Adding Stars to the Flag

Knowing Michael Lind, I am quite sure he was deadly serious in proposing at Salon yesterday that the larger states break themselves up into smaller pieces in order to outgun smaller states in the U.S. Senate. He’s right, of course, that it can be done because it has been done (most recently with West Virginia, to which the parent state of Virginia, then in military rebellion against the U.S., did not exactly consent). But it requires not only full authorization by the state so dismembered, but also action by Congress, which isn’t happening so long as the beneficiaries of small-state power have at least veto capability in either House or in the presidency.

But yeah, it’s fun to fantasize about it, as Lind does via his familiar allusion to the oppression of the virtuous Germans of Texas by the evil Scots-Irish:

A fifth-generation native of Central Texas who worked in the state legislature, I agree with Cactus Jack Garner that the State of Texas is too big and should be broken up. When the former republic of Texas was admitted to the Union, it should have been admitted as several states, not one. Another missed opportunity came during Reconstruction, when many of the freed slaves of East Texas, the German-Americans of Central Texas and the Mexican-Americans of South Texas lobbied Washington to divide Texas into several states to protect them from postwar repression by Anglo-Celtic Southerners. The failure to do so allowed the former Confederates of East Texas and their descendants to recapture power in Austin, the state capital, and lord it over minorities in Texas to this day.

An independent Central Texas could be a high-tech social democracy, with really good music and movies, once liberated forever from the Protestant fundamentalist Taliban of East Texas. Willie Nelson could compete with Kinky Friedman to be the first governor. To prevent rivalry between Austin and San Antonio, the new state capital of Centex should be located in a neutral place — say, Luckenbach, Texas.

It would be even more fun to inflate the U.S. Senate and cut the Dakotas and Wyoming down to size. But it ain’t happening any time soon.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.