Secession supporters attending the Texas Republican Convention failed to get the party faithful to back a statewide vote on independence for the Lone Star State, but the nationalist leader sees the political struggles of the past several days as a major accomplishment.
“We were able to prove conclusively that this is not a fringe political discussion,” Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, told AMI Newswire Saturday. “It is in the mainstream.”
Speaking by phone from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, where Texas Republicans concluded their 2016 gathering over the weekend, Miller said the independence issue sparked excitement among sympathetic delegates, but party officials thwarted pro-independence efforts and played fast and loose with the convention rules.
“Our issue, and our issue alone, was the one that brought energy and excitement to this convention,” Miller said.
Though the part-time Texas legislature is not in session this year, Miller’s group intends to harness the momentum gained from the convention experience and file legislation in November calling for a vote on Texas secession. Under that scenario, the legislature would begin to review it in January 2017.
Secession backers had their share of ups and downs at the state convention, where throngs of enthusiasts of Sen. Ted Cruz adjusted to the idea of Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee for the presidency. On Wednesday, what was termed a temporary platform committee gave its support — by a two-thirds margin — to including a pro-secession-vote plank in the platform.
That plank would have read, “Because the federal government has failed to abide by the 10th Amendment and the rest of the United States Constitution, and continues to fail to protect Texans from unlawful immigration, Texas should hold a non-binding referendum asking the people of Texas to decide on whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.”
Texas was an independent republic after breaking away from Mexico in 1836. Less than a decade later, Texas was admitted as a state in the union.
Miller said that the convention next appointed a permanent platform committee on Thursday made up of many new members.
“There was some turnover between the temporary and permanent committees,” he said, adding that the permanent committee voted 16-to-14 to remove the independence plank.
“Ours was the only plank that they struck,” Miller said. “We were already prepared for a floor fight on the issue.”
On Friday, secession supporters took the issue to delegates on the convention floor and called for language to be inserted into a section of the platform dealing with state sovereignty. It stated that if Texas was unsuccessful in opposing federal legislation that impaired the state’s ability to govern itself, “then the people of Texas should vote to reassert Texas status as an independent nation pursuant to Article 1 Section 2 of the Texas Constitution.”
That language was rejected in a yeas-versus-nays vote, but Miller noted that the independence issue had the longest debate on the floor and drew strong support among delegates, some of whom walked out of the convention in the wake of the vote. He also said that party Chairman Tom Mechler had spent the past year trying to marginalize the issue.
“There is nothing about this that smacks of a defeat,” Miller said.
During the debate, some secession opponents mentioned the pride they felt in their service in the U.S. military and emphasized the need for conservatives to work to restore their principles within the federal government.
Although the independence plank wasn’t included in the state party’s platform, the document is chock-full of planks responding to perceived overreach by the federal government in the state’s affairs. The platform calls for abolishing the Internal Revenue Service as well as the Cabinet-level departments of Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Labor and Interior.
It also supports the repeal of the War Powers Act, the abolition of abortion and the reversal of Roe v. Wade, as well as ending Social Security and transitioning to a private system of pensions. In addition, delegates supported building a border wall and withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent call for an Article V convention was also included. Under that concept, Texas legislators would call for a convention of states to propose constitutional amendments designed to reduce the power of the federal government, including limiting federal lawmakers’ terms of office. Any amendments would need to be ratified by three-quarters of the states to take effect.
“The increasingly frequent departures from constitutional principles are destroying the rule-of-law foundation on which this country was built,” Abbott said in January in a prepared statement.
Miller sees independence as the ultimate solution to the laundry list of grievances the delegates have with the federal government, and he said a popular vote on the issue would be akin to the upcoming vote in Great Britain on pulling out of the European Union.
The advantages of secession include allowing the state to implement its own fiscal policies as well as its own policy on border security, while putting an end to an “insane immigration policy,” Miller said. The nationalist movement also wants to get the state out from under the expanding U.S. national debt.
“The best people to govern Texas are Texans,” he said.