Seriously—Don’t Mess with Texas

August 1st, 2013

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder made a big production of announcing the Justice Department’s plan to join a lawsuit challenging Texas voting laws as an end around the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Shelby County v. Holder which ended preclearance requirements in many instances under the Voting Rights Act.

Holder proposes using a rarely implemented section of the Voting Rights Act in hopes of ultimately subjecting Texas to a decade of preclearance requirements.  Not surprisingly, the lawsuit Holder is joining is being brought by Texas Democrats with the end goal of helping the Democrat Party.  As Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott noted in an editorial opposing this action, Texas Republicans are making inroads with Hispanics in the state which is naturally not sitting well with Democrats who count on their support.

The fact that Holder is taking this action isn’t entirely surprising.  That he made such a big splash of his intention to sue Texas is rather disconcerting.

Texas is the largest state in the country solidly red. This year, Obama and Texas Democrats announced a big push to turn Texas blue.  They’re bringing in money and personnel to try to reach that goal.

The state is also doing rather well economically relative to the rest of the country.  As a Texas resident, I noticed immediately after the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession that things didn’t seem too out of the ordinary here in Texas.  By contrast, I’d visit other states with empty storefronts and people incredibly discouraged.

When Governor Rick Perry announced his candidacy for president on the platform of the “Texas economic miracle” he’d presided over, the press immediately got out its long knives and declared it all a farce.  They also noticeably took swipes at Texas claiming that the state’s residents had large egos with little to really support their inflated claims.  Here in Texas, we call an individual with such attributes someone with “all hat and no cattle.”

As a good Texan, I completely disagree with this characterization. In the interest of maintaining a growing audience on this blog outside the state, I will not go so far as to claim these comments reflect nothing more than interstate jealousy.

That aside, I think it’s important to note that whoever is right, Texas does have something other states don’t and it’s the reason I believe the Obama administration (which doesn’t seem to know much about history and its potential impact on events) should tread carefully when making a big splash about going after the Lone Star State.

As most people know (perhaps even General Holder), Texas was once the Republic of Texas.  We entered the United States, not as a territory, but as our own country.  There remains to this day a rather sizeable number of people in this state who believe returning to the Republic of Texas days would be just fine with them.  And they aren’t hiding that fact.  If you drive through Texas and see the word “Secede” across a truck bumper, you should know that the driver behind the wheel would be just fine if you foreigners from say, Oklahoma, needed to show a passport to get in here.

The movement isn’t huge, but it isn’t small either.  In fact, on the first day of the Legislature this past January, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst met with representatives of one of the leading advocacy groups for secession and discussed the constitutional (that would be the Texas Constitution) basis for seceding.

Whenever I read about Texans’ seceding, I’m a little disheartened by comments of our fellow U.S. citizens.  Words like “good riddance” and “better off without them” are frequently written.

The problem with all of this is that as a country we’ve been fortunate in recent years to be very united.  We may be politically at odds in a big way, but the idea of splitting up hasn’t been seriously bantered about.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t or couldn’t happen (e.g., the Civil War).  Other countries aren’t so lucky.  Remember the U.S.S.R.?  When I was growing up, that’s who we feared most.  That country split up dramatically. On a smaller scale, many other countries currently deal with separatist movements and they aren’t pleasant affairs for anyone.

I want to make clear I’m not suggesting such a thing is about to happen in Texas nor am I advocating it.  I’m simply noting that making a big production of constantly going after Texas could someday potentially backfire in a big way.

Given that, I’d highly encourage the Obama administration to perhaps turn its attention elsewhere and to start treading lightly where Texas is concerned.