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Some Discontented Texans Talk Secession

Greg Flakus

November 21, 2012

Americans in several states have filed petitions on the White House web site calling for their states to secede from the Union. The online petition that has garnered the most signatures comes from Texas and was posted three days after President Obama's re-election. But most Texans do not take the idea of secession seriously.

Texas barbecue is on the menu and secession from the Union is the topic at this restaurant near Houston.

The Texas Nationalist Movement is pushing the idea, though the group did not originate the petition for Texas to leave the U.S. Executive director Cary Wise says people here are worried about government debt.

"When the federal government can no longer sustain that debt, then that rolls back on the states, not just Texas, but all the states," Wise said.

Some here complain about a spendthrift, intrusive federal government.

But most Texans seem to dismiss the idea of secession.

"I don't think I would sign it," said one young man.

"Oh, please! No, that would be ridiculous!," said a woman

"I don't think we have the resources to completely rely on ourselves," another man said.

The petition calling for Texas' secession is among several from other states that appeared on the White House Web site after President Obama's re-election.

Most support appears to come from states that voted for his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, and, like Texas, seceded from the Union once before -- sparking the American Civil War.

Obama's re-election is not mentioned as a reason to secede.

But the Texas petition claims, among other things, that the federal government has overstepped its power. More than 115,000 signatures are on the petition.

Political Science professor Mark Jones, at Houston's Rice University, doubts that Texas will ever secede.

"This is just more theater, political theater, than reality. It is not a real secessionist movement. You don't have any serious political actor getting behind the movement to secede," Jones said.

Jones notes that the signatures on the petition represent a tiny fraction of the state's more than 25 million people.

"This petition was started as a lark (a joke) by a college student up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and many of the people signing it are not even Texans," Jones said.

That's because anyone can register on the White House web site and sign the petition.

At the the nationalists' barbecue lunch, about 20 people attended, but some like Gina, came mainly to listen.

"I don't really know that secession is really a possibility, that it really could happen, but if any place in the country could do it, I know that it could be done here," Gina said.

And while not everybody agrees, the Texas professor says signing is an easy way to vent frustration with official Washington.

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