Texas Gov. Rick Perry has just been elected to an unprecedented third term in office.
And in his new book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, Perry broadcasts his belief that states should have more freedom from the federal government.
"It's what our founding fathers believed in too," Perry tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "They did not believe that all of us would be alike, and they really didn't like centralized government and mandating down to these states how to act, how to look."
States should be free to make decisions regulating such things as taxes, marijuana and gay marriage, Perry says.
"If you want to live in a state that has high taxes, high regulations -- that is favorable to smoking marijuana and gay marriage -- then move to California," he says. Texas is also often compared to California because the two are both large states. But Perry sees a clear distinction:
In Texas, "we still believe in freedom," Perry says. "Freedom from over-taxation, over-regulation, over-litigation."
When asked what the federal government is preventing him from doing that he would like to do, Perry says the government sent in the EPA to take over Texas' air permitting process.
"A permitting process," Perry says, "that for the last 16 years has helped clean up Texas air more than any other state in the nation, with the exception of Georgia."
And, in addition to cleaning Texas air, Perry says, his state led the country in job creation.
"Four out of five private-sector jobs -- new jobs -- created in America were created in Texas," he says. "This administration thinks somehow or other they can do it better than we can. I don't think so."
Another issue Perry takes aim at is health care. Instead of forcing people to buy health insurance from a "Washington-devised program," he says, states should be allowed to compete in creating the best programs.
"You let California, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Florida compete against one another, and they'll be laboratories of innovation," Perry says. "They will come up with the best way to deliver health care."
Perry points to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as,"one of the brightest, most capable governors in the country." And Perry says, "He'll come up with a health care delivery system that we will like, and we will go over and appropriate it from him and put it in place in Texas."
And if a health care system fails in one state, it will not harm the entire country, Perry adds.
In a series of articles last year, The Economist magazine asserted that Texas had, "the highest proportion of people lacking health insurance of all 50 states, the third highest poverty rate, the second highest imprisonment rate, the highest teenage birth rate, the lowest voter turnout and the lowest portion of high school graduates."
Perry says, however, that those issues cannot be addressed until there is an economy fit to pay for programs that will alleviate some of those problems. And he adds that less regulation and taxes are important to improve the skilled workforce.
"We obviously are improving our skilled workforce, or people wouldn't be moving to the state of Texas," he says. "We have an election every day in this country -- people vote with their feet, and Texas is winning that election overwhelmingly."
Many of the people moving to Texas are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Perry governs a state with a vast Hispanic population and rapidly growing numbers of people from places like China, India, Pakistan and the Middle East. Houston is already considered a “majority-minority” city, where no one group is predominant, and Perry expects the whole state to become majority-minority within a few decades.
The governor of this swiftly changing state works to take a nuanced approach to a minority group that’s been very much at the center of the news. "We have a huge Muslim community in the state of Texas," he says, and many of these Muslims are "great businessmen and women, very good supporters of mine. ... We are an incredibly diverse state. I sell it as part of our strength."
Perry was asked if he was comfortable with the way that some people talk about the problem with terrorism -- their concern to say that the real problem is “Muslims" or "Muslim countries."
"The radicalization of Islam is a great concern," Perry said. "Islam of and by itself is one of the great religions, along with Christianity and Judaism." He recalled meeting one of the Democratic candidates for Texas governor in the recent election. "He’s a Palestinian. And he and I were having a conversation about Ground Zero. How do you deal with this? He said, well, it’s pretty easy. He said, 'Build a synagogue, a temple, and a church there. And bring these people together.'"