The prospect of Hillary Clinton winning the 2016 presidential election is so threatening to some Texans that many believe her victory would justify Texas seceding from the U.S.
As reported in the Star-Telegram (“Poll finds Trump leading by 6 in Texas,” Aug.17), one national poll shows that more than half of Texas Republicans believe that Texas should secede from the U.S. if Clinton wins.
What are the actual prospects of an independent Republic of Texas becoming a reality?
In the first place, the constitutionality of Texas, or any state, unilaterally leaving the union was decided almost 150 years ago in the case of Texas v. White, in which the Supreme Court ruled state ordinances of secession to be “absolutely null.”
“When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation,” the court said. “All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State.”
But setting that aside, what might be some of the advantages and disadvantages that Texas would realize by secession?
With a population of 26 million, making it approximately the 50th largest country in the world, the Republic of Texas would immediately become an economic powerhouse .
Its economy would rival that of South Korea or the Netherlands, and its gross national product would place it on par with such countries as Spain and Mexico.
Perhaps even more attractive to many secessionists would be a Texas unleashed from what they view as the yoke of all those pesky federal rules and regulations such as those in the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.
An independent Texas would be free of intrusive court decisions such as the 2016 cases of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, striking down portions of Texas restrictive abortion laws, and Veasey v. Abbott, striking down provisions of Texas’ voter ID law.
Beyond this, though, are the real fiscal and economic consequences of independence.
Today, federal aid represents approximately one-third of Texas’ state budget, making Texas the 24th most dependent state on federal funding.
Texas uses its federal funds to support Medicaid payments, highway construction, food stamps, the school lunch program, various educational projects, child welfare programs and the like.
Additionally, private firms in Texas regularly receive close to $40 billion per year in federal contracts, more than all other states except Virginia and California, significantly boosting the economy in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
If that’s not enough to conquer the secessionist urge, think about football.
Texans who love football will never stand for secession.
After all, if not part of America, how could the Dallas Cowboys claim the title of “America’s Team?”
And, as the Republic of Texas, we’d be separated from the national sports conferences such as the Big 12 and the SEC.
No more Heisman trophies would come our way, and the massive inflow of revenues from playing football on the national stage would go elsewhere.
Texas will not secede, even if Hillary Clinton is elected president.
If legal, economic and political forces are not strong enough, football, the undeclared religion of Texas, ensures that Texas’ place in the union remains secure.
Richard L. Cole is a professor in the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington.