cultured cities in the Southwest. Austin is the home of Grange populism, LBJ, the Univerisity of Texas, the Austin Chronicle and the largest per-capita gay and lesbian population in the state. Austin is an oasis of liberalism, anarchism, leftism, nihilism and many other isms in a state that is for the most part an inhospitable desert to anyone to the philosophical left of George Bush, Jr."

"As a student at the horrendously conservative Texas A&M University in College Station (about 90 miles east of Austin), I hear all sorts of "horror stories" about Austin which, instead of having the desired effect, just make me want to go there! I plan to transfer to UT this Fall. Austin reportedly has the highest per capita book sales of any American locale (in contrast to College Sta., which can only lay claim to the largest volume of alcohol consumed per capita in the US! :). Austin was also rated the No. 10 college town in the country. With its staggering 126 music venues, 30 coffee houses, and 18 dance clubs, I'd like to know which nine cities beat it!! The city is so cool that, even though 1 in 10 residents is a UT student, the majority of the business at the clubs does not come from college students!

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among the tens of thousands of newcomers over the past couple of years have been way too many conservatives -- to the point where I'm not so sure Austin actually belongs on this list anymore. Besides, you have to have at least two jobs to afford to live here anymore, just to keep up with rent increases!! Sorry to burst any bubbles, but this is another paradise lost. Come for a visit, though, and swim in Barton Springs before it gets paved over.

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Austin has had a large influx of California high-tech conservative types lately. It didn't really have suburbs until the early 90s (none to speak of anyway). Has a better weekly than Seattle (more local political coverage); more live music than Seattle and Oregon combined; very strict environmental laws; very gay-friendly in a not-so-gay-friendly state. Minuses: Not as progressive about urban design issues as Seattle/Portland -- but we're working on it; more and more highways being built for the techie types (sounds like Charlotte, in fact) living in the 'burbs; and powerful developement interests (not too surprising). The current city council is a green majority (yeah!) and it looks to remain that way for at least another 3 years. If only those California emigres would go back. . . .

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I live in Austin and have for two years. It is indeed an oasis of liberalism in a desert of conservatives and dullards. I came from one of those desert areas, Abilene, TX. You never know what you are gonna see when you walk into a McDonalds here and that's why I like it!

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I know there's a lot of comments on Austin already, but I have a follow-up to an earlier one: I was the disgruntled Texas A&M student who transferred to UT-Austin. Austin has become sort of a divided city, with a very liberal central city and somewhat conservative outlying areas. In the '96 elections, central Austin elected two very liberal state representatives, one of them openly gay, by approx. 3-to-1 margins. On campus, gays and lesbians seem pretty well accepted, and interracial couples are also not uncommon. Student bodies are often adorned with tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair, and there's probably more "grass" in people's pockets than on the ground (the campus is at least 90% concrete). I love it...Austin the beautiful! If it weren't for the suburbs, it would be heaven.

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I have to agree with the last posting, in which the writer observed the division within Austin. It has indeed become a "city of territories," where people stay mostly in their part of town and comment snidely on the other parts.

Central Austin is still liberal, but it's unaffordable except to the upper middle class. South Austin has a fading "Bubba" population that, more than any other area in the city, retains the old flavor of pre-boom Austin. But even Bubba-vile is being replaced by sprawling, green-lawned suburbia. West Austin is almost exclusively for the landed gentry and the nouveau riche, such as Michael Dell with his 14,000 square-foot mansion. East Austin is trying to crawl out of it's long-time identity as the minority near-ghetto of the city. (Blacks and Mexican-Americans were forced there by legislation in the 1920's.) Finally, north Austin is not so much Austin as a rapidly growing suburban conglomeration of several conservative small towns that are now touching at their edge neighborhoods. Other than it's geographic proximity, north Austin has very little tying it Austin, culturally or spiritually. I call it "South Dallas." I can be snide, too.

And so, if you can afford to pay exorbitant rents/mortgages to live in or near Central or South Austin, then you may find the liberal lifestyle you crave. Otherwise, you'd be well-advised to visit Austin as a tourist and live elsewhere. As for my wife and I, we're looking to move to a slower-paced, less yuppified community, preferably in a warm southern climate like Austin.

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I have lived in Austin for three years now and I do not like it here. I am from a bigger city, Dallas, which has a lot more too offer in terms of entertainment and leisure, and I like it a lot better. Austin is an okay college town and claims to be the "live music capital of the world", but most of the music and club scenes tend to focus on the alternative/rock kind of thing. So, if you are looking for a city that will provide you with an abundance of various cultural experiences and leisure activities, then Austin is not the place for you. If those types of things do not matter to you then, you might find Austin desirable.

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I moved to Austin over 17 years ago. I've managed to live in south Austin all of that time, currently living in Travis Heights, a neighborhood where old Volvos with Save The Whales bumper stickers are still plentiful, although there are some houses which always have signs for conservative canidates for city council and county commissioner. Austin is in some ways more liberal, and in some ways less, than it was 17 years ago. Although the growth rate has been phenomenal, it's still small enough that almost anybody can volunteer for almost anything, and find themselves working on a committee with some of the old money and the new rich. Weekend before last, I was volunteering as a cashier at the classical radio station's record sale fundraiser - the station is 100% listener supported, no government or NPR or university money. Last weekend, staffed a table at the public library's annual used book sale. Lots of the same people attend both! And there was lots of literature being handed out about the upcoming bond elections - Austin ALWAYS has bond elections coming up. This weekend, I will be volunteering at the Quilt Show. I think I've avoided anything for the weekend after that! Which doesn't mean there's nothing going on. There are plenty of opportunities for us bleeding-heart liberal do-gooders with Darwin Fish on our cars and ugly European shoes on our feet to keep busy.

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As the last poster, I have been here in Austin for a while, (only 16 years, not 17) and although it is a very liberal place, and a very involved place (volunteer-wise), we just don't vote here! with abyssmal 15 - 20% turnouts in non-national elections, there's a very small group that decides each election. Last city council we did manage to get the left out, but probably only because of Ronney Reynolds, a very conservative mayoral candidate. As a result, we will have a progressive council for at least 3 years, and probably 5, but it's hard to get the vote out for environmentally and socially important bond issues. We do have a growing "Yellow Bike" project and the increasingly powerful S.O.S. coalition (_the_ environmental cadre here), but the 'burbs are slowly overwhelming us. By the way, to the earlier poster who complained about high rents and mortgages, if you are willing to live in a neighborhood that is not predominately white, i.e. Galindo, Montopolis, Dove Springs, etc. , there are many reasonable accomodations to be had.

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The idea of Austin as politically progressive is overrated. The SOS group has done a good job in the last five or so years, but they're primarily - as is the Austin Chronicle - a botique liberal ideal for the well-to-do whites. The East Side has consistently been overlooked, at best, and whenever the Christian Right gears up for a local election (like the Domestic Partnership issue four or five years ago), they win hands down. From my vantage point, there's very little community organizing and more and more of a dispiriting political ennui, where everyone says they're liberal, but no one can quite work up any muster to care. The Whole Foods-style of affluent, laid-back liberalism/paternalism makes Austin a pleasant place, and friendly, but not really any kind of model for progressive, political activism. And maybe, save for the late 50's era of the Gay Place/Texas Observer/John Henry Faulk, it never was.

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Austin is as liberal as liberal really gets in today's American political climate. As stated in previous comments by others, the influx of people into the community to work for locally based computer giants has most assuredly changed Austin's politicial milieu. This insurgence of politically moderate and conservative practitioners has changed Austin's left wing because they have served notice that the lefties are not the only ones in charge anymore. Hopefully, this should motivate the liberal wing of Austin's political community to take action.. There is nothing wrong with a little debate and political friction in Austin. In fact, liberals should HAVE to fight for their political stances rather than searching around the country for communities where they can preach to the converted.


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