There is an old adage that says that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. However, in this day and age, it might be more appropriate to say that those who blind themselves to the world are doomed to perpetual surprise.
Such was the surprise delivered to the world when the people of the United Kingdom voted to exit the political and economic experiment called the European Union. The campaign, the vote and the eventual exit has become known as “Brexit” and has spawned a renewed international interest in the right of people to choose how they are governed and has sparked a fundamental examination of globalization and the economic and political order.
The Brexit fight has forced the world, and the political class, to pay attention to the number of nations where independence movements have been steadily, and often silently, growing for years. And one word seems to have captured the attention of the world – Texit.
It is important to understand that a Brexit-style movement in Texas did not launch the day after the British referendum. It has existed as a legitimate, viable political force for nearly two decades and its very existence and its success are on track to create another international surprise.
The roots of the movement for Texas independence are deep and complex but the modern day incarnation echoes many themes that will seem familiar to anyone who closely watched the Brexit debate in the UK.
Excessive regulation. Bloated and wasteful bureaucracy. The resistance to having laws made in a far-flung capitol. A lack of final authority over law and policy. A serious imbalance between taxes paid into a central government and how much is received. Blanket policies that erode national borders and create an immigration free-for-all that strains infrastructure and public services. An immunity on the part of the central government to serious reform or devolution of power to the constituent states.
And the common themes are not just borne of grievance. The themes also contain a message of hope.
“Our economy is strong but it can be stronger and we can experience unparalleled prosperity.” “The best people to govern our country are our people.” “We can re-engage the world in trade.” “We are big enough, strong enough, and good enough to govern ourselves.”
These themes are present in both the Brexit and Texit movements and have been since their inception. To prove this point, the fuel for the Texas independence fire can be summed up succinctly.
The people of Texas are tired of being governed by bureaucrats that we didn’t elect, forcing policies on us that we don’t want.
We recognize that every Texan only gets to vote for four actual people in a Federal bureaucracy that contains over 1.5 million people.
The people of Texas are bent double by the weight of over 180,000 Federal laws, rules and regulations administered by 440 separate agencies and commissions where nearly 90,000 unelected bureaucrats earn more than our Governor.
We recognize that no matter the laws and policies that we decide to live under here in Texas, they can be overridden by a Federal Government that does not know us, care for us, or understand the challenges that we face.
We can no longer justify sending $400 billion per year to a Federal system that returns only a portion.
We believe that the best people to govern Texas are Texans. With the 9th largest economy in the world, a stable regulatory climate, and the drive to innovate, we are big enough, we are strong enough, and we are good enough to be an independent nation.
If this sounds familiar, it should if you followed the Brexit debate. This is the argument that the “Leave” side used with the figures and actors changed to reflect the reality in Texas. More importantly, this is the case that the Texas Nationalist Movement has used for over a decade to advocate for a Brexit-style referendum on Texas independence.
And this argument has been used to great effect. Due to the efforts of the TNM, support for Texas independence has sharply risen over the last decade. In a 2014 Reuters poll, the question was asked, “Do you support or oppose the idea of your state peacefully withdrawing from the USA and the federal government?” In Texas, where the majority of the electorate is comprised of Republicans and Independents, among those groups, 51% support what is now called Texit.
In a union where less than 10% believe that the Federal Government can be trusted or fixed, there is a sense among Texans that it’s just time to part company with a political and economic union that no longer works for us. Even the hero of the Texas Revolution, Sam Houston, after the annexation of Texas said, “Texas will again lift its head and stand among the nations.” And much to the surprise of many, Texans, in increasing numbers, are looking across the Atlantic and believing that our time has come.