British voters’ June decision to withdraw from the European Union in a move popularly known as “Brexit” has apparently reinvigorated discussion of Texas secession, particularly in online circles. Prime evidence of this is that in the wake of the UK referendum, the Brexit-inspired hashtag #Texit promptly cruised to the top of Facebook’s trending feed – which it proceeded to dominate for several days.
Facebook newsfeed supremacy is no small feat, especially for a traditionally right-oriented topic like secession; the social network is known to manipulate its featured content rather… well… liberally. Considering this bias – along with the fierce competition of other trending topics, like Brexit itself – I was amazed at Texit’s apparently massive online treatment.
I have to think that some of the attention wasn’t entirely serious. Likely many web-users see Texit as merely goofy, edgy, or ripe for dank memes. Of course they know that, realistically, Texit is implausible. Or unwelcome. Or illegal.
Or is it? May I suggest that a Texan exit is not only an interesting cause, but also a legitimate one? Just like Brexit?
“But Brexit is different,” some will say. “The EU is just an international organization. The US is a country.”
Not so fast. The US was also called a Union once; it still is on occasion (consider the name of the State of the Union address, which is identical to its EU counterpart). Also, historically the word state has referred to a nation under a single government. Just as the European Union comprises member states – like France, Germany, and the rest – the American Union also comprises annexed states – like Texas.
This shared terminology has a political basis: the same reason that the treaty concluding the American Revolution individually listed each of the thirteen colonies as newly independent entities, and that until after the Civil War the US was typically referred to in the plural (“the United States are,” not “the United States is”). It reflects an original understanding of the American states as representing separate, sovereign peoples.
According to the compact theory of the US Constitution, the individual states, having preceded the federal government and having themselves created it, naturally retain the final say in their own fates – including the right to leave. This nature of the American system is epitomized by the Tenth Amendment, which codifies the reservation of state sovereignty.
In sum, however strange this seems today, the US, certainly under the Articles of Confederation but also as conceived under the Constitution, was once perceived the way we perceive the EU now: as a voluntary association of independent states.
In fact, Europe’s federal government is already much more powerful than America’s was intended. The EU not only maintains a court system and military, regulates interstate commerce, collects taxes, and performs other functions familiar to the US Constitution; but it also manages its own central bank and fiat currency, censors unapproved speech, and imposes stifling regulatory burdens, among other interventions.
If it’s unfair to hold the European government to America’s original constitutional limits, the American record is even worse. For example, the US federal government tightly manages its financial and medical sectors, oversees a socialized education system, strictly regulates food and drugs, conducts sweeping social programs, administers corporate subsidies and bailouts, operates the world’s largest prison system and surveillance apparatus, imposes a morass of internal taxation beyond the Revolutionaries’ worst fears, and perpetrates unending, unauthorized foreign occupations and wars.
America went without any of these policies for most of its existence. Although most Americans today would think some are important, their constitutionality is absurd. Given this clear-cut case of the United States’ long-drawn centralization of power, it’s not hard to imagine the EU similarly consolidating into its own superstate such that secession becomes as unthinkable as it is today in the US. For some European officials, that has always been the plan.
But Brexit has monkeywrenched the plan. And Americans were paying attention. Even now, long after the post-Brexit hysteria has fizzled out, discussion of Texit continues to surface. Indeed, the most prominent Texcessionist organization, the Texas Nationalist Movement, recently surged in online popularity and currently boasts hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers. It appears that more than a few Americans are questioning the sanctity of a system whereby one self-interested city presides over hundreds of millions of people. Is that necessarily unreasonable?
We’ve been propagandized for so long against considering alternatives to rule by our DC overlords. According to the pledge that American schoolchildren recite every day, our country is “one nation,” “indivisible.” But these words – the products of world war fascism – run contrary to the very founding of this country. After all, our proudest national holiday celebrates an illegal declaration of secession – a Brexit, if you will. Americanism is rooted in decentralization.
So the next time you encounter talk of Texas secession, don’t just dismiss it outright – as foolish, or selfish, or hateful, or anti-American. Because Texit is none of those things. Texit only asks a simple question, to be judged by its answers: Would the Lone Star State be better off on its own?
I think that’s a conversation worth having.