Recently, David Paul wrote a very detailed and fact-based essay for Smerconish.com titled “If Texas Wants To Secede, No One Should Stand In Its Way”. As a frequent contributor to this site, who enjoys the work of many who have published here, I want to be constructive in stating my disagreement. As a patriotic American who is now living in Texas, my feeling is there is no reason for the nation to step aside if it wants to leave our Union.
Let me state for the record that this essay is motivated more from the heart and not a ton of statistics. However, we do need to look at some data. At the beginning of this century, the United States Census estimated Texas had 20,851,820 residents, and today that number is around 28,995,881 – a 40% increase in population. While there is no polling to support this, I assume that many of those people who moved to Texas would still want to keep the citizenship of their home state. Furthermore, I surmise that many Texas natives would want the state to be part of the United States.
Read “If Texas Wants to Secede, No One Should Stand in Its Way.” by David Paul
Before you jump to the conclusion that folks moved here knowing they were signing up for Texas Libertarianism, I would say that election trends do not back that. Since 1980, when Ronald Reagan trounced Jimmy Carter by 14 points, the state has been voting for Republican candidates for President. Since the favorite son and former Texas Governor George W. Bush has been off of the ticket, that number has been eroding. In 2012, President Barack Obama lost the state by 16% points. That margin went down to 9% points in 2016 and 6% points in 2020 for President Donald Trump.
At this point, one might throw in that Beto O’Rourke only lost by a couple of points in his challenge to Ted Cruz. There are electoral trends that back up the point that most Texas residents don’t subscribe to the hardline Allen West viewpoint. Senator John Cornyn was just re-elected to his fourth term, but his margin of victory slipped from 27% in 2014 to 9.6% in 2020. Also, one would need to see what is going on in the state capitol. The make-up of the Texas legislature has changed significantly. In the state legislature, there are 150 members elected each session. In 2011, there were only 49 Democrats. That number has increased to 67 Democrats. It has been two decades since Democrats controlled the legislature, but the trends are in their favor thanks to a formidable ground game helmed by Beto O’Rourke and other grassroots organizations.
There is a rather oft-stated quote that is attributed to Governor Greg Abbott. It is “Don’t California My Texas’”, which I suppose roughly translates to don’t over-regulate, and don’t enforce a liberal social justice bias in-laws and education. But despite these catchy slogans, my belief is these political trends show that not all Texans are buying into that agenda set by Abbott and the GOP’s strain of Trumpism.
So, beyond the numbers, what are the unforeseen downsides to allowing a state (or a number of states) to secede?
Let’s start with the fact that many of those who do not agree with the reason for succession or want to support their country will do one of two things – leave Texas or stay for whatever conflict might arise from such a separation. In the case of the former, the state would be losing brainpower and human resources. In the second case, the state would undergo massive social upheaval from such an ignominious divorce from the U.S. At its worst, succession could spur – and frankly, this does have to be considered – widespread violence. Neither scenario serves Texas well.
As Mr. Paul aptly noted in his piece on Texas secession, the Lone Star State receives a substantial amount of federal funding thanks to the other states in the Union. While Paul stated this as a reason for Texas to leave since it unburdens the other states, for me, it is the exact reason why Texas needs to stay.
Look at what Texas would have to pay for, on its own, as a nation. Let’s start with basic infrastructure. As we saw during the recent winter freeze, the electric grid of Texas, ERCOT, is not up to date and has not been maintained. To date, the legislature and the state officials of Texas have done little to fix this problem. Beyond the basics of roads, water, education, a whole group of burdens would be barred by the citizens of this newborn nation. There would have to be a national defense put in place – an army, navy, and air force – with all the modern weaponry to defend its borders. That isn’t cheap.
Although there is an upside here. It would teach the citizens that these items are not paid for with patriotism and pixie dust. There is a need, however unpleasant, for taxation.
All of the above, the turmoil of society and the cost of government, would be an incredible burden to this new nation’s economy. From the issuing of currency to the economic policy of the new nation, a number of significant policies would have to be put forth. Texas would have to establish itself as a place where foreign investment could thrive – from the buying of state bonds to the investment in corporations – was safe and profitable.
As we have seen with the painful Brexit process, the solution of taking one’s marbles and going home is anything but simple. What we need to do as states and as a nation is understand that we are all in this time and place together. We also need to respect the fact that nothing worth achieving is ever easy, and that reaching out to those who don’t agree with our viewpoints and trying to persuade them to understand our viewpoint is better than breaking a nation.