The Wheel Turns

February 22, 2020 (Saturday)A lot of folks have been asking me lately if America has ever been in such a crisis before…

Posted by Heather Cox Richardson on Sunday, February 23, 2020
Facebook – Heather Cox Richardson

One of the comments under that article puts forward the fantasy that the South would try to secede again. It’s a quaint idea, that the South would be dumb enough to secede from the Union en masse exactly like it did in 1860, setting the United States on a path of self-destruction that would see it reborn like a phoenix out of the ashes of what went before. That Southerners as a group still see themselves as preserving their peculiar institution, something they share in common that would cause them to think they had the numbers on their side to win the day and persevere in the face of the revulsion of the rest of the country.

They had grounds to think that in 1860. The world clamored for their cotton and tobacco and sugar. Commodities that required huge, cheap labor forces to plant, maintain and harvest. Slavery made that possible, and they saw themselves as irreplaceable and that England or France would support them in their war against the Union.

However, in today’s United States, nothing like slavery exists to unite Southern oligarchs into a force that might think they could win a war against the rest of the country, and the rest of the country still has the world’s greatest military machine on its side to put down any insurrections that might emerge in these troubled times. The bad outcome is more certain now than it was in 1860. Anyone with a lick of sense knows this and so won’t be rattling the sabers of succession this time around.

Don’t get me wrong, those people do exist. I’ve had fellow Texans propose this idea to me, many times. It’s a common enough joke, save your Confederate money boys, the South will rise again! Those people are the same people who think that Texas can divide itself into five states (it can’t. Or rather, it already has) They are stuck mentally in a time and place that probably never existed. It is a reinvention by our grandfather’s generation (as the history lesson I started this article touches on) a myth that has outlived its usefulness and is now more of an embarrassment than any kind of real movement.

The same brother-in-law that inspired me to write,

RAnt(hony)-ings

The same brother-in-law that voiced those veiled racist statements summoned the ghost of the Confederacy the last time we spoke,

You know there is another civil war coming.

I know nothing of the kind. The South won’t leave. They aren’t that stupid and they weren’t that stupid in 1860, either. But the South not leaving is not the same as the US continuing. Yes there is hope, as Heather Cox Richardson explains in her Facebook article. We can overcome. That doesn’t mean we will overcome. How many people thought that the USSR would cease to exist, before it did cease to exist? As long as there are people living in Texas, there will always be a Texas. Ditto for the other coastal states, because coastline yields ocean trade and trade is the lifeblood human social existence. But the US as a political entity can and will end if we don’t act to preserve it.

Make no mistake. The majority of Trump voters wanted to bring this country down when they voted for Trump in 2016. The wanted an end to the status quo, the status quo of the wealthy dictating policy at the expense of workers and the poor. The status quo embodied in the person of Hillary Clinton. Right or wrong they saw their votes as ending that status quo.

How do I know this? Because I was one of them until 2008. In 2005 I qualified for disability and was gifted with the ability to continue existing as a side effect. It took three more years for me to come to grips with my own short-sightedness. But I swore that I would never vote to bring down the system again after casting my last vote as a libertarian in 2008. In 2012 I defiantly voted for Barack Obama while all my libertarian friends were shouting about how bad he was. I ate a big bowl of crow and I went on with my life, understanding that the United States government isn’t just a system. It is people living their lives, and they have the right to continue living their lives.

When Hillary Clinton pulled out a win in 2016 I put on a brave face and voted for her anyway, knowing that Texas would never go for her. But I wouldn’t vote against her. I knew what Trump was. Right or wrong, Hillary Clinton was the only way forward.

Enough people were angry, and enough people wanted to tear down the system at any cost. Their numbers were just enough in three key states to swing the election into Trump’s hands, and the rest is the history that we’ve lived through over the last three years.

This is how I know that my kind Uncle Joe will not be the president we need for the future. Don’t get me wrong, I will vote for him if he is the Democratic nominee. I know how the US political system works. Joe Biden is the past. The loveable part of our past, but the past all the same. He is the status quo come back to promise us hope and change again if we just vote for him.

The angry people will dismiss him as a presidential candidate because of this. They won’t willingly embrace the legacy of the Democratic party and all the baggage that comes with it. They may just stay home, or they may hold their noses and vote for him like I did for Hillary Clinton in 2016, knowing what kind of president that Trump is already.

Most of them will not vote for Trump again. The tide is turning and you can feel it in the air if you stop and listen to the wind. But that doesn’t mean he loses, and that doesn’t mean the United States continues to exist. Without the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Americans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, the United States would have died in the years between 1860 and 1865. In much the same fashion, but hopefully with a lot less blood spilled, the United States can and will cease to exist if we don’t give our full measure in her defense today, tomorrow and every day between now and the November elections.

Make no mistake, we are in crisis. We are beset with enemies both inside and outside of the country, all of them focused on keeping us from exercising our birthright. Our birthright? Creating a government of, for and by the people of the United States of America. Creating a government of the people for probably the first time in our lives here in the US. What will that government look like, and will there be a government at all? We are the only ones that can determine that, if our interests are to be served.

Texas Trying to Secede. Again.

Hanging around the fringes of Texas politics as I have off and on over the last 20 years, you hear a lot of strange ideas. Texas is conspiracy fantasy central in many ways, and Austin being the capitol of Texas means that the conspiratorial currents all lead to the vortex located at 15th and Congress.

Since the clean sweep that the GOP experienced in 2014, the wackos have come out of the woodwork and aren’t embarrassed to let their freak flag fly. Over the last year we’ve had the whole Jade Helm 15 teapot tempest, the newly elected governor calling out the Texas Guard to defend Texas against the largest military on the face of the planet. Governor Abbott calling out the underfunded and understaffed Texas Guard to face down the unquestionable might of the US military. Facing down a US military that maintains troops in superior numbers to the Texas guard, just at the bases inside Texas (not to mention Texas citizens in the service of the US Army) troops that are included in the Jade Helm training exercises. We’ve seen the governor’s replacement in the office of Attorney General arrested and booked while embroiled in a scheme to deny marriage certificates to gay couples who wanted to get married in the wake of the SCOTUS decision.

Texans are also suffering due to continued resistance to the ACA by our sitting legislature and governor.  The ACA may be the law of the land according to the federal government, but the overwhelming majority of Texans spit at it as Obamacare, while at the same time whole segments of the Texas population who can’t afford to buy health insurance are left without any healthcare options because they make too much money to get Medicaid under the old rules, but are still supposed to have health insurance or face penalties.

Since all of this is Obama’s fault, it should be no wonder that a perennial favorite of the Texas conspiratorial fantasists is making the rounds again. Yes dear readers, we are faced with the dreaded initiative to secede from the Union. Again.

As I said previously, those of us who’ve been paying attention are not surprised to learn that the beast has raised its ugly head again. The history of the Texas secession movement is both long and checkered. I’m not going to go through all of it (the wiki page does a decent enough job of it) but it bears mentioning that many shady people for many long years have declared not only that Texas should secede, but that it probably isn’t legally a state of the Union.

Help, help we’re being repressed!

Texas not being a state would be news to the rest of the United States, since Texas manages to pretty much have its way with all sorts of things that affect other parts of the country. Make no mistake, the rest of the US knows that Texas is a state, much as many of them might rather it wasn’t.

The problem is, most Texans can’t be bothered to read;  and those that do read really can’t make heads or tails out of the Texas Constitution.  Or maybe it isn’t a problem with reading.  Maybe it’s a problem with who writes the books, especially the text books. In any case, these factors have lead to a number of interesting fantasies considering the nature of Texas’ relationship to the rest of the nation, as well as its status as a state.

Most Texans have heard the 5 states story, I’m sure.  The theory that Texas could be split up into 5 different states? The first time I heard it, the provision was in the Texas Constitution; which would be quite a feat I quickly discovered.  Upon the briefest of searches I learned that Texas has had seven constitutions since she left Mexico. So it isn’t in the Texas Constitution, not that we can tell among the nearly 500 amendments that have been passed (second only to Alabama. Saved again, Texas) The provision was actually imposed by the US Congress (those imperialists!) in their legislation which annexed Texas into the Union.

This is the tidbit that most people have probably never realized. Texas has already been split into 5 states. There are pieces of Texas in Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming; and while this may not have been the intention of the drafters of the legislation, Texas was paid for the severance of these lands, and they are no longer part of the state. So, yes. Texas could be subdivided, and those crazy plans to have Texas dominate the Senate by breaking itself into 5 or 6 more states that would somehow still vote in lockstep are all too late.  The deed has already been done.

The southwestern tip of Kansas was claimed by Texas. Dodge City was in Texas. Glad to know that. “Gunsmoke” always seemed like a Texas series. We know that Marshal Matt Dillon was born in San Antonio. His father was a Texas Ranger. It’s all coming together.

KUT, W.F. Strong, Sure, Texas Is Big – But It Used to Be Even Bigger

Another one of these fantasies is that Texas has permission to secede from the union.  This feature would be a truly curious development considering that all the slave states reacquired by the union after the civil war were required to renounce any intention to leave the union again as a condition for readmittance as states, as well as adopt the 13th and 14th Amendments. Most scholars agree that there is no basis to assume that a State could secede from the Union; it would be hard to see how this would be possible outside of the failure of the United States as a political entity and a military power.  These facts didn’t stop former Governor Rick Perry from voicing his opinion that Texas could secede at a rally full of supporters chanting for secession.  This wouldn’t be the first time that Rick Perry was in error, especially when it comes to the subject of law.  I wouldn’t put too much stock in his remembering facts about secession, or evolution, or whatever that third thing was (have you figured that out yet, Mr Perry? It’s the branch of the administration that you currently lead – editor)

…in hindsight Rick Perry’s governorship feels like a walk at the wildflower center compared to the level of crazy currently ensconced in the capitol building. Between Governor Abbott’s blatant hypocrisy as a disabled person who was uniquely situated to keep other disabled person’s from taking his road to Wellville, his trumped-up war on Planned Parenthood, his initiative to remove local control from Texas cities, and the legislature’s rejection of a minimum wage hike, it’s hard to imagine how life could get more grim than it currently is for the average Texan.  Which goes a long way towards explaining the desperation present in movements to secede as a political entity from the United States. Again.

A side word here for my fellow Texans.  Ya’ll might want to go back and read my piece on Greece in Perspective (hint, it really isn’t about Greece) and ponder at the level of desperation that you feel today and just who really is to blame for that.  Is it at all possible that that blame currently resides in a white house a good bit closer to you than Washington D.C.?

As an illustration of just how well history rhymes, here are the words of Governor Sam Houston as he was forced out of  office by confederate zealots in 1861.

Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas….I protest….against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.

Texans have once again been lied to and betrayed; not by Washington, but by the leadership of the conservative religious power base that dominates all of Texas politics.  They are lied to nightly by the talking heads at FOX news, in the hopes that we will blame each other rather than the leadership in this state that has brought us to this impasse. From the moment that conservatives declared that science was a matter of opinion, that critical thinking was something to be avoided,  their entire ideology became a house of cards which could be blown down by the slightest breeze.

Imagine Sam Houston’s outrage at the knowledge that in a park that bears his name, in the city that bears his name, stands a monument to the folly that he gave up the leadership of Texas for rather than embark upon.  What would he think of the even more foolish notion that Texas could or should leave the union again?

I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her.

Sam Houston