Texas Nationalist Movement wants state to leave US

Shortly after Obama's re-election, the White House was forced to respond to a Texit petition that garnered more than 125,000 votes. The answer was no. Photo / iStock
Shortly after Obama's re-election, the White House was forced to respond to a Texit petition that garnered more than 125,000 votes. The answer was no. Photo / iStock

Over the past few months, the Brexit vote has inspired passionate global debate.

From politicians across the globe to high-profile celebrities and internet trolls, everybody has something to say about whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union.

But on the other side of the world, one surprising movement has expressed a strong interest in the Brexit vote.

This growing group is on a mission for independence, and says it's not going to stop until its right to that is recognised and enforced.

No, we're not talking about Britain, or anywhere else in Europe. Head straight across the Atlantic Ocean - until you reach southern America.

Is 'Texit the new 'Brexit'?
Welcome to the Texas Nationalist Movement. Its motto is "Texas First, Texas Forever", and its ultimate goal is self-government.

Basically, its members want to politically, culturally and economically separate themselves from the rest of America. Recently, they've even called the movement 'Texit', in honour of the EU referendum.

The group is building a support network, hoping to get enough numbers to eventually make this dream a reality. They claim to have more than 260,000 members, which would make it the largest single group pushing for the Texas independence. The state's population is about 27 million.

To put that into perspective, the movement's social media following, at just more than 208,000 Facebook followers, is actually more than Texas' Democratic and Republican parties' followings combined.

But it's not all just Texans who are backing the movement. Some Russians - including Vladimir Putin - have great support for the campaign, hoping it may lead to the breakup of the United States.

The group says it has collected and delivered thousands of petitions calling for the Texas Legislature to pass a bill giving a referendum, which requires federal approval to be launched.

So Texas is taking after Britain?
Not exactly. Historically, resenting the federal government is as Texan as white cowboy hats and rodeo shows.

While Brexit has thrust the concept of secession back into the global spotlight, Texas' attempts to leave the US union date back to the mid-1800s.

Quick history recap: Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, existing as an independent sovereign country before officially joining the US Union about a decade later.
In 2003, a state law was even enacted forcing students to pledge daily allegiance to the United States flag and Texas flag.

But some Texas nationalist groups claim the state never ceded its sovereignty when it joined the US, describing this as a big historical lie.

Speaking to news.com.au, Daniel Miller, the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, said its core aims are very similar to Brexit. He's even seen some of the same slogans popping up in the 'Leave' campaign, which the Texas National Movement has been using for more than a decade.

"Those similarities draw attention to the larger issue of self-government and, more specifically, to the TNM's efforts to make Texas independence a reality," he said.

Mr Miller says the core reason for the movement is a firm belief that the best people to govern Texas are the people of Texas, as opposed to the Washington-based federal government.

"At this moment, we don't enjoy that right," he said. "The vast majority of the laws, rules and regulations that affect the people of Texas are created by the political class or unelected bureaucrats in Washington."

He said Washington DC was making a lot of decisions on behalf of the state, without having their support in doing so.

He wouldn't actually specify what those rules and regulations were, saying the point was rather that Texans deserve "the opportunity and the resources" to have the freedom to solve problems.

In terms of government, they reject the notion of "right" and "left". Regardless of whether the Democratic or Republican Party wins the next election, he believes Washington has too much power over his state.

"I am 100 per cent certain of how it will affect us because it's already happening," he said. "Regardless of the outcome, the people of Texas recognise the situation for what it is and are coming to us in numbers like never before.

"Right now, no matter what the people of Texas decide, the federal government gets the final say.

"And, as it stands now, Texas sends between $300-$400 billion per year to Washington bureaucrats, of which Texas never sees between $150-$200 billion again. With the proper resources we could tackle all of the issues and challenges that we face according to our priorities and as the final arbiters of all political and economic matters.

"The federal government is already in nearly $20 trillion of debt not to mention the $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities that are on the horizon. Again, it's yet another reason for Texas to leave a union that has been unable to balance its chequebook for 60 years."

Earlier this week, Mr Miller told The Guardian he's tracking every step of the Brexit movement, hoping the recognition it has received will inspire discussion of a similar magnitude in Texas.

"There are a lot of people asking, if Brexit, why not Texit?" he said.
He believes the situation between the two is practically identical, saying one only needs to replace the "EU with the "US", "Brussels" with "Washington", and to throw in a Texan drawl.
When he spoke to news.com.au about the Brexit comparison, Mr Miller maintained the core arguments are very similar.

"The Brexit debate has had a similar effect to the Scottish referendum in 2014," he said. "The Brexit debate has been notable due to the similarities of the arguments on both sides to the arguments happening here over Texas independence. The core arguments are very similar.

"Even down to seeing some of the slogans that we've been using for over a decade being echoed in the 'Leave' campaign. Those similarities draw attention to the larger issue of self-government and, more specifically, to the TNM's efforts to make Texas independence a reality."

Can Texas really just leave the US?
Under the US constitution, no state can voluntarily leave the Union and go its own way without federal approval. That law has been in place for more than 145 years.
Over the past decade, tens of thousands of Texans have signed petitions asking that the state be separated from the country, to no avail.

But even though it's in the constitution, Mr Miller rejects the idea that Texas needs permission to leave the US union.

"This is a myth," he said. "Texas does not need permission from the federal government to conduct a referendum and exit the union. The United States Constitution is silent on the matter which, through the 10th Amendment, reserves that power to the people of Texas."

He says the fight now is about getting the people of Texas to vote on the issue, and rallying enough prior support to win the vote.

In 2009, Texas' then-Governor Rick Perry sparked controversy by addressing the idea of seceding. At a rally, he said: "If Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that."

His comments received considerable attention, but he later backtracked, claiming it was a humorous remark, rather than a literal call to action on secession.

Shortly after, Rasmussen Reports issued a poll, which found that one in three Texans believed they had the right to secede from the US. But only 18 per cent said they would actually vote in favour of that. There were 75 per cent opposed.

But Mr Miller remains optimistic that it's definitely going to happen. "No matter the outcome of the British referendum, or any other independence referendum for that matter, Texans in large numbers are seeing that it is indeed possible for large countries to have an adult conversation on self-government and have their voices heard."

He insists the same will happen in his state.

"It's not a matter of 'if', but a matter of 'when'."

- news.com.au

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