History Behind “Don’t California My Texas”

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History Behind “Don’t California My Texas”

One of the best parts of the United States is the freedom its citizens enjoy when moving from state to state. There are no limitations to moving from one state to another so long as you are a legal citizen and there isn’t a warrant for your arrest.

Many citizens have used this over the years to leave states whose legislatures were making decisions they disagreed with or whose tax rates became too high. The most recent state to notice this phenomenon is Texas, which has received a startling influx of Californian immigrants over the last few years.

However, this integration has not been met with total acceptance. These days, it’s not uncommon to hear a Texan say, “don’t California my Texas,” as a kind of warning to incoming Californians. But what does this mean, and what the history behind it? Let’s break down both questions now.

Origins of the Phrase

Don’t California my Texas” was a phrase originally coined by Gov. Greg Abbott, who remains Texas’s governor to this day. He specifically used the phrase during his reelection campaign as part of a petition that was posted on his website.

In a nutshell, it sought to harness the growing phenomenon of Californians leaving their homes in favor of new states and, over time, changing aspects about those new states to reflect the setting they had come from, either willfully or ignorantly.

Gov. Abbott used the phrase to inform Californians that they may have been unwittingly bringing many of the problems they sought to avoid to Texas when they didn’t change their lifestyles or voting habits.

But it has since become a rallying cry for conservatives in Texas and part of a broader social conversation to prevent many of the same issues that plague California from coming to the Lone Star State.

Differences Between California and Texas

What exactly are all these differences people are up in arms about? California and Texas are pretty similar on paper. They’re the two most populous states by far and are two of the largest states by landmass. They’re also economic juggernauts in their own rights. If either state were to hypothetically secede from the union, they would immediately have a GDP greater than the entire country of Russia!

However, California and Texas could not be more different when it comes to their politics and many of their sociocultural ideals.

Democratic Ideals

While California’s Central Valley is known as a conservative haven from the rest of the state, the state’s policies and elected officials overall bow to the coastal and southern cities that are predominantly Democratic and liberal. Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento are big liberal epicenters.

As a result, California is a so-called blue state through and through. Its people commonly push for massive government programs, increased government support for certain groups, and so on.

However, Texas is a so-called red state and is predominantly conservative and Republican. Many of the people who live in Texas believe in hard work, small government, and maintaining personal freedom above all else. This clash of ideals has led many Texans to believe that incoming Californians are incompatible with their way of life.

Higher Taxes

Furthermore, California has exceptionally high taxes. Tax rates in Texas are comparatively low, which is why many people from California retire to Texas in order for their retirement nest eggs to stretch further without having to take up another job.

But the low tax rates in Texas, the thought goes, might eventually become higher if enough Californians reach the Lone Star State and vote in Democratic representatives and senators that pass legislation to that effect.

Many Texans don’t know whether the incoming Californians are simply naïve or willfully malicious.

Worries About Mismanagement

But there are other concerns that many Texans have about new Californian residents. California is often considered a mismanaged state in terms of government spending and social programs.

It’s well-known that California is a hotbed for individuals who rely on welfare for their day-to-day expenses. But more importantly, California’s government has been historically inefficient, especially when it comes to programs it has championed.

For example, California has been trying to get a two-way rail system to connect the Central Valley to the southern metropolitan centers for decades at this point, spending billions of dollars in tax revenue to no apparent progress. The rail system isn’t functional in the slightest, and continual delays and redesigns have led many to write the project off in its entirety.

Texas is relatively efficient by comparison, so many Texans are worried that more California residents will bring the same inefficiency they experienced in their previous state to the open frontier.

Housing Market Issues

If there’s one reason why people are leaving California, it’s because of the housing market. Big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have absolutely absurd housing prices to the point where even professionals making six figures have to share space in cramped apartments with others of their generation.

It’s almost impossible to find affordable housing in California, whether to rent or to buy, unless you were lucky enough to purchase a home several decades ago.

In that case, many Californians who previously owned property in the Golden State have now moved to Texas and similar states after selling. They took the massive profits they made and used them to purchase comparatively more land. This, in turn, has driven up housing costs in Texas.

All in all, many Texans are worried that the recent influx of Californians could lead to housing shortages and, even worse, unbearable laws that protect price counters in most major cities like Dallas and Houston.

When Did the Phrase Originate?

The phrase originated in 2018 as part of Gov. Abbott’s reelection campaign. But all he did was draw on a sentiment that had been developing for quite some time.

States like Colorado, Oregon, and Texas have all been sites of recent emigration from California. Many wealthy Californians, having already made their fortunes in the Golden State, have decided to leave California due to its high taxes, terrible housing markets, and other factors for greener pastures.

But they have come to states like Colorado and Texas and brought their liberal mindsets with them. As a result, this immigration has been gradually changing the demographics of states like Texas, affecting its politics and the day-to-day things people have to deal with, such as tax rates.

Many Texans have been worried that the influx of Californians will cause Texas to become more liberal in several ways, such as through increased personal taxes and unfavorable housing laws.

Additionally, corporations like SpaceX and Tesla, both owned by Elon Musk, originally came to Texas to enjoy lower taxes and relative corporate freedom. The arrival of new Californian expats is a worrying sign even to these groups.

Therefore, Gov. Abbott’s phrase hit on a personal fear that’s universal to the human condition: the worry that newcomers will change everything you like about your home.

Meaning of the Phrase Today

Today, “Don’t California my Texas” has become a rallying cry for conservative causes throughout the country, and for good reason. In fact, you can find new variations of this phrase everywhere. “Don’t California my Arizona” and “Don’t California my Colorado” are two common examples.

While the United States is built on compromise, many people in states like Texas are fed up with overly progressive policies that do little to help their constituents.

Therefore, “Don’t California my Texas” can be thought of as a phrase really meaning, “don’t bring your problems to my state after leaving your own state.” It’s a statement of separation that conservatives use to tell Democrats to keep their problems in their own backyards, so to speak.

It’s also a great conversation starter for those looking to debate finer points on policy with political opponents. You can find this phrase on T-shirts, hats, and even bumper stickers, depending on how incendiary you want to be.

Remember, we’re all Americans – but sometimes we need to have a good old-fashioned argument about the best direction for the country!


In the end, it’s not likely that Texas will become the “next California” anytime soon. Even if more Californians emigrate to Texas, sweeping changes would not be possible for at least another ten years or so.

However, Texans are right to put their feet down early and try to convince any incoming immigrants that they should adopt the Texan way of life and social values rather than the other way around. Hopefully, “Don’t California my Texas” will become a more common phrase and help to show naïve Democrats that, if they aren’t careful, they could bring the problems they tried to escape in California to Texas.



Don't California My Texas - History of a Polarizing Phrase | Reform Austin

Don't California My Texas! | gregabbott.com

'Don't California My Texas': How Expats Are Turning The Lone Star State Purple | laist.com 

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