Secession, a word filled with angst, harbinger of civil war, destroyed cities, and refugee populations fleeing war’s destruction. Notwithstanding, the Texas Republican Primary ballot this year might just offer Texans the chance to voice their opinion on severing ties to the United States of America.
Many non-Texans forget that Texas was once a sovereign nation for nine years, a nation born of strife just like the USA. Texas won sovereignty from Mexico the hard way, through rebellion and war. The cry ‘Remember the Alamo’ echoes with Mexican pleas for mercy, ‘Me no Alamo, me no Goliad’ claiming non-participation in the mass Mexican atrocities committed in both battles. Almost everyone remembers Congressman Davy Crockett’s famous statement, ‘You can go to hell but I’m going to Texas.’ He did just that and expended his notable life at the Alamo along with so many other brave men ultimately buying time for Sam Houston to raise an army. I’ve known some Yankees living in El Paso who thought they were in hell.
Texas v White, a Supreme Court decision, held that a state cannot secede from the Union by action of that state. Justice Scalia opined that, “if there was any Constitutional Issue settled by the [US] Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. Nevertheless, the 20th century saw several organized efforts to free Texas from the binds of union.
Texans claim unique right of future severance. In 2002, then Texas governor Rick Perry carried the cry for Lone Star independence and again at a Tea Party conference in 2009. He commented, “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?”.
Most people, especially Texans, believe that Texas joined the Union with a proviso that it could at some point in the future choose to leave that union. In fact, Texans joined the Union in 1845 on the condition that it can split itself into as many as five separate states whenever it wanted to, contingent only on the approval of its own state legislature (see previous link).
So what has so many Texans up at arms?
As a native Texan albeit expatriate, I know the ‘the stars are big and bright in the heart of Texas’ and that the ‘eyes of Texas are upon me.’ Traveling abroad, I saw firsthand how the world loves Texans. British big game hunters moan and sigh that, all of the fine old British double rifles are now in Texas. We may travel on a US Passport but as Texans, we walk the world’s stage bigger than life. The movie Giant and other equally famous along with the TV show ‘Dallas’ is watched around the world and not even the evil machinations of JR diminished the image of Texans being rich, brash, and powerful. Most Texans ‘know’ they live in the best state of the Union.
‘Thems fightn words,’ often follows the cry to secession. So one might inquire, what makes Texans believe they could successfully ‘go it on their own?’ For one thing, they fought an international war for that right and did so as an independant nation for nine years. Patriots of the young Lone Star Republic completely and thoroughly defeated the much older and more established nation of Mexico. To this day, Texans derogatively describe the imagery on the Mexican flag as a ‘buzzard eating a worm.’ Most Texans are fed up with the peaceful invasion of illegal Mexicans and their quiet muttering of ‘Reconquista’ (Mexico taking back the territory of Texas by conquest), do nothing to make Texans feel better about their teeming hordes. These new citizens, legal or not, all too often keep to their national origin never learning (or at least not speaking) English. As refugees, they make the worst of citizens seeking freedom but without making the requisite sacrifices so necessary to good citizenship.
Would the US engage in another civil war if Texans decided to secede? Certainly, some say. To which I respond, brash they might be but stupid most Texans aren’t. Should they choose to secede, Texans could quickly be faced with a two front war and absent other factors, even the brave members of the Texas National Guard might soon be overwhelmed. Perhaps.
Now consider what might happen if an army of a newly constituted Republic of Texas took over the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas. By doing so, the new Republic would find itself in possession of about half of the Union’s nuclear tactical and strategic arsenal.
These are finished weapons; not fissile materials, but real warm to the touch nuclear bombs that would likely include the venerable W82s (two kiloton yield, 34 inches in length weighing just less than 100 pounds, and intended to be fired from 155mm howitzers) and of course other, more potent weapons. I mention the W82 because the weapon engineers at Lawrence Livermore specifically designed that weapon as a countermeasure to invasion.
Depending upon timing and dismantled weapon materials, Texas could even become in possession of more nuclear weapons than held by the remainder of US forces. If one such weapon is too many for a rogue nation to possess, what about possession of half of the nation’s tactical and strategic stockpile? Should Texans somehow spirit away the weapons at Pantex, would the US really rush to war? Would Mexico seriously consider the Reconquista?
Nuclear weapons notwithstanding, Texas is home to Lockheed Martin, manufacturer of the F16 Fighting Falcon, the F35, and F22 Raptor, as well as Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. It is home to Bell Helicopter Textron that makes the V22 and H1. BAE Systems manufactures the family of medium tactical vehicles at Sealy, Texas. The list of Texas’ warfighting manfacturing assets is lengthy.
Unlike many nanny states, Texas exports intellectual capitol, energy, and food. Texas A&M is one of the nation’s senior military colleges. UT Austin is another premier academic institution attracting many Nobel Prize winners. Texas has seaports, oil and natural gas production, petrochemical refineries, and great general infrastructure including its own power grid. It even has its own gold reserves of at least one billion US dollars, which is likely more than actually held in Fort Knox. Texas is home to six of the top 50 companies on the Fortune 500 list with just over one tenth of that august list, ranking third in order of such companies after California and New York. In 2012, Texas grossed more than 265 billion dollars in exports making it the world’s 12 largest economy (exceeding Australia).
Most important, Texas is populated with independent people who reject the concept of a nanny state. The Texas Legislature even requires each county to have a balanced budget. Now where would our nation be if this was requirement both state and nationwide?
I sincerely hope Texas remains with the Union. I do. If it doesn’t, then I am faced with difficult choices. One son lives in Texas, my physician daughter is headed back there as soon as possible. I am a native son. All of the sudden I am possessed with new insight as to how vexed those born in the south were just before the Civil War.
I have new understanding of some of the forces acting on Robert E. Lee and those many that ignored their oaths of office and sworn fealty to the Constitution. On the other hand, the possibilities suggested by a Republic of Texas are exciting. The thought of new challenges, new responsibilities, and sincere hope of getting things government right for change; creating a framework for independence free of federal meddling, these things make sleep difficult.
For once a politician may have said something right, “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?”