A Narrow Miss
Over the weekend, Texas Republicans thankfully tamped down an effort to talk about secession.
Over the weekend the State Republican Executive Committee came very close to completely disgracing the state, after seven of the twelve members of the Resolutions Committee voted in favor of putting the following proposal on the primary ballot next year:
If the federal government continues to disregard the Constitution and the sovereignty of the State of Texas, the State of Texas and its people should reassert its prior status as an independent nation.
The idea came from SREC member Tanya Robertson, who argued that it was a “harmless” way to encourage Texans to express their opinions on the subject and that it might help boost turnout among Republicans who would otherwise stay home during the March 1 primary.
The majority of SREC members disagreed. The proposal was defeated, on a voice vote, when it was brought before the 62 members of the full executive committee. The margin of defeat, however, is not known. According to the Austin American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove, “it appeared that less than a third of the committee backed putting the language on the ballot.” It couldn’t have been more than a third, since Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, told Tilove that twenty members of the SREC had committed to supporting the idea. But no one had time to count, and on a second voice vote, members of the executive committee declined to have a roll call.
In addition to being opposed to the proposal, in other words, a majority of SREC members were embarrassed by it, as well they should have been. Texas is part of the United States. Whether or not that was a settled issue prior to the Civil War, it is now. For the Republican Party of Texas to hold a formal referendum on such a historically and constitutionally ignorant question would have made the state a national laughingstock. It also would have been an inherently divisive and contentious exercise. “We appeal to you to disregard the rants of demagogues and secessionists,” wrote the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans’ Artemio Muniz and Art Martinez de Vara in an email to the SREC after the proposal emerged from the resolutions committee; the proposal, they continued, was “an avowal of contemplated treason, which it is the imperative duty of an indignant people sternly to rebuke and forever silence.”
Perhaps most derisible is that none of the SREC members who advocated for the resolution have had the dignity to defend it honestly. They’ve all insisted, with wide-eyed innocence, that they just wanted to ask the question. “The goal of these is to take a thermometer of how Texans feel about an issue,” Robertson said, “and what better issue for Texans to do that with?” Dwayne Stovall, who was among John Cornyn’s challengers in the Republican Senate primary last year and recently suspended his 2016 campaign for a seat in Congress, applauded her efforts in a Facebook post: “Good work, Tanya!” Shortly thereafter, in another Facebook post, he elaborated: “To be clear, I am neither for nor against secession.” The “thermometer” Robertson was looking for already exists. It’s called the First Amendment. And in this case it shows the number of Texans looking for a bone to pick with the establishment easily exceeds the number who actually want to secede.