Texas and the Secession Movement

From Chicago Trib:

The petition filed by Texas residents has racked up about 100,000 signatures. Six others from Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have collected 30,000.

Among the seven states, only Florida gave its electoral votes to Democratic President Barack Obama in last week’s election.

The Texas petition says the United States is suffering from economic troubles stemming from the federal government’s failure to reform spending. It also complains of alleged rights abuses committed by agencies like the Transportation Security Administration.

“Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union,” it said.

A counter-petition has been filed calling for the state capital Austin to secede from Texas and remain part of the United States.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://davidbrush.com David Brush

    People need to go take a walk, look at some birds, watch the sunset, have sex with their spouse, go to Colorado or Washington and light a doobie (that’s a joke btw). I don’t know, but this just seems like a childish tantrum. Besides even at 100,000 that’s 4 hundredths of the population (.004%).

  • http://twitter.com/somerandombloke Alex

    If this is some kind of petition for a referendum, I would have thought it’s a pretty significant number. I live in an Australian state with a small but lively secessionist movement. We were latecomers to the federation and are not mentioned in the constitution. We’re a long way from our national capital and frequently feel alienated by decisions of the national government. I’m not a secessionist myself, but have sympathy with them.

  • http://bookwi.se Adam Shields

    What I want to know is what they think the President is supposed to say in response. “No you can’t succeed” is pretty much the only possible response.

  • EricW

    @3 Adam Shields: That’s the reason for the petition. Under this President we/the State can’t succeed. That’s why Texas wants to do things on its own. :)

  • http://www.normmacdonald.wordpress.com Norm

    Just for the record, it’s my understanding that these types of petitions have also been filed by various states after the 2004 and 2008 elections. The folks who didn’t like Bush were just as frustrated as those who dislike Obama.

  • http://www.travismamone.net Travis Mamone

    Now somebody explain something to me. If Texas secedes from the Union, does that mean Texas becomes its own country, therefore no longer American? Yeah, can we say, “Dumb redneck @$$holes?”

  • SteveSherwood

    Or, he could echo John Piper, “Farewell Texas, farewell.”

  • http://existingbetween.wordpress.com/ Joy F

    Ah……my home state Texas. What is probably not as widely published is that this is nothing new. Texas has tried to “secede” (never seriously) for the thirty years. There are similar movements in Alaska and Hawaii. It has little to do with who is actually in office as George W. Bush was our “native son” and the state still published the “Texas Manifesto” while he was in office. There was actually a standoff with the US government during the Clinton years (bigger following than this one) and other stupid incidents over the last – well we have had a secessionists group since right after the Civil War (the state is stubborn).

    The real story in Texas is voter apathy. We are the only minority-majority state that votes Republican predictably. White Southern politicians rule. Except that Texas is not a white southern state. It’s a minority-majority, Southwestern state that southerners took from Mexico because Mexico did not allow slavery. The majority opinion has never been with them, Tejano culture has been the majority all along, but oppression, racism and apathy are huge problems.

    Mayor Julian Castro sees opportunity in an awakening of the Latino vote. The state would go from red to blue in one election if groundwork was done. But assumptions of what Texas is have kept the Democratic Party from seriously putting an effort into Texas. Most of my friends from Texas just didn’t bother voting the question was “why? It will just go Republican anyway,” my question is what would happen if the majority woke up and went to the polls in 2016?

  • Kyle J

    If only we could elect a governor from Texas as president and give him two terms to deal with the federal budget. Surely that would take care of the problem.

  • Buzz G.

    I started a petition of my own, but it isn’t a temper-tantrum issue like secession. Rather it’s basically a last-ditch attempt to persuade the Obama administration to see the light (at least partly) on the abortion issue and, if nothing else, at least agree to work to reduce the number of abortions as much as possible. As such it’s something readers of this blog would probably appreciate.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/support-bipartisan-commission-find-ways-reduce-abortion-rate-much-possible/DmstBxSG

  • AHH

    One has to wonder how many of those 100K signatures are legit. I’m sure it started that way, but once anything becomes public like that on the Internet it becomes a target for pranks. I bet a search of the names on the petition would turn up some like “Davy Crockett” or “Mickey Mouse” or “Jack Daniels” or “Hugh Jass”.

  • Joshua Wooden

    Oh wait, don’t go. . . . Please stop. . . .

    These petitions are being filed by the same people who undoubtedly questioned the President’s (and any Americans who agreed with him and/or defended him) patriotism. I don’t think anyone has the right to question someone else’s patriotism after petitioning to leave the country when they don’t get their own way.

    Besides that, Forbes reported that government spending has not been so low since Eisenhower. I know this is a difficult concept for the Tea Party – it involves facts.

  • R. M.

    I’m a Texan at heart. I love Texas! Love it! Anyway, just wondering, were the 30,000 signatures from the other states also a vote for Texas to secede :) ?

    If so, I really think that is just sour grapes by the other SEC schools since Texas A&M isn’t nearly the doormat everyone expected.

    Go Aggies! (Sorry for co-opting your blog for purposes of taunting other universities . . . won’t happen again. Just. Couldn’t. Help. Myself.–we’ve not been in this position before.)

    And, I’m sure the 100,000 people are legit. It’s not that many really, and well, Texans are a contentious lot, but I just love them.

  • P.

    And then there are the millions of patriotic Texans from both parties who love America and don’t want to secede. As for the 100,000, nuts will always be with us – bless their hearts.

  • phil_style

    I suspect that Austin would then request succession from Texas.

  • Diane

    I say, let ‘em go! :)

  • Brian Roden

    We have to remember that, at one time, Texas was its own country. The only state that was an independent republic (rather than a territory or possession) before achieving statehood.

  • Jeremy B.

    Any secession would be the death knell of democracy. It wouldn’t be permitted. That said, most Texans I’ve met toss the idea around to be funny, but wouldn’t dream of it.

  • KenB

    Travis … wow, strong language against people expressing their political preferences. I’m not a Texan, but have friends and relatives who live there. Most of them would want to have Texas stay in the Union, but even the ones who would be open to leaving are highly educated, critical thinkers. You ask whether leaving the U.S. would make Texas its own country. Actually, it was its own country, the Republic of Texas, during the time it split from Mexico until it joined the U.S. So seceding would take it back to that status of independence. Part of this whole secession movement puts emphasis on the nature of our country, that we are supposed to be a union or confederation of states. The dialectic of American history develops as the two impulses of federalism and statehood vie for prominence. So please, if you charge someone as a redneck due to ignorance, perhaps you’ll consider first whether that description might fit you, which Jesus advises with the speck vs. the plank.

  • AmyK

    @ R. M. Whooooooop!!! :)

  • Ellen

    @KenB, most of Texas desperately wanted to join the Union because they couldn’t defend their territory on their own. And I say this as a proud Texan!

    And what would secession mean for us? All federal military personnel and spending eliminated (huge numbers there); having to defend more than 3000 miles of border; loss of federal loans for university students, which would decimate our research capacities; loss of federal funding for infrastructure; and, ironically, huge tax increases, since there is currently no income tax and we’d have a lot more to pay for. Even Rick Perry, with all his bluster, doesn’t want it!

  • Patrick

    It’s an accident of birth this earthly citizenship and democracy will easily survive if the USA didn’t.

  • Rob F.

    Kyle J @ 9, I know wouldn’t that be great ;)

    Buzz G @ 10, a recent study by a Washington University School of Medicine OB/GYN (disclosure: I also work for WUSM but don’ know the authors) reported that providing free contraceptives to women dramatically reduced unintended pregnancies and abortions. So it seems Obama is already working to reduce the number abortions via the ACA (btw, providing free contraceptives is cheaper than taking care of unintended pregnancies and abortions). link to study: http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Abstract/publishahead/Preventing_Unintended_Pregnancies_by_Providing.99945.aspx

    More to the point of the post, I lived int TX for 4 years…a secessionist sub-culture has existed for some time. Like-minded folks in my state (MO) are apparently also circulating a secession petition. Let the Obama – Lincoln comparisons begin!

  • Kyle J

    @KenB

    Certainly, there’s always been a tension between state and federal sovereignty. I’d note, though, that there’s a significant distinction between the terms “confederation” and “union.” We tried the “Articles of Confederation”; it didn’t work so well. Then we formed a union (using a document that begins “We, the people,” not “We, the states”), and later fought an extremely bloody war to preserve that union.

    The fact that a significant contingent of people in Texas seem to take the concept of union-hood so lightly is what’s bothersome about this story, the same way it would have been bothersome if Californians had talked about seceding in 2004.

  • Kyle J

    To the extent people really want to explore what the actual consequences of secession would be, here’s a good rundown (with a Chuck Norris joke to boot):

    http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/04/16/foreign_relations_with_texas_if_it_secedes

  • Steve Sherwood

    Puerto Rico wants in, Texas wants out. It’s perfect. We don’t have to spend money on new flags or any time rearranging the number of chairs in the Senate. Let’s get on this.

  • KenB

    @Ellen (21) – I agree that secession wouldn’t be practical, and I’m not arguing for it outright; and, @Kyle J (24), I appreciate the distinction you offer between confederacy and union. My point was to respond to Travis’s (6) calling secessionists “Dumb redneck @$$holes” in pointing out that one can hold that position because of a deeply held or extensively thought-through position, not just out of ignorance or bigotry. Also, I was answering his question of what would status Texas (or any state) would have if they were to secede – they would become a sovereign state. Now, would they be a financially solvent state, able to defend its borders? Most likely not. But the map that we have now is not carved in stone – countries grow, shrink, divide, die out, and at some point, the American republic will change, dissolve, fall. That might happen through peaceful secession, or revolution, or invasion, or some other cause or combination of causes. While I’d rather not have such a dissolution take place, I’d prefer to see it happen peacefully, rather than through a bloody civil war. But at some point, probably not in our lifetimes, the America map will change – it might do so by expanding its boundaries. We may follow more explicitly the path of Rome in going from a republic to an outright empire, thereby adding more territory as has been done in the past. But the USA as is will not always be the case, so considering different possible futures doesn’t automatically make one a “Dumb redneck @$$hole.”

  • Steve

    I can understand that some people might be upset. And I agree with the basic complaint of the petition. But in general it shows a complete disregard for our nation’s unsightly history regarding secession. The Civil War was far worse than any potential financial failure.

    @ Travis Mamone – I do take issue with people like who make assumptions about people’s intellect based on their political leanings, even when they are represented in seemingly foolish and reactive ways such as this petition. Your derogatory remarks drag the conversation even lower. I live in Boston and I am continually fearful of emerging from my conservative political closet (if you will). The immediate demonization of conservatives as rasist or dumb is appalling. That is my context, though I understand it is no less uncivil for progressives in red states.

  • Kyle J

    @KenB

    Gotcha. Otherwise intelligent people make extreme or impractical political statements all the time, so, yes, no point overreacting to it.

  • http://existingbetween.wordpress.com/ Joy F

    Once again – this happens every election, no matter whether a Republican or Democrat wins. The “Texas Manifesto” was written during Bush, who is remember a Texas native son. My family has been in Texas forever (at least as far back as when it was part of Mexico) and well, there are issues with the whole mess.

    Texas seceded from Mexico because Mexico banned slavery. That is the dirty piece of history that seems to get overlooked in the glorification of the Texas Revolutionary war. It was actually 300 families that were transplants from Lousiana and other Southern States that came in and led the revolution – but they were still far out numbered by Tejanos (Spaniards which like my family, had been there since Cortes) and Native Americans. Texas would have been taken back but for US intervention, which was mainly because the US decided it wanted California and would have to take Texas and the rest of the Southwest to get it. There are even preserved letters to Senators in DC basically saying “Texas is a piece of crap – but California is worth fighting Mexico for!”

    This is actually still the reason Texas is only sort of a Southern state – you will actually see more flags of Mexico than the Confederacy. We get to learn about our nasty racist past in 8th grade “Texas History” class (or seventh? I don’t know, it’s been a long time since I was in Junior High).

    The secessationists? General thought is they are a dying breed of white minority and that Texans would never vote for that. But they are amusing to watch.

    Oh and yes, Austin votes to secede from Texas whenever they do something like this. We want to keep UT in the US. Of course we would have to change the name to “University of Austin” I guess. I’m actually an A&M grad…….

  • http://existingbetween.wordpress.com/ Joy F

    I seriously don’t know why this is getting so much attention now – it happens EVERY FREAKIN ELECTION. Why the publicity this time? It’s less signatures than when they did it during Clinton and that included a stand off with the police – in Houston I think……that’s been a while.

  • http://timfall.wordpress.com/ Tim

    Hey Brian Roden #17, what about California’s Bear Flag Republic? 26 days of sovereignty ought to count for something!


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