Why is Texas always a mere Fort Sumter away from seceding?
Secession talk has always been Texas-sized in Texas. But if nothing else, the latest online request to the White House for independence really means: Get ready for four more years of acrimony between Austin and Washington.
Did you know Texas is actually not a US state, but an occupied land, bear-hugged, and bamboozled into the Union not by will but by force?Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
It’s true! Well, kind of.
If there’s one thing that’s not news in Texas, it’s secession talk, which has been going on ever since the United States, with the OK from the then-nine-year-old independent republic’s president, annexed the Lone Star state and extended the federal umbrella over the Palo Pinto Mountains and beyond. That annexation and the legal details of the return of Texas into the Union after the South lost the Civil War have been contested over the years in court by various “Republic of Texas” splinter groups.
Now, here we go again: After a contested election that for some confirmed the depth of the political and philosophical distance between Washington and Austin, over 112,000 Texans are ready to take their ball (and all that oil) and go home by petitioning the White House’s “We the People” website for independence. (The Obama administration now owes Texans an official response by mid-December, as it does dozens of other similar state secession requests. The White House website promises a response to petitions with over 25,000 names.)
But if the secessionist numbers are on the whole paltry, the emotions are real and widespread. Indeed, if national Republicans were chastened by the national election, conservatives in Texas seemed to double down on rebelliousness. If the tea party flagged nationally, not so in Texas, where tea party Republicans gained ground in the Senate, the legislature turned even more Republican, and GOP Gov. Rick Perry (who once suggested secession might not be the worst idea) dug in his heels for more battles with Washington, against which the state has already filed 24 lawsuits on issues ranging from environmental laws to voting rights.
Moreover, Texas is leading the online secession movement on the White House website – and not just because there are lots of Texans. Perhaps the greatest reason is that the fundamentals of nationhood – materially, legally and philosophically – are more evident in Texas, at least arguably, than any other state. Add to that its political counterweight status to Washington, it is, always has been, and likely always will be, the one state to most likely sign divorce papers.
Having once been a nation, Texas could conceivably go at it again. Successful secession would mean Texas would instantly become the 40th largest country on the globe, with a wealth of oil and other natural resources. No longer would Austin have to bow by executive orders and bureaucratic fiats from Washington. According to this vision, lovers of individual freedom and enterprise would flock to Texas, bolstering a wave of migration and investment that has allowed the state to weather the nation’s economic storm better than most.
“This ‘nation,’ as some would call it, is not only a highly functional, world-class economy, engaging in robust commerce with other nations and neighboring states, it actually has a budget, a balanced one at that,” writes Chuck Poole, a columnist with the Arlington, Tex., Voice. “… [B]ut why should the Great Republic of Texas continue to be at the losing end of the welfare worm-hole that wends its way to New York and other so-called blue states by way of the Washington vortex?”