I never got the impression that Texans were thrilled to be a part of the American experiment. It has always seemed that the state of Texas never forgot the Republic of Texas long enough to be comfortable as a part of the United States. Shortly after it joined the Union in 1845, it jumped ship to join the Confederacy in the Civil War, and ever since Reconstruction, there have been murmurs of secession.
Within the past few days, those murmurs have been distilled into a petition asking the Obama administration to grant Texas the right to withdraw from the U.S. The petition appeared on the White House’s official website and has been electronically signed by 37,072 citizens, most of them from Texas. Petitions with more than 25,000 signatures are eligible for presidential consideration.
My understanding is that the state of Texas has always made it clear that its involvement in the United States is strictly conditional. Consider Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2009 speculation, reported by ABC News, that “If Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. … Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.” Granted, Perry has made it very clear he is not at all interested in secession. But he has tapped into the lingering sentiment of Texan independence.
If the United States of America were a dinner party, Texas would be the guest who arrived a little bit late and made a show of saying, “Well, I have another event to be at tonight, but I thought I’d stop by for a quick hello, but I really have to be going at some point.” Later, Texas would get into an altercation with other guests and raise its voice, proclaiming, “Really, I should be going. I’ve lost my appetite.”
I have a couple questions about this whole scenario. First of all, would Texas really do well on its own? Personally, I think Texas is better off as a state than it would be as a country. On the other hand, should America make a serious effort to keep Texas around? Absolutely – we need Texas for its natural resources and college and professional football, and moreover we like Texas.
Texan petitions to secede from the U.S. should be taken seriously, but not too seriously. The fact people in Texas are unhappy with the way things are going in Washington is a legitimate concern, but no more legitimate than the complaints of Wisconsinites or New Yorkers. Actually, if it keeps playing the secession card, Texas risks turning its complaints with federal government into a running joke.
Charles Godfrey (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a junior majoring in physics and math.