Can Texas Secede from The Union?

I decided to make this video after the fuss about the latest petition let Texas secede from The Union. While these stories do pop up every few years the petition is interesting because it asks people when they sign for their state of residence.

I asked on Twitter if anyone could scrape the data and one of my followers, Ben Buchwald, came through. After shoving the raw data into a spreadsheet, here are the results:

The giant blue wedge is people from Texas, the big green wedge is people who didn't want to give their location, and the 2% to 1% wedges are the rest of the states, Puerto Rico and, interestingly, a few American military personnel overseas.

However, a graph like this isn't really very informative. The interesting question is which states most want Texas to go. Sorting by number of signatures isn't helpful because then you just end up with a graph of population. So I've divided the number of signatures by population to yield a graph of per-capita support for Texas secession in the other 49 states:

This graph was the exact opposite of my expected results: I guessed that Democratic states, such as New York and California would top the list and Republican States would be at the bottom, but the graph shows the exact opposite.

It looks like support for Texas leaving the Union is highest among those who a Texas exit would hurt the most politically.


Can Texas Secede from the Union?

America's second most populated and second largest state is always first to remind you that it was once an independent nation: The Republic of Texas.

Unlike California's three-week, almost accidental flirt with independence (and a hideous flag) the Republic of Texas was a real country with its own presidents, and laws and currency for a decade from 1836 until 1846 when it joined the Union to become the 28th state, thankfully evening out the number of stars.

This happy marriage led pretty much immediately to the Mexican-American war over the question of over how big Texas was. America, as the victor, got to decide the answer: very big.

While Texas gave up its complete independence to join The Union, it didn't give up its independent streak -- and filed for divorce, along with several other states, a scant 15 years later. This domestic dispute was settled not with flowers but with force, something that many are still grumbly about today.

But History aside in modern times could Texas still be a real country? In other words: could Texas succeed if it secedes?

In terms of population, an independent Texas would be the world's 46th largest country with 26 million citizens. And, those citizens would make Texas the 13th largest economy. So the New Texas Republic would be comparable to Australia, except in the size department.

But what about the Federal money that goes to Texas? Those interstate highways don't build themselves, you know. For a majority of states, independence would be a financial problem. Mississippi, for example get two dollars from Washington for every one it sends in taxes so an independent Magnolia Republic would be bankrupt almost instantly.

But not Texas, which gives more money to the federal government in taxes than it gets back. There's no reason why independent Texas couldn't keep those highways paved and give its citizens a small happy-Texapendency-day Tax cut.

So from a financial perspective: The New Texas Republic gets a check.

Now the question is can Texas legally secede? And the answer is... no... not at all.

Despite popular belief, even by politicians who should know better, the Texas constitution does not include a get-out-of-The-Union-free clause no matter how much Texans, or citizens of other states, wish that it did.

However, the Texas Constitution does have a weird clause that allows it to divide itself into five states without the approval of congress. So Texas could, any moment, explode into the states perhaps named North Texas, South Texas, East Texas, West Texas and Austin -- which would quintuple its power in the Senate -- but not necessarily help it gain independence because there is no legal process for a state to exit The Union.

Though the constitution is mute on the issue, secession has come before the supreme court and, shockingly, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that States can't leave the United States.

But the legal question is, weirdly sort of moot. After all, the First Texas Republic didn't pop into existence out of nowhere -- Texas was originally a State of Mexico, which didn't allow Texas to leave, but leave Texas did anyway, though under less than harmonious circumstances.

While it's hard to imagine war between the New Texas Republic and the United States it isn't hard to imagine who would win that fight. Texas does have its own military, but seriously, nobody beats America in the war business.

So the only way Texas is leaving is if it can convince the United States to change its laws to let it leave. Which only as a chance of being discussed seriously if a majority of Texans want independence, which isn't remotely the case.

So while a New Texas Republic is interesting to think about -- particularly for some non-Texans, as of now it's a long way from becoming a reality.


Images by rutlo and photoshop help from Larom Lancaster.