Answer by Mikaela Sifuentes:
I'm a patriotic American, but I identify first as Texan, then American, and the reason for that is culture.
Texas feels like a very unique place in the United States, and it has a very unique culture. It's not quite part of the South, the Midwest, or the Southwest. It has a different history, different food, a different ethnic background.
If you grow up in Texas, Texan culture is everywhere. The biggest theme park franchise is called Six Flags, for the six flags that flew over Texas throughout history. As a grade schooler, we rode on a bus 3 hours for a field trip to the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum. We have history courses on Texas in middle and high school. Texas flags are everywhere. Cowboy garb is an acceptable fashion choice. Texas longhorn symbols are common, usually in reference to the University of Texas mascot. There's tex-mex food (Mexican + Ranchero), and kolaches, thanks to our Czech ancestors. You can travel to see beaches, mountains, plains, canyons, and mesas, all without crossing the Texas border. Everyone knows about the Alamo, and many Texans have gone to see it. The Texan revolution is still a great source of pride. The Texas star and state shape is emblazoned on clothes, buildings, highways, etc. Texas has a large GDP and has generally done quite well, even during the Great Recession. Texas also has 3 of the top 10 largest cities in the United States (Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas). When you travel abroad, you can tell people you are from Texas, and people generally know what you are talking about. Despite our shortcomings, Texas is a major destination state for non-Texans, and a comparatively small number of people move out.
"American" is a very broad term, and although the rest of the world sometimes sees Americans as all the same, we can vary pretty significantly in our backgrounds. If I think about who I am, the descriptor "Texan" nicely sums up quite a bit of my personality. I am friendly to strangers, love hot weather, I'm a huge fan of Texan food (and beer!), and I am neither liberal nor conservative. I'm independent, strong-willed, and Hispanic. As others have mentioned, this Texan pride does not come at the cost of an American identity, being a Texan is merely my particular "flavor" of American.
Why do Texans identify so strongly with their state as opposed to their country?