Note: If you had not heard, a petition to the White House exists that asks for the federal government to peacefully allow Texas to secede from the Union. Well over 100,000 individuals have added their names. There aren't many words for such an extraordinarily embarrassing endeavor, but State Representative Garnet Coleman came up with some. Below is a note from this Wednesday…
Monday was Veteran's Day, a day which should have been spent honoring those who served our country. For many people, however, it was instead a day to join thousands of other Texans in signing a deeply disturbing petition for Texas to secede from the United States of America.
The online petition, which currently has around 60,000 signatures and counting, is unfortunately not surprising. Ever since the election of this country's first black President, there has been a surge of rhetoric that had mostly lied dormant since the civil war and subsequent Jim Crow era. After the election of President Obama, however, Governor Perry, whose hunting ranch was named “Niggerhead” until just recently, openly hinted at succession, and we spent much of last session talking about things like “states' rights,” including a “Committee on State Sovereignty” and a House Resolution incorrectly asserting the state's “rights under the Tenth Amendment.” This kind of rhetoric needs to end.
Unfortunately, we don't have to wonder what an independent Texas would look like; we already know. The Republican majority has made it their priority to underfund public and higher education, make it as hard as possible for certain populations to make their voices heard at the polls, and strip away healthcare benefits from needy families. In many cases, the only reason this state's safety net programs are not more draconian are federal mandates preventing lawmakers from defunding programs even further. To illustrate, when Texan lawmakers say they want more “flexibility” in Medicaid, what they are really saying is that they want the flexibility to push more people off. An independent Texas would allow these lawmakers the freedom to defund education and healthcare as much as they'd like.
Their pyrrhic victory, however, would be short-lived. Our state's demographics are such that the predominantly white Republican political majority will soon give way to a diverse and progressive one. The ultimate irony of their neo-confederate rhetoric is that they would be creating a nation comprised mostly of people of color. This diverse new nation – with an economy roughly equal to that of all the Scandinavian countries combined – would not long tolerate the kind of hateful speech that we are now seeing.
The United States is the greatest nation on earth because we work together; let's not move backwards. I would like to believe that Texas is better than what we are seeing. This divisive rhetoric may be part of the state's unfortunate past, but it doesn't have to be our future. It's offensive and completely contrary to what this country is all about: one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.
Garnet Coleman is a State Representative from Houston who was first elected over 20 years ago in 1991. He has served as chair the Texas Legislative Study Group and is on the Board of Directors of the Progressive States Network.