As news of the British vote to exit the European Union (EU) dropped on Thursday, activists and pundits took to Twitter to call for Texas and Florida to withdraw from the American Union. Since Texas is the only state to have been its own independent country (and since the only people calling for #Flexit were not Floridians), I will only address the absurdity of #Texit.
As Reuters reported, Texas secessionists saw the citizen-driven vote in Britain as a potential model for #Texit. Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, noted that Texas was an independent country from 1836 to 1845, and its $1.6 trillion economy would be among the ten largest in the world.
“The Texas Nationalist Movement is formally calling on the Texas governor [Greg Abbott] to support a similar vote for Texans,” Miller’s movement said on Friday. The group claims about 250,000 supporters, and while it failed to place a vote on secession on the November ballot this year, it aims to relaunch its campaign for the 2018 election cycle, Miller told Reuters.
Support for Texit rang out from many corners of social media.
Here’s conservative pundit Matt Walsh.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 24, 2016
Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly, who ran for Congress in 2010 and 2012.
Even Hugh Hewitt.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) June 24, 2016
“Texit is in the air,” Miller declared. No, no it isn’t. Get your head out of the clouds. There is one very clear, very concrete reason Texas cannot secede, and it is indeed shameful for you to call for such a thing. But before I get to that, we need to talk about why #Texit is not just another version of #Brexit. Next Page: Why #Texit is NOT #Brexit. #Brexit succeeded for a number of reasons, but primary among them is the fact that Britain has been its own country far longer than it has been part of the European Union. The EU also makes many decisions for a country like Britain which naturally grate on British citizens — openness to immigration foremost among them.
When Britain voted to remove itself from the EU, it reverting to the status quo, and reaffirming British nationalism. Britain had been part of the EU since 1973, but the organization had been gaining power throughout that time. And even 43 years is peanuts compared to 171 (Texas joined the union in 1845). This is a strong movement for Britons, especially given their history as the empire upon which “the sun never set.”
Eric Metaxas emphasized the “Patriotism, not Nationalism” involved.
Brexit Shows Patriotism, not Nationalism! JUST what we need in the U.S.A.! Which is why I wrote IF YOU CAN KEEP IT. https://t.co/cwGDEzsf5K
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) June 24, 2016
Tucker Carlson linked #Brexit to a “global nationalist movement.”
Sorry, Texas, but you weren’t a nation recently or for very long. #Texit would not be a reversion to the status quo, it would be a wrenching reversal of it. Furthermore, it would be a huge insult on the approximately 750,000 Americans who died in the bloodiest war of our history.
Why Texas cannot secede, or “Stop trying to make Texit happen, it’s not going to happen!”
#Texit happened TWICE before — once against Mexico and then against the United States. Even against Mexico, the majority of Texans had gone west from the United States, and so Texas itself was a sort of U.S. colony before it became fully a state.
#Texit fundamentally cannot happen because of this little event I like to call “The Civil War.” More than 600,000 Americans died in this war, more than in any other war in American history (in fact, a 2012 historical estimate put the number higher than previously thought, between 650,000 and 850,000 for both sides).
Contrary to popular belief, the Civil War was not only about states’ rights or slavery — it was about a constitutional argument that states did not have the legal right to secede from the union. President Abraham Lincoln made the argument that the Constitution does not have a secession clause, the union is meant to be perpetual, and one state cannot unilaterally remove itself from the union.
The southern states claimed that they had the right to secede, but there were two primary reasons why they wanted to withdraw from the union: Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery, and southern control of the federal government had been eroding slowly. Lincoln’s victory in the 1860 election wasn’t just a win for the Republicans — it was a final sign that the South had lost its control over the federal government. Also, Lincoln never ran on a platform of abolition of slavery, just opposing the expansion of the practice.
The Civil War did result in the abolition of slavery, but Lincoln stated over and over that if he could save the union with slavery, he would do so. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave — because it was a declaration from the Union that all slaves in lands controlled by the Confederacy were free. This was a military strategy — encouraging a slave revolt — not a statement of principle.
Even though Texas had been independent before the Civil War, it was treated the same way as every other Confederate state after the Civil War. This suggests that, when Texas joined the union, it forfeited any right to withdraw from the Union.
While these precedents may be changed by a constitutional amendment giving states the right to secede, such an amendment would not gain the required support. As much as liberals may hate Texas and Texans may claim they want an independent country, America is better with Texas than without, and Texas is better with America than it would be without it.
The Texas Nationalist Movement might get secession on the ballot in 2018, but even then their chances of ultimate success are very slim.
As Reuters reported, bids to break away from the union have largely been unsuccessful, either due to huge legal challenges or a lack of adequate support. A 2014 Reuters/Ipsos poll showed only a quarter of Americans are open to their state leaving the union. In Texas, the number was higher — 36.1 percent. This seems high, but for a referendum like Brexit to succeed, that number would have to rise above 50 percent.
Also, we cannot discount the fact that many of those saying they support secession would likely change their minds in the case of an actual vote. Unlike #Brexit, this is not a nation reverting to its natural and historic standing, so “false positives” — people who say they would vote to secede when they actually wouldn’t — are much more likely.
Ultimately, #Texit, #Flexit, #Calexit, or any other trendy state secession hashtag is doomed to failure, until we have a Constitutional amendment, and until some national cataclysm makes secession really, truly desirable. In a world where Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, anything can happen, but it’s pretty stiff odds against another Confederacy any time soon.