Houston Matters

TEXIT: On the fringe or becoming more mainstream?

Why the Texas nationalist movement has grown and what lessons we can draw from history about it.

Clipping of newspaper from 1861
Public domain
The Dallas Herald announced Texas’ aims to secede from the Union on February 6, 1861.

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The first shots of the U.S. Civil War were fired on this date in 1861.

As we begin a year of potential political upheaval in a consequential presidential race, the country today is more divided than it's been in quite a while.

It's in such periods that otherwise fringe movements can gain some steam. One example: the "TEXIT" or Texas nationalist movement – those pursuing a way for Texas to "exit" the United States.

The Republican Party of Texas platform committee called for a referendum on the topic in 2022. Last year, (now former) state representative Bryan Slaton introduced such a bill, though it went nowhere. And just last month, the Texas Nationalist Movement claimed it had enough signatures on a petition to include a non-binding question on secession on the GOP March primary ballot; the Republican Party of Texas concluded that petition did not have enough valid signatures, so no, it will not be on the ballot. And yet: that the idea has even gotten this far signals that there's some interest in some corners of Texas about it.

In the audio above, we discuss the movement and conditions that may cause it to gain or lose interest, and what if any lessons to glean from history about it, with Steven Deyle, an associate professor of history at the University of Houston and Mark Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.