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Exploring The Secessionist Impulse in Texas

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“Sovereignty or Secession” Rally in Austin, Texas on August 29, 2009.

Lately the media has made much of Texas secession, a so-called movement made popular again by Governor Rick Perry who likes to throw the idea around now and then and one that gained much steam when President Obama was re-elected in November.

Take for example, Texas’ most prominent secessionist, Larry Kilgore of Arlington. Kilgore, who ran for U.S. Senator as a Republican candidate against John Cornyn in 2008 with the platform, “Secession! All other issues can be dealt with later,” made national headlines when he legally changed his middle name to SECEDE (all-caps included) after the president defeated Mitt Romney. Kilgore used the publicity stunt to announce that he’d be running for governor in 2014. I, for one, look forward to the “Punish Porn Crime! Deuteronomy 25:1-3” bumper stickers.

Then there was the secession petition submitted to the White House website. The petition received the requisite 25,000 signatures within days and went on to collect over 100,000 by the deadline. The White House says it will respond to any petition that receives 25,000 signatures in 30 days, but Governor Perry has said that Texas will not secede, because he “believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it.” Oh, how the mighty have flip-flopped.

Last week, one pro-secession group, the Texas Nationalist Movement, took things a step further by announcing their own political action committee “signaling the organization’s most significant venture into the legislative process in pursuit of Texas independence” to date. Which leads me to wonder, are these people serious?

Once upon a time, secession talk was a joke to brag about the size of Texas, both geographically and economically. This most recent wave of secessionists, however, is a direct result of President Obama’s re-election. The fact that those screaming “secession” the loudest are overwhelmingly white, conservative, southern men, leaves me with the impression that a) they’re serious, (or they think they’re serious. I doubt the vast majority have the cojones), and b) that racist nativism is the fuel to their fire.

Which is what makes the idea of an independent Texas so funny. What these angry, white men don’t seem to realize is that if Texas breaks off from the rest of the United States, it will instantly become a nation in which people of color are the majority. According to the 2010 census, Texas grew the most of any state in America and 95 percent of Texas’ child population growth occurred among Hispanics.

With those demographics, it woudn’t be long before Texas is no longer a red state. And if you think there’s too much Spanish spoken in Texas now, just wait until we don’t have to communicate with Washington anymore. Spanglish will be the official language of Tejas in no time with breakfast tacos being the official food. Lastly, if you’re into blaming President Obama for the economy, Market Watch says leaving the U.S. will throw any Southern state into a desperate recession, leaving citizens paying more in taxes than they do now and receiving less in government services. Those poor secessionists will find themselves in the very situation they sought to avoid by leaving the U.S. Where will they secede to then? The Republic of The Woodlands? PlanoLand? To paraphrase the words of a guy who talks to chairs, Go ahead. Make my day.

Cindy Casares is a columnist for the Texas Observer. She is also the founding Editor of Guanabee Media, an English-language, pop culture blog network about Latinos established in 2007. She has a Master's in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. Prior to her career in journalism, she spent ten years in New York City as an advertising copywriter. During her undergraduate career at the University of Texas she served under Governor Ann Richards as a Senate Messenger during the 72nd Texas Legislature.

  • Ellen Backke

    Just how long has it been since Texas school children have been taught critical thinking skills? Wouldn’t Texas lose things like the military economy and the medical research industry. I suspect the energy companies would keep the plants but move their headquarters and Texas would quickly become a third-world nation.

  • clr1390

    Pack em up and move on down the road. We will take all those federal jobs in OHIO….I do not know what kind of government you are going to have because if you do not like the election process unless your guy wins, you are s o o l…We are all going to sit back and laugh our a** off when your taxes go up times 50 and your roads sit there a rot some more, and the rate of uninsured goes up even more than it is now….Nothing like a climb to the bottom….

  • Matthew Taylor

    This article has been linked on

  • Arnnmann

    . . . down with the traitors, and up with the flag . . .

    Just sayin’. But you’re right. I think this is a movement at whose heart are middle-aged and older, white males who feel their grip on things slipping away. All the blatherskite about sovereignty, secession and “independence” is just those old boys whistling past the graveyard. None of them have given the slightest thought to what “independence” would mean.

    Nor do they have any real perspective on what secession meant for Texas in the 19th Century. I saw a video of a “secessionist” rally, here on this site–the event occurred a year or two ago–in which a 300 pound white boy in tight jeans and high-heeled cowboy boots call on the memory of Sam Houston to bless the cause. Sam Houston? Sam Houston was removed from the governorship for opposing secession. Jeesh.

    Anyway, I don’t really think you all have much to worry about in regards to secession. The problem is what the state and its government are going to look like after the wingnuts are finally finished remaking it in their own image.