The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 295

Book Reviews

fought with Gutierrez. Other Mexican Texans also joined the Cause because of
their disenchantment with Mexican authority.
Despite minor shortcomings this compilation is well-written and will take its
place as an indispensable source for those interested in early Texas.
Texas A&M Universzty VICTOR H. TREAT
Race and Class zn Texas Politics. By Chandler Davidson. (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1990. Pp. xxviii + 344. Preface, acknowledgements, pro-
logue, black-and-white photographs, illustrations, epilogue, notes, index.
In 1949 V. O. Key, Jr., published Southern Politics in the State and Natzon. He
postulated in this ground-breaking book that southern elites used racial issues
to submerge class conflicts. He suggested that the one-party system in the
South denied true democracy by creating intraparty factionalism which ob-
scured the real economic issues that divided the haves and have nots. Once
race was no longer an issue and a two-party system evolved, southerners would
vote their economic interests and presumably political class realignments would
occur. Key, a native Texan, was optimistic that such biracial and biethnic coali-
tions would develop in this state and in others, such as Florida, which had a
relatively small African American population. The dream of progressive po-
litical coalitions, predicted by Key, has haunted liberals from the time of the
New Deal through the present, as witnessed by the Reverend Jesse Jackson's
call for a "rainbow coalition."
In Race and Class in Texas Politics, Chandler Davidson scrutinizes Key's as-
sumptions as they apply to current state politics. To do so Davidson divides his
book into three parts. The first is a perceptive description of V. O. Key's theory
combined with Davidson's analyses of Texas conservatism and the impact of
the civil rights movement on southern politics. Next Davidson looks at the class
structures of Texas and their political implications: the elites, blue-collar work-
ers, and the impact of money on campaigns. In part three the author tells of
the emergence of the present Democratic and Republican parties and how the
issue of race affected their development.
A brief "Epilogue," using the 1989 Texas Observer fundraiser honoring Sen.
Ralph Yarborough and the 1990 presidential campaign as examples, summa-
rizes Davidson's conclusions about current Texas (and southern) politics. Key,
forty years later, was wrong. Race remains central to Texas politics. Issues of
race take precedent over reform, preventing any class alignment over eco-
nomic issues. Moreover, racial animosities have become such a part of the social
fabric that they are unlikely to recede enough to prevent conservatives from
using them to turn aside progressive measures.
A brief review does not do justice to this able book. Davidson is a sociologist
at Rice University and, as might be expected, many of the conclusions are sup-
ported by social science methodology. The book, however, is remarkably free
from jargon; indeed, it is sprightly written. Most historians of modern Texas


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. ( accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.