(City Journal) — It’s ironic that prosperous red states (such as Texas), attracting new arrivals from failing blue states (such as California), face the risk of political transformation. Seeking jobs, the newcomers tend to congregate in urban areas, which already lean Democratic. Compounding the impact, many of the transplants are young, college-educated, and unmarried, a demographic that leans toward left-wing politics. Cities with high-tech economies and a reputation for entertainment—live music, craft beer, trendy restaurants—are meccas for young adults. No surprise, then, that Austin, with its vibrant economy and hip cultural scene, has seen explosive population growth in the past decade. Texas’s once-sleepy capital is now the Lone Star State’s fourth-largest city.
The influx of millennials and California refugees to Austin—also home to the flagship campus of the University of Texas—has coincided with a leftward shift in the city’s already-liberal politics. Since the creation of single-member districts for the city council in 2012, Austin has gone fully “woke,” electing activists as radical as any local pols in America today—on par with Gotham mayor Bill de Blasio. Despite a conservative statewide electorate in Texas, the ten-member city council in Austin includes just one vulnerable Republican, Ellen Troxclair. Likewise, nearly every officeholder in surrounding Travis County, including all the trial court judges, are Democrats. Both city and county declared themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants, a status overridden by state law (SB4) last year, amid fierce opposition.
In recent years, in addition to adopting a series of fashionable but impractical urbanist transportation initiatives—among them, bike lanes and draconian parking restrictions—Austin has enacted a series of business-unfriendly ordinances.