As you may have noticed, following the reelection of Barack Obama, many Americans got a bit upset. In fact they were so upset that they did what people do nowadays when they feel angry - they went on the Internet and moaned about it.
But these were not ordinary whinges, oh no. You see, the
US government has a pointless website
called “We the people” where anyone can go and pretend to interact with the
authorities. In this corner of cyberspace ordinary citizens create petitions
that will be completely ignored, as is the custom of advanced democracies all over
Anyway, apparently lots of people created petitions pleading with the White House to permit their states to secede from the
Union. America is
based on an act of secession, and so this is a potent symbol. Even if the
petitions are not serious, they imply that hundreds of thousands of people
believe the Federal Government has become tyrannical, unrepresentative, and (of
course) that it takes far too much in tax.
Petitions were filed in all fifty states, with the greatest number of signatures coming from
Texas. Currently over
115,000 people have signed that one, easily clearing the 25,000 threshold that
requires an official response from the Federal Government. By contrast “Take
Action to minimize and protect against the threats of a warming planet” has
only 172 while even the intriguing “Transfer funds from the drug war to fund
the research and development of the genetic engineering of domestic cat girls”
can only muster 222.
I wasn’t surprised: I’ve been living here for six years, and it’s not the first time the question of secession has come up. In the early days of the Tea Party, Governor Rick Perry mumbled a few words about secession on the steps of the state capitol and got a big whoop from the crowd. Shortly thereafter Chuck Norris floated the idea of running for president of an independent
He played a Texas Ranger on TV after all and so is eminently qualified to lead
us, even if he is from Oklahoma.
Sadly that never happened, and President Chuck remains a wistful dream.
Even so, most Texans feel the state is stronger as a part of the
US and so secession fever is not
widespread. I know, because I attended a meeting of the Texas Nationalists on
the 175th anniversary of Texas
independence. Though they claim to have 250, 000 members they could only muster
about 30 folk for a meeting in a hotel built on the grounds of the Alamo itself. They were very peaceful people, prone to crying
when they looked out the window at the old mission building opposite.
That may surprise some people as
has a reputation as a hotbed of right-wing nut-job militias. Indeed, I know a journalist
who makes a good living by selling stories based on this myth to foreign
newspapers. But to find real lunacy you have to look back to the 1990s and two
botched raids that occurred under the Clinton
administration. The first was at Ruby Ridge where two people and a dog died,
while the second was at Waco,
where as a result of epic FBI and ATF incompetence, seventy-six men, women and
children burned to death.
Cue massive anti-government paranoia and the 1995 formation of the
movement, which soon split into a handful of squabbling factions. One group got
in trouble in 1996 when they held two people hostage for a week, demanding the
release of some imprisoned Republic of Texas Texas
nationalists. The Texas Rangers cracked a few skulls and that was the end of
After that another faction declared Overton (pop. 2,554) the capitol of an independent
Texas and started
issuing passports and driving licenses. The movement HQ burned down in 2005.
They never rebuilt it.
Even if secessionists are not a serious force in
politics, I do like to fantasize: it would be very interesting to live in a
hardcore right-wing nation with a strong streak of libertarianism. But the truth
is there are several Texases.
In the West we have desert, reptiles and oil. Dallas and Houston are humongous
cities of big business. In East Texas you have
trees and hillbillies. In the south, Texas
blends with Mexico.
Up in the Panhandle there’s… nothing. And in Austin, you have lefties, computer nerds and Sandra
Bullock. Indeed, last week a man in Austin
created a counter petition pleasing for the liberal city to secede from the
rest of the state.
Texas contains sectarian divisions that could result in a
type situation following independence. Indeed, the bloodshed would be so awful
that I fear not even Chuck Norris could save us.