Texas Independence and Texas Exceptionalism
"You may all go to Hell, I'm going to Texas." - Davy Crockett
Like many great Texans, I am a not a native of my adoptive state of Texas. I came here in my twenties for a better political and business climate. What I found was that it is not the politics of Texas that makes it great, but the optimism of the people.
Many people say that it is the Texas ego, but I believe it is just the natural outlook of Texans to believe that everything will be okay and that we can do better. That is the same mindset that used to be known as American exceptionalism, but magnify it and you find Texas exceptionalism.
We have a great economy in Texas partially because we expect to have a great economy in Texas and that leads us to act like it. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.
That ego lifts up Texas, but it may also hold it back. When you hold a perception of something you look for the facts that verify your beliefs. Like the parent that is asked about schools in general might give them a C or D rating, but if you ask about the school their child attends, then it is of course an A of B school. We tend to think more highly of our own circle regardless of reality.
We see this in gun laws in Texas. One of the great Texas myths is our amazing gun laws, but until a bill was passed this year, we were one of six states that had no open carry laws. Even with the new law, it is only licensed open carry whereas 30 states have unlicensed open carry and seven have constitutional carry. Texas also has the most expensive state carrying license in the country. But if you were to ask the average person in or out of Texas, they would praise Texas' gun freedom.
Bias blinders like that from the Texas ego seem to have also lead to the advancement of the Texas Nationalist Movement that desires Texas independence. The belief that Texas is in such great shape and handles things so much better leads some to think we'd be better off without the dead weight of the federal government.
Personally, I'm not sure whether that is accurate or not. Considering that we are second in the nation in local debt and we continue to pass massive bonds, I'm not so sure I buy it. Texans have just as much a state for debt as the rest of America. We also take 33% of our funding from the federal government and more than 1% of residents are federal employees.
That doesn't even go into businesses that would leave due to international costs to trade with the remaining United States.
This of course assumes a free and easy move toward independence without the taking up of arms, and since Texas doesn't have near the strength of the US armed forces, I don't see that going well.
Of course maybe I'm wrong and Texas would be better off seceding, but I'm certainly not ready to vote for it. Yet, I have to wonder why so many are ready for such a move.
I stated earlier that part of it is that Texas ego, but I think a bigger part of it is that people don't feel heard. As we all remember one of the greatest cries during the American War for Independence was “Taxation without Representation.” While we have voting now, our voice in congressional seats is so minuscule that people just feel small.
From my conversations, it also seems like they really just want to see representatives fight for them. They don't mind losing, but they view most members of congress as people that “go along to get along,” Which is true in many cases. The greatest way not to make people mad is to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. If you can fade into the back and not choose a side and then come home and say “I’d love to vote that way, but it's still in committee,” then you have decent shot of being re-elected over and over again.
Sadly, some folks are so tired of this they'll take anyone willing to fight even if they have a record of praising the people they are running against on the other side of the aisle.
At the recent State Republican Executive Committee (SREC), a ballot initiative was brought up on the question of secession. A ballot initiative in Texas is really just a survey question that appears on a primary ballot. It has no binding authority at all. The initiative made it out of the resolutions committee with seven out of ten supporting it, but failed to be placed on the ballot.
Many, many people are thrilled it failed to make it to the ballot. They claim it would be an embarrassment to allow Republicans to share their opinion on the matter and make the party look like a joke.
I partially agree with them as I believe it would take the air out of the real issues and debates that Texans face, but I also think that by not allowing that survey that it increases the perception of helplessness under the current system held by those in or leaning towards the Texas Nationalist Movement. By not allowing the question, they may well have bolstered the flames they are trying to squelch.
If Texas Republicans really want a united party, then the plan is pretty simple. Let the voters see you fight for the values of the party. Let them see you find an area and be their champion. Stand up to what Texans see as an overreaching federal government. Stand up for the Texas that already exists in their hearts and minds. That is how we'll continue to win, to make Texas great and make America great.