Has a new wave of centrifugal politics begun? Are citizens in the over-reaching, debt-saddled bureaucracies of the European Union and the United States of America coming to life?
Among those outside the United Kingdom interested in that country’s decision to leave the European Union are members of the Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM).
The motives for a “Brexit” and a “Texit” are similar. At issue is sovereignty: should un-elected bureaucrats and lobbyists in Brussels and Washington DC dictate the lifestyles and livelihoods of individuals in the UK and Texas?
- Read More: Understanding Brexit: Europe Caused It, British Politics Made It Inevitable
- Read More: What Comes after Brexit? Not the End of the United Kingdom
For many British voters, the freedom of movement across Europe, as per the Schengen Agreement, along with the EU’s efforts to increase immigration from places like Turkey and Syria raise concerns about fiscal costs, cultural dissolution, and terrorism.
Likewise, since the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, reams of regulations have subjected citizens to the radical idealism and corrupt mercantilism of special interests and corporations which use the EU to enact social and economic policies in their favor.
A similar phenomenon, also decades in the making, has created tension between Texas and the federal government in Washington DC. Local attempts to curb the public funding of abortions, to eliminate race-based college admissions policies, and to police the border with Mexico have been stymied by the Supreme Court, the White House, and Congress.
And the fourth branch of the federal government –that giant squid of agencies that control agricultural products, access to fresh water, housing developments, and the recovery and refinement of fossil fuels– is also at odds with major sectors of the Texan economy.
More than any other state, Texas represents cultural uniqueness, self-reliance, and limited government
Then there is the healthcare mandate which, like other welfare programs, is designed to promote dependency on governmental largesse and thus undercut the conservative tendencies of Texas politics while favoring the radical Democratic Party in federal elections.
Leftist statists despise the hallmarks of modern US culture: sports, cars, business, guns, and religion, for example. These things empower individual freedom and lessen reliance on government fiascos like national dietary guidelines, public transportation, the post office, federal law enforcement, and academic indoctrination. Leftists also despise Texas.
This was not always the case. Texas gave the U.S. one of its most imperial presidents, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Barrack Hussein Obama, loved big government’s alphabet soup of regulatory agencies.
Still, more than any other state, Texas represents cultural uniqueness, self-reliance, and limited government. Texans think of themselves as different in everything from cuisine to music to dress.
Texans look down their noses at the machine politics of neighboring Louisiana and the nanny-state tyranny of rival California; the Texas legislature meets only in odd-numbered years and caps sessions at 140 days; and the Texas Sunset Act of 1977 requires that state agencies be reviewed every 12 years to determine if they should be continued or abolished.
To the degree that Texas can be repressed, American citizens will have fewer social alternatives.
The centralized bureaucracy of men like Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama attacks the “Laboratory of the States” tradition laid out in the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution. It erodes the principle of competitive governance, whereby citizens vote with their feet regarding the legislative system that best suits their needs. That’s bad for freedom everywhere.
The response to the federal leviathan has been ineffective. But there are encouraging signs.
The Convention of States movement, which seeks to invoke Article Five of the US Constitution in order to propose amendments to limit the federal government, is gaining steam. Texas plays a leading role in this movement.
Similarly, TNM seeks “the complete, total and unencumbered political, cultural and economic independence of Texas.” A recent Rasmussen poll found that 48% of Texas Republicans support independence. That’s only half of the majority political party.
Whether a Convention of the States or TNM can succeed remains to be seen. We have a long way to go before Washington DC shows any sign of relinquishing power.
From a libertarian perspective, nationalist movements must be regarded with ambivalence. Eric Hoffer, the great writer and philosopher, observed that, like fanatical religions and socio-economic revolutions, nationalism can cause traumatic and destructive change.
Nativism and racism are nationalism’s dangerous co-phenomena. But in the current environment, the centrifugal nature of movements like Brexit and Texit are grounds for more humanity, not less. History shows that local government is more efficient and more responsive to its constituents.
Brexit has already changed the debate for the better: George Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, has argued for a corporate tax rate reduction — from 20 percent to 15 percent and eventually lower — to increase the country’s economic competitiveness. Some EU officials have also noted that Brexit is a wakeup call for Brussels to roll back its regulatory overreach.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne floats a 15% business tax to prop up the UK's post-Brexit economy https://t.co/luSsBexA4k
— Bloomberg (@business) July 3, 2016
I’m a fan of The Seasteading Institute, which works to enable independent, floating cities or “seasteading communities,” as well as Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis that the frontier is the true key to unleashing the power of liberty.
Constitutions offer restraints on tyranny, but government power only ever grows. Advocates for freedom must remain vigilant and flexible, open to regenerative politics, prepared to move in new directions or to go to new places and start over.
Containing a mere nine sections, the Constitution of the Republic of Texas was the supreme law from 1836 to 1845. If denuded of its antebellum racist content, which prohibited “Indians” and “Africans” from becoming citizens, it would provide an excellent framework from which to reestablish the Lockean vision of limited government upon which the United States of America was founded.
If TNM were to succeed, one might then imagine a free-trade confederation with countries like Guatemala, Panama, and Colombia.
A Middle American version of the Hanseatic League of Baltic maritime states would be a major advance for liberty and a blow to centralized, anti-free-trade bureaucracies in places like Washington DC, Brussels, and Mexico City.
Call me Quixotic, but nobody imagined Brexit a few months ago. Perhaps, to borrow the radical rhetoric sweeping the U.S. and Spain, we can begin to hope for change.