From time to time in our nation’s 233-year history, there have been various efforts for one or more states to leave the Union. Although the Civil War is the most obvious example, some New England states threatened to bolt during the Jeffersonian ascendency in the early 19th Century. Some southern and border states threatened to leave during the nullification battles led by John C. Calhoun and others in the 1830’s. Most of these seem to be for history books but one learns by reading history to never say never again, unfortunately. After George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, there was some noise raised by the state of Vermont to leave the Union and presumably ask to join Canada. Realistically, that was just some political activists blowing off steam, as Vermont has a population less than metropolitan Baton Rouge.
Similar whispering is taking place in Texas now, which began a year ago at tax time and has continued to receive mention from chattering classes inside and outside of the state. Part of the reason is Texas’ somewhat unique relationship compared to most other states, as it was famously an independent republic before joining the Union in 1845. Because of this, Texas has long had an independent streak that non-Texas quickly learn when visiting there.
For many years Texas was sort of a blown up “Texas-sized” version of the old South with production agriculture and ranching leading a fairly poor economy by national standards. The discovery of petroleum in the early 20th century began to transform the state but the stereotypes of Texas remain to this day. Antiquated notions of cowboys and nouveau riche oilmen in ten gallon hats are about 50 years out of date.
Texas in the second half of the 20th Century, with no state income tax along with low business taxes and regulations, became a technology center with companies like Texas Instruments and Dell Computers leading the way. The Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW) and Houston metropolitan areas became magnets for Forbes 500 business to locate. Houston is dominant in the corporate energy sector, while DFW has a little of everything else. Cities like Austin and San Antonio are home to a plethora of IT and telecommunications companies. The state boasts a robust defense and aerospace industry with thousands of high wage science and engineering jobs. By the beginning of the 21st Century, Texas had become the second largest state by population and by virtue of its border with Mexico and access to the Gulf of Mexico, a trade powerhouse with Central and South America.
Events in recent years have increased Texas’ importance to the US even further. Although studies vary, it is estimated that Texas has generated upwards of one-third of all non-farm jobs in the US over the past two years! The state has seen numerous corporate re-locations from high tax states like California and New York. While these two large states struggle to avoid bankruptcy, Texas boasts a sterling bond rating and continues to generate jobs and tax revenues for Uncle Sam.
Ah yes, Uncle Sam, Texas literally remains the biggest obstacle to President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid’s dreams of transforming the US into France or Germany. The chattering classes in Texas see the tea party activity burgeoning and Washington, DC elites completely ignoring their concerns. The recently passed health care debacle and deficit and debt spiraling out of control will only increase these discussions, generally in private away from cameras.
Now on the one had, it seems preposterous that any state, even Texas, would seriously consider leaving the union. But upon further reflection, Texas is the one state that could seriously undertake this momentous decision and any discussions of this should be taken deadly seriously. The Lone Star State has the population, the energy resources, production agriculture capabilities, financial services, telecommunications, military technology and manpower, and strategic location to survive and prosper as an independent nation.
What is distressing is to think of how many coastal liberals would arguably cheer Texas’ departure. “Good riddance,” some would say, “those damned Texans are intolerant bigots and we would be better off without those rogue cowboys.” What these people do not realize is that without Texas’ economic muscle, the US would be in even worse shape than we already are, a truly scary thought. Any effort to goad Texas into leaving the Union is a serious mistake; in fact it is catastrophic for the United States of America. It would lead to other states likely leaving and a massive military conflict that will kill the country and with it the hopes of men yearning to be free around the world.
The political class in DC should look to the Texas model as a blue print for success. Instead, they implement the California model that if carried out further, could seriously threaten the Union. This is no laughing matter and the DC establishment needs to wake up. Choices have consequences that no cocktail party or forum discussion can paper over.