When Thomas Dunne published Don’t Mess with Travis in May — my comedic political novel about a freewheeling Texas governor who becomes fed up with a Constitution-stomping president and decides to secede — I knew I had landed on something relevant. I didn’t know it was this relevant.
As of writing, the Texas petition to peacefully “withdraw” from the United States via the White House’s open petition webpage is up to 62,481 signatures, on its way to tripling the required names needed to trigger a response from the Obama administration. No doubt Texas’s desire to break free is a source of amusement inside a White House that has mastered the art of belittling the opinions of its challengers, but there is one not-so-small problem here: Texas could pull it off.
–Resources. Texas currently sits on one-quarter of the nation’s oil reserves and one-third of the nation’s natural gas reserves. Even more, fully 95% of the country receives its oil and gas courtesy of pipelines that originate within Texas. This is what one might call leverage.
–The Texas Economy. This is well documented but worth repeating. In the last decade, even with the Great Recession, Texas has expanded by one million jobs. One million. That’s more than every other state … combined. Because of its friendly business climate, Texas is home to more Fortune 500 companies than anywhere else. If Texas were its own country, it would have the thirteenth-highest GDP in the world, just behind Canada and Russia. Or think about it this way: For every dollar Texas taxpayers send to Washington, they currently get only about 80 cents back. Theoretically, they could transfer those funds to the state’s coffers and still give every Texan a 20 percent tax cut.
–Utilities. Texas is the only state with its own power grid. Developed over the course of the last 100 years, the Texas grid covers the majority of the state and is fully state controlled. Translation: Texans could rest assured that the federal government doesn’t have the power — literally — to turn off their lights.
–Defense. While no match for Uncle Sam’s firepower, Texas does have a significant defense presence, namely in the Texas State Guard (which answers only to the governor), the Texas National Guard, the Air Guard and the legendary Texas Rangers. Texas is also home to two of the nation’s largest military bases — Fort Hood and Fort Bliss — and being able to control those two installations is nothing to sniff at. But let’s not forget the firepower of the citizenry itself. There’s a reason burglars don’t waste their time in Texas.
–History. Texas has done this before. Twice, actually. First in 1836, when it seceded from Mexico and became an independent country. Second in 1861, when it joined the Confederacy. And while the South did lose the Civil War, it didn’t lose it in Texas. In fact, by the end of 1864, the North didn’t have one square foot of Texas soil under its control despite many attempts. Even a full month after Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House, Texas was still fighting. Texans love their state and they love a fight. That is a lethal combination.