You don’t question a Texan’s patriotism. Them’s fightin’ words.
So, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more negative reaction to one website’s calculation that Texas is not the most patriotic state in the nation. It’s not even in the top 10.
That’s hard to believe.
Nevertheless, WalletHub.com ranks Texas No. 30, well below our neighbor Oklahoma (14) and a few points below New Mexico (24).
The top five states are Virginia, Alaska, Wyoming, South Carolina and Colorado. The bottom five, with No. 50 listed first, are New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.
Just after we’ve celebrated America’s independence, this is a bit unsettling. Obviously, the number-crunchers for this exercise failed to drive through our town and see all the flags Coldwell-Banker, Mark Campbell and Associates put out last weekend.
Instead, the site’s rankings came from statistics in more than a dozen categories, which were then divided 50-50 between military and civic engagement.
Texas was 13th in military engagement, but only 47th in civic engagement. That’s what hurt.
My immediate thought was that voter turnout could have caused Texas’ poor showing. The percentage of adults who voted in the 2016 presidential election was indeed one characteristic studied, and many of the “battleground states” (like Wisconsin, second in voter turnout) scored high, while many states that weren’t (like Texas, ranked 46th) scored low. Maine ranked first in this category, and Hawaii was last. But election turnout affected only 5 percent of the total results, and Hawaii was seventh and election swing state Wisconsin 28th in the overall listing.
The one most important factor was military enlistees per 1,000 population. Georgia was first, Texas fifth, and North Dakota last. Other key factors were veterans per capita (Alaska first, New York last), average number of military enlistees (Georgia, North Dakota), most Peace Corps veterans per capita (Montana and Vermont, tied for first, and Mississippi last), and highest volunteer rate (Utah, Florida).
Overall, the study found “red” states (Republican leaning, which certainly includes Texas) are more patriotic than “blue” states (Democratic). Averaged together, the “red” states ranked 23.47 among the 50, while “blue” states ranked 28.55 out of 50. At No. 30. Texas didn’t help much there.
Other metrics considered were active duty military personnel per 1,000 population, civilian adults in the military reserves, adults who voted in 2016 primary elections, volunteer hours per resident, trial jury and grand jury participation per capita, civics education requirements, and — surprise! — frequency of Google searches for the American flag.
Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Veterans Affairs, Peace Corps, United States Elections Project, and others. Complete results and details are available on the WalletHub website.
Here’s another unfortunate trend. Of the 13 original colonies, only four — Virginia (No. 1), South Carolina (No. 4), Georgia (No. 9), and North Carolina (No. 10) — are found in the top 10.
Seven of the nine other original colonies — New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware — are in the bottom 10. New Hampshire is 13th, with Maryland 17th.
But why is Texas ranked so low? Maybe the statisticians didn’t study everything they could have.
Next time, they might include a category on national pride. That’s a subjective trait, certainly, but if it could be measured, I know it would boost this state’s position substantially.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.