Commentary: Secession and the Texas tea party

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramDecember 3, 2012 

Three weeks into the newest Texas Revolution, it's going nowhere.

That online petition for secession lost steam after 100,000 signatures. Even the Weatherford guy who started it calls it a fad.

The state Republican Party chairman dismissed the idea on NPR last week, saying there is "zero chance" and he works in the "real world."

Even noted Republican Chuck Norris, who wrote in 2009 how "thousands of cell groups" would rise up in rebellion, meekly sent an endorsement for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott without anti-Washington saber-rattling.

Absolutely nobody takes the idea seriously.

Except the Tea Party.

One of the most powerful Tea Party groups in the state hosted a Confederate secessionist speaker Friday who calls for a new, Bible-based "Southern nation."

I didn't get to hear Mark Vogl, an author from the East Texas town of Big Sandy. But Rick Eisenbach, the secretary of Tyler-based Grassroots America --We the People, said by phone that when Vogl talked about leaving the Union, there was "quite a bit of applause."

"This is a very conservative group," Eisenbach said.

"He said when the federal government sends in tanks, we won't even have to fight back. Just stand our ground, and eventually they'll get tired and go home. They can't make the whole state obey."

Nice.

So much for Grassroots America.

The Tyler group is led by Jo Ann Fleming, who chairs the Texas Legislature's Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee and has been one of the most outspoken critics of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.

Fleming said by phone that she didn't hear Vogl and opposes the idea.

But Tyler is not the only town talking revolution.

In Whitney, the Hill County Tea Party published an essay openly calling for secession.

The headline: "Goodbye, America."

And Central Texas Tea Party founder Wes Riddle of Belton, a loser in a congressional runoff last summer, told a secession rally this month that the word "indivisible" in the U.S. and Texas pledges of allegiance is either "ignorant" or "fiction."

Secession isn't his "preference," Riddle said, but Texans should seek independence "inside or outside the Union."

The question is not whether Texas should leave America.

The question is whether the Tea Party has left the planet.

Reach Bud Kennedy by email at bud@star-telegram.com. Twitter: @budkennedy

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