Britain’s startling decision to exit the European Union (EU) has sparked the possibility of other countries leaving too. Since the decision, there has been talk about France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy making their exit as well. As the implications of Brexit unfold in Europe, the decision has also sparked the revival of secessionist movements in the United States, particularly in the Lone Star State.
Dubbed “Texit”, support for Texas’ secession exploded on social media in the wake of the Brexit decision. The use of the hashtag #Texit increased by nearly five times and saw almost 2,000 tweets between 7 and 8 a.m. London time, or after 1 a.m. in Dallas.
According to a 2014 Reuters/Ipsos poll, nearly a quarter of Americans are open to their states leaving the union. For Texas, the move toward secession is being powered by the Texas Nationalist Movement, which is formerly calling for the Texas government to support a vote similar to that of the British. The group believes the state would be better off as a sovereign nation.
Texas was an independent country from 1836 to 1845, after it seceded from Mexico. In her article “Opting Out”, financial expert Dawn J. Bennett notes that “as of 2014, if Texas were a sovereign nation, it would have had a GDP of nearly $1.7 trillion and been the 12th largest economy in the world, barely behind Canada and ahead of Australia and South Korea. Texas and Switzerland gross about the same from exports each year.”
Bennett explains that the secessionist movement is being fueled by many of the same issues and discontent that led to Brexit, such as “feelings of interference from the federal government, stagnant wages and weak labor markets, and a general dissatisfaction with the dismal political and economic landscapes we face.”
Despite Texas’ strong economy, Reuters reports constitutional scholars claim a U.S. state cannot secede. While there have been numerous secessionist movements throughout American history, no state has been created by seceding from another since 1863 when West Virginia was formed during the Civil War. And that involved seceding from another state, not from the union.
Will this time around be different? We have to wait and see.