The matter of whether Rick Perry has advocated secession arose on Fox News last night. He insisted that he has never used the s-word, except to refer to signs at tea party rallies that say “SECEDE.” As far as I know, he is right. Here is what Perry did say back on April 15, 2009, during a raucous aftermath of an Austin tea party rally, when a reporter shouted out: “Some have associated you with the idea of secession or sovereignty for your state.…” Perry replied, “Texas is a unique place. When we came in the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.” Not true, and it’s rather amazing that Perry made such an egregious historical error. He didn’t use the s-word, but what he did say was incorrect. Texas did not enter the union with the right “to be able to leave if we decided to do that.” It’s pretty much American History 101 that states don’t have the right to leave the Union. Hundreds of thousand of Americans gave their lives to preserve that principle. And, while he didn’t use the s-word, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between saying that Texas could leave the Union if it wanted to, or that it had the right to secede. Perry probably confused the fact that the treaty of annexation allowed Texas to divide into five states, with the idea that Texas could opt out of the Union. I don’t want to be picky, but … shouldn’t a candidate for the job Abe Lincoln once held know that states don’t have the right to secede? Or, if you prefer, “leave if it decides to do that.”
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