When Texas’ pill-addled Republican governor Rick Perry took affront to the Obama administration’s Stimulus Bill in the spring of 2009, he started jabbering about the state’s supposed right to secede, prompting celebrated statistician (even then!) Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com to consider just what a separate Texas might look like. Now as Texas bucks the national trend of Democratic victories in the 2012 elections, there is once again ample internet chatter of secession as white people mourn for Romney* across America.
Seems like a good time to revisit Silver’s 2009 analysis. First, much to the chagrin of Republic of Texas true believers, he points out that there is no provision in the Texas Constitution that gives it the right to secede, but as part of the conditions of its annexation to the Union in 1845, it sort of has the option to divide itself into up to five new states. This is a game-changing revelation for those of us out here in the Big Bend region of Far West Texas.
By the terms of Silver’s theoretical exercise, the portion of Texas that falls under The Aerostat’s jurisdiction — the borderlands between El Paso and Laredo — would comprise a state that he christens “El Norte,” due to the region’s close relationship — culturally, geographically and financially — with Mexico. “It would be impossible to define El Norte by anything other than through reference to its Hispanic culture and its proximity to Mexico, as about 85 percent of its residents have Hispanic ancestry,” he writes. “El Norte would also be the poorest state in the Union, with one-third of its residents living below the poverty line.
“Electorally speaking, El Norte wouldn’t be highly competitive,” he continues. “Democrats would win Presidential and Congressional elections going away, until and unless the GOP found some better way to reach out to Latino voters. It might, however, become a focal point for Republican angst about immigration, bilingualism, the welfare state, and other issues.”
Most of this holds true in 2012. As Jay Root writes in the Texas Tribune:
Democratic victories across the nation left Republican voters and activists with the political version of a hangover last week. In the alternate universe known as Texas, they are blaming the Champagne.
Republicans here are celebrating another statewide sweep. They held onto huge majorities in the Legislature and the Texas congressional delegation. And at a time of increasing angst about their ability to thrive as the Hispanic population grows, the Texas Republican Party has fielded the first Hispanic U.S. senator from Texas — Ted Cruz.
“Thank God for Texas,” Chris Turner, a Republican consultant, said in a post-election speech to Republican activists in a conservative suburb of Austin. He said, joking, that the state might consider using stimulus money “to build a moat around our northern border.”
Not true for El Norte though! Obama took our home county, Presidio, with 70.4% of the vote. Meanwhile “Democrats won in all area state legislative races Tuesday night by wide margins, with two incumbents re-elected,” reports The Big Bend Sentinel, which goes a long way to explain to non-Texans about why The Aerostat chose its base out here on the Marfa Plateau. The biggest win came in the contest of Texas congressional district 23. Again from The Sentinel:
In what was one of the most contentious, aggressive, and hard-fought races in the United States, Democrat Pete P. Gallego on Tuesday defeated freshman Republican Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco in the race for congressional district 23.
“As a kid who grew up in a small town of 6,000 people, having the opportunity to represent 700,000 people in Congress is truly unbelievable,” Gallego, an Alpine native, said in a statement Tuesday night.
And with that, The Aerostat officially endorses this lesser form of “secession” as outlined in the Texas Constitution. We agree that the Big Bend of Far West Texas is by far the best Texas, and we are ready to start formalizing alliances with our brothers and sisters in the similarly freedom-minded enclaves of New Mexico, where, according to the Las-Cruces Sun-News, “what might have been a history-making election for Republicans in New Mexico turned into one they would like to forget.”
In closing, we’re going to break with tradition and refer our readers to some surprisingly refreshing cable news commentary:
Climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing… And nobody is taking away anyone`s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually.
And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.
One more time: Nobody is coming to take away our guns. Now let’s talk about getting them to stop coming to take away our ethnobotanical gardens and marriage licenses, right?
We’ll take the best of Texas and leave anybody who wants to remain “stuck in a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived truth of the world” with the rest of Texas.
*Please contact these folks if you find any evidence of non-white people doing the same.