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.
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To be sure, there are big problems to contend with. Yes, Texas taxpayers send $198 billion in income tax to Washington while the state receives only $33 billion in payments from Washington. But imagine the real consequences of an independent Texas: 15 major Army bases, including Fort Hood, gone. As part of a deal, won’t Washington want to be repaid for its massive infrastructure investments in Texas, such as the $250 million a year that Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport receives. The end of federal research dollars would shrink the Lone Star Republic’s edifices of higher education to a fraction of their current size and capability. And Texas could probably kiss goodbye any chance to land NASA's next major rocket launch pad – not to mention the $3 billion that NASA invests in Texas annually.Skip to next paragraph
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Quibbling with the claim by Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas that secession is an “American principle” born of the bloody split with Great Britain, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s editorial board notes that Great Britain “would never see American colonies as anything other than a treasure to be pilfered.… By contrast, Texas today is irrevocably linked economically, socially and legally with the United States.”
While the Star-Telegram eventually calls the 2012 secessionists “sore losers,” there’s evidence that the idea isn’t necessarily anathema to the rest of republic.
“This marriage has run its course,” agrees author Paul Vandevelder, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times this week. “Too many niggling little things built up over time, driving us all crazy. So let’s just stop. It’s time to divvy up the china and draft a property settlement.”
As proof of the depth of the feelings, Texas already did draw up a divorce decree, of sorts. In 2009, the Texas legislature approved a nonbinding resolution that claimed Texas sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment (which says all powers not expressly given to Washington shall be enumerated to the States), and declared “that this service as notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.”
That’s Texas tough, to be sure, but not a declaration of independence. Despite the hard feelings, Texans actually don’t want to become a US neighbor to the South. (The word Texas after all comes from the Caddo Indian word tejas, meaning “friends” or “allies.”) In a Rasmussen poll, 75 percent of Texans said they’d actively oppose secession, although another poll pegged 48 percent of Republicans in the state as saying, “Heck, yeah,” to the idea.
For now, Texas’ real goal isn’t secession. It’s a chance for the state’s conservatives to show the American people how wrong they were on Election Day. “Texas Republicans are upbeat and almost giddy about being the leaders of the resistance to Barack Obama’s second-term agenda,” writes Richard Dunham in the Houston Chronicle.
Of course, that may mean less real clout in Washington. And come as early as 2020, some political scientists predict a demographic “time bomb” will go off in Texas, where its burgeoning Hispanic population could turn the Lone Star Republic into a blue state.
Just as with secession, that’s an idea just too crazy to seriously ponder – at least for now.