Can it happen in Texas, too?
The United Kingdom’s bombshell decision to quit the European Union has emboldened a long-gestating secessionist movement in Texas, where disenchanted residents of the second-largest U.S. state have been building a coalition of voters, hoping to finally put the matter of Texas independence up for a state referendum vote.
Supporters of a so-called Texit say they feel a kinship with their British brethren, who shocked the world Thursday with a “leave” vote of 52 percent that defied the predictions of many experts.
“From the looks of it, the British people have chosen to take control of their political and economic destiny,” Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, said in a statement early Friday. “The forces of fear have lost. It is now important for Texas to look to Brexit as an inspiration and an example that Texans can also take control of our destiny. It is time for Texans to rally with us and fight for the right to become a self-governing nation.”
The Texas Nationalist Movement bills itself as the “largest independence movement in the United States” and one of the largest in the world. Members say they have been recruiting support from hundreds of elected officials in the state legislature and have been collecting signatures from voters, asking them to pledge a “yes” vote.
The movement suffered a blow at the Texas Republican Convention in May, when state delegates declined to endorse the idea of a referendum on secession, but that it got as far as it did was a surprise to many who have dismissed a Texit as an impractical solution dreamed up by a fringe movement.
Now, with Britons voting to go it alone, Texas nationalists are getting a second wind. Across social media Friday, revitalized Lone Stars voiced their support under the hashtag #Texit, saying it’s time to take the idea seriously. Like the Brexit movement, the modern rise of Texas nationalism is driven by a mix of economic and political ideals, including a conservative distaste for big government and polarizing attitudes toward immigration policies. Underpinning both movements is the idea that large unions are no longer serving the needs of their individual member states.
The matter of Texas has bubbled up from time to time since the Civil War, in part due to the state’s unique history. Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836 and was a sovereign country for a decade before becoming annexed by the United States.
But despite the popular belief that the current Texas constitution gives the state the right to pull out of the United States at will, the Supreme Court has said otherwise, ruling in 1869 that states can’t unilaterally secede from the union, as the Texas Tribune noted.
Still, that same news outlet conceded in April that the secession debate is “getting kind of real,” while the Texas Nationalist Movement points out that no actual law exists that expressly forbids secession. As our friends across the pond proved Thursday, anything is possible.