For years and years, Texas has tried to lure tourists from the rest of the United States by proclaiming itself to be a “whole other country.” Now it seems that Texas actually wants to be a whole other country: More than 25,000 residents of the state have signed a petition to the White House asking that it be allowed to peaceably secede from the United States and create its own government.
Me? I say let ‘em go. Because by leaving, Texas would automatically make the rest of the United States a much, much nicer place to live. Here are ten reasons why:
• Our worst presidents have been from Texas: George W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson both came from Texas, and they both embroiled the nation in dumb wars that killed a whole lot of innocent people, polarized the country, and did nothing to preserve American safety or freedom. Yes, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act—but on the other hand, without Texas, there wouldn’t have been quite as big a need for it.
• Our worst corporations are based in Texas: LBJ was bankrolled by a bunch of Texas millionaires who wanted him looking out for their interests; many were associated with Kellogg Brown & Root, an engineering firm. Until a few years ago, KBR was a subsidiary of Texas-based Haliburton, the oil services company that made Dick Cheney rich, and which seemed to have its hand in every pot in Iraq. And let’s not even get started with the actual oil companies there.
• Goodbye college football: You may think Penn State or Michigan State have a monopoly on Saturday afternoons in the fall, but the pretty much the entire college sports entertainment complex rises and falls on the decisions made in Texas. Texas schools drove much of the conference realignment we saw the last few years; they’re the reason that plenty of other institutions have forgotten about their educational mission and focused on the arms race to build better teams and bigger stadiums. Good riddance.
• The rest of our kids will be smarter: True story: Texas has outsized power in deciding which textbooks students in the rest of the country see. Because the market is so large, Texas has used that power to promote conservative themes in history textbooks, de-emphasize evolution in science textbooks, and generally dumb things down.
• They really do live the Ayn Rand gospel of rugged individualism: Which is why Texas ranks first in percentage of uninsured children, fourtth in percentage of children living in poverty, first in percentage of population uninsured, first in percentage of non-elderly uninsured, 49th in percent of low Income population covered by Medicaid, 48th in percent of population with employer-based healthcare, 49th in per capita spending on Medicaid, and fourth in percent living below the poverty level. Oh, and Texas is almost always first in executions. Lovely state.
• But corporations there aren’t required to be quite so responsible for themselves: Which is why Texas ranks first in 1st in carbon dioxide emissions, volatile organic compounds released into the air, amount of toxic chemicals released into the water, amount of recognized cancer causing carcinogens released into the air, and amount of hazardous waste generated. And Texas keeps trying to export this philosophy to the rest of us!
• Gov. Rick Perry’s family hunting camp: Until he tried running for president, nobody seemed to think this was a problem.
• The Dallas Cowboys. Amirite, Philadelphia?
• Cockiness: Texas contains less than 10 percent of the national population, but roughly 25 percent of America’s cockiness. And 75 percent of its big, ugly cowboy hats. We’ll be healthier if we slightly deflate the national supply of ego.
• It’s too goddamn big: 895 miles from one end of the state to the other. It’s exhausting to drive. And there’s so little so see in most of it!
The state’s not all bad. Austin’s a great place to visit and hang out. NASA is based in Houston. So that’s cool. What’s more, the state’s probably not going to strike out on its own: Too many of its citizens really do like being Americans, even under an Obama Administration. But if they get up to leave, nobody should strain themselves too hard to stop them. The rest of us would surely find some way to get along without Texas.