Yesterday at one of those wonderful, grassroots Tea Parties, Texas Governor Rick Perry tiptoed up to calling for Texas to secede from the United States.
"Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.
"My hope is that America, and Washington in particular, pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?"
Not everyone in Texas agrees with the governor. Democratic state senator Rodney Ellis fired back today.
More after the jump. Updated with more responses from lawmaker
Edit, part 2: now with link
This will be a short diary, but here is what the Senator said.
"There are some issues that simply should not be legitimized in any way, shape or form, and secession is one of them," said Ellis. "By not rejecting out of hand the possibility of secession, Governor Perry is taking a step down a very dangerous and divisive path encouraged by the fringe of Texas politics.
"It was only 12 years ago that Texas had a deadly stand-off with those urging secession. Governor Bush stood up to those fringe elements. I urge Governor Perry to ramp down the rhetoric and state unequivocally -- as Governor Bush did in the 1990s -- that secession is not only not an option, it isn't going to be part of the political discussion.
The senator pointed out the dog whistle politics going on here among the right wing.
"In the last week, we've seen an extremely troubling escalation of rhetoric," said Ellis. "Talking about state's rights, the oppressive hand of the federal government and secession brings up some pretty bad memories in this state. It was not all that long ago that those were the exact words used by those who opposed desegregation and the civil rights movement. The top elected official in the second largest state with our history simply cannot be so loose with his comments. He's not a radio or cable TV talk show host.
Ellis also said what we're all thinking: why the hell are the Republicans talking about this now, three months into Obama's administration, but never during eight years of George Bush. Also, didn't Texas get a lot of hurricane relief from the federal government?
"The timing and focus of this talk doesn't make much sense," said Ellis. "Since 2001, the Texas budget has increased by 62 percent. The budget we are now working on includes $65 billion from the federal government. We didn’t hear about the oppressive hand of the federal government when we asked for hurricane and wildfire relief and, we didn't hear these complaints when we took money for transportation and education and health care. We didn't hear about it for eight years of exploding federal budget deficits, so why now?
"I understand that the governor has a difficult political race on his hands, but that is no excuse to whip up this type of frenzy among people who are already worried about keeping their job or a roof over their heads," said Ellis.
As a Texan, I'm glad someone stood up and called the goveror out for these remarks.
EDIT: Thanks for the recommended diary! House Democratic Leader Jim Dunnam has also called out the governor!
I love Texas.
I am fortunate that my great-grandparents moved to Texas over 100 years ago, and I am deeply proud of our state.
Every 2 years, my colleagues in the Legislature and I spend time away from our families trying to make Texas a better place. I am honored and privileged to do so.
However, I am also an American. And I am proud to be an American. There is even a song I like that says that – you probably know it.
Every Texas elected official takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I take oaths seriously, and that one most of all. And every day during the legislative session we pledge "allegiance" to the flag of the United States.
We even require every public school child to recite the pledge -- every day. That is "one nation, under God, indivisible."
Yesterday, our Governor had the opportunity to disavow anti-American rhetoric of secession. He chose not to, and instead he chose affirm those who believe and actually contemplate that our nation is divisible.
What do I say to my youngest daughter when she asks "why do I recite the pledge every day at school, if our Governor doesn't believe it?"
Hopefully Gov. Perry simply made a mistake; a mistake I call on him to correct by unequivocally declaring that our nation is one and indivisible, and that talk of secession from the union is thoughtless and reckless.
Perhaps he did not understand that words are important and that talk of secession carries heavy meaning.
Some hear this talk and associate it with racial division - an issue that caused over 600,000 Americans to lose their lives in a Civil War.
Others are incited by this kind of reckless rhetoric. I believe that the role of Texas Governor is to lead us to a better place, not stoke the fires of divisions.
Talk of secession is an attack on our country. It is the ultimate anti-American statement. Serious discussion that we would even contemplate dividing our country, the greatest country in the world, shows lack of judgment -- and any words from the Texas Governor will be taken seriously. Finally, such statements -- particularly in a time when we are at war overseas, with over 4,000 American lives lost, and thousands in combat as we speak -- are both offensive, irresponsible and not the words of a patriot.
I am surprised that Governor Perry would reinforce a sentiment that is so clearly anti-American. He should choose his words more carefully unless they are intentional, and if his words were intentional, they should be condemned.
You cannot lead a state that is part of a nation by trying to divide that state from that nation.
We live in a time when ill-thought words can stoke emotions. And today we have 100,000 Texans who have just lost their jobs, through no fault of their own. A time of economic recession and possible depression. We just came off a presidential election. In times like these, our leaders should strive toward unity, not pander to the divisive elements in our society.
Our Governor should be focusing on striving to lower homeowners insurance rates, lower college tuition, improve our public schools, provide better access to health care for working families and leading our state and our nation through this time of trouble. He should not be attending fringe political rallies; he should be offering and advancing solutions. There will be time for Rick Perry to run against Kay Bailey Hutchison after session is over. He should put the good of our state above his ambition to serve another term as Governor.