Brexit, Texit, Indiana

In the wake of the British vote to exit the EU, several of Texas’ more “colorful” politicians have renewed their call for Texas to exit the United States.

In my snarkier moments, I’d love to see Texas leave; for one thing, the federal government sends more of our tax dollars back to the Lone Star State than its taxpayers remit to Uncle Sam, and the rest of the U.S. certainly doesn’t benefit from most of the state’s forays into public policy, or from the wisdom of the people it sends to Congress. (Just losing Louie Gohmert would make “Texit” worthwhile.)

In my more measured moments, however, I recognize that Brexit and the subsequent efforts not just of Texan separatists but of far-right movements elsewhere represent a reaction to—and rejection of—modernity. We see that rejection everywhere, from the Taliban and ISIS trying to “purify” the Muslim Middle East, to the French members of Marie Le Pen’s National Front, to homegrown nativists wanting to “Make America Great Again.”

Elections have become a choice between accepting modernity with all its maddening complexities and frantic and futile efforts to “return” to a time that never was. That is just as true of local contests as it is for national referenda; Hoosier voters will face that choice in November.

Governor Mike Pence hasn’t just strongly endorsed Donald Trump, disqualifying as that endorsement is; well before Trump became the GOP nominee, Pence was advocating measures to keep Indiana from engaging with the 21st Century. (There’s a reason for the Facebook meme advising Hoosiers to turn their clocks back to 1800.)

Just a few of the more obvious examples: RFRA was focused on turning back the clock to a time when “God fearing” Hoosiers could discriminate against LGBT citizens with impunity. Signing the demeaning and punitive anti-choice bill (the most drastic in the country) was part and parcel of the old-time belief that women are not competent to make our own decisions about reproduction. His refusal to accept Syrian refugees (until a court reminded him that immigration comes under federal jurisdiction) was entirely in keeping with a worldview that looks askance at immigration, diversity and globalization.

In all fairness, Pence had plenty of help from Indiana’s GOP super-majority.

It’s easy to understand why so many people find modern life threatening. Change is constant; technology is confounding. Foreign people with different cultures and ideas can make us uncomfortable and unsure of our most foundational beliefs. The economic ground beneath our feet keeps shifting.

As disorienting as modernity is, however, the choice is not between a discomfiting now and a mythical then. If we find going forward too demanding, too frightening—if we vote for people firmly planted in an imagined past—we will simply be throwing in the towel, refusing to meet the challenges of our time.

What we won’t be doing is reinstating a world that never was.

A lot of people—including a number who read this blog—are unhappy with the candidates proposing to lead us forward. I understand that. But the choices this November are pretty stark: we can inch forward with people who are less than perfect, or we can go backward with people who live in never-never land.


  1. I, for one, am all for the Texit. Let’s let the remaining 49 states move forward, and we can let Texas fend for themselves with their gun-totin’, bigoted, me-first, no-revenue government. It shouldn’t take long for it to become a failed state, and maybe Tea Party types would realize once and for all what the end result of their policies looks like.

  2. Not to mention – they would no longer be able to infect our government with dunces like Dumbya, Rick Perry, and Louie Gohmert.

  3. Ah Texas. What a state that one is. Hanging on to the wild wild west where Indians were the bad guys and Mexicans…well, forget the fact that they were there first. I told my spouse in no uncertain terms, if a position opens in Texas, just keep scrolling as I will never live there, not for a million bucks, no way, no how.

    If I have to explain Trump to another European, I think I’ll explode. And then I see that Pence is on the short list for V.P. now. They deserve each other. My friends cannot believe that he continues to make world news over here and how stupid Americans are for supporting someone that cannot even complete a full sentence properly. Even my spouse asked about his education level yesterday. I told him to Google it as I didn’t care enough to spend the time to find out. My hope is that the 13 million people that voted for him will be the only people that vote for him and the GOP will close up shop once and for all. Gaaaa

  4. I might be for Texit if one important caveat was agreed to. We won’t come to their defense when the inevitable invasion from Mexico occurs.

  5. Texit, Brexit, The Donald, Bernie, Cruz, Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party. They all have the commonality of so much disgust with the Establishment that they want to throw all the bums out, consequences be damned. The feeling is that economically it can’t get worse for the serfs (excuse me, we’re supposed to say “middle class”).

  6. I have read and understood comparisons between Brits sudden realization of what they have done by voting pro Brexit and the GOP realization of what they unleashed by allowing Trump’s takeover of their party. Texit makes a fitting third point on this triangle with it’s direct connection to Trump’s wall which would need to moved to the northern border between “them” and “us”. With Pence now on Trump’s short list for VP; it all works into Marv’s Jacksonville, Dallas, Indianapolis triangle of misalignments in current ruling local governments vs. modernity.

    Regarding the displeasure on both sides of the aisle concerning this current presidential election (speaking of misalignments!); we have all seen the many posts supporting allowing a third term for President Obama. Just yesterday I read a news item with Mitt Romney claiming his family would like to see him make another bid for the presidency. Another Obama vs. Romney is an election option I would support…but that option would move us back to the days before the presidential two-term limit became the law of the land. Some things from the “good old days” were “good old days”.

  7. Dear Sheila, you hit THE mail right on its head: it is a protest against our time, modernity, complexity. Based on fear. We should take the fear seriously and make efforts to find a better response than nostalgia to a past that never existed. It is the same fear that caused the Brexit here in Europe, where we must meet the same challenge as you in the US.

  8. There are times when I think the right thing to do would be for Texas and the Deep South states to go their own way, don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. I dislike having my tax dollars subsidize their idiocy. But then my husband points out that they would invade us, and we’d have a shooting war. Sigh. I do think you’re right, Sheila, this is about clinging to a fantasy past. But how do we help them accept it and move forward? I know how to help individuals, but not large groups of people, where the minute one person starts noticing their own ambivalence and possibly seeing a way forward, the others punish them.

  9. There are a few good people in Texas. Send a couple of vans down there and get them out before secession. And I must say: Voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.

  10. Sheila, your article brings to mind two sayings we often quote. People want solutions to complex problems that are clear, simple, and wrong. The other is: Everyone wants progress but nobody likes change. I’ll admit to wishin at times that life were not so complex.

  11. “A lot of people—including a number who read this blog—are unhappy with the candidates proposing to lead us forward. I understand that. But the choices this November are pretty stark: we can inch forward with people who are less than perfect, or we can go backward with people who live in never-never land.”

    Thank you Sheila for hitting the nail smack dab on its head in your last paragraph.

    While I am not a big Hillary Clinton fan, perhaps her being elected this fall and serving one term in office, hypothetically, would give everyone, particularly what is left of the rational part of the Republican Party, time to reconstitute that party or reprogram third and fourth party efforts in this country for 2020. In the meantime we have at least some semblance of a continuation of rational governance in this country.

    Obviously, this is purely speculative but this sort of thinking might be behind some of the comments that have been made by those long serving Republican stalwarts that have publicly said that they support per candidacy. Never-never land will not work for this country and electing those that live there will be an unmitigated disaster here in the good old U.S. of A. and ultimately the rest of the world. Simply put it cannot be allowed to happen.

  12. I would love to see a “Pence exit” via Trump. But I would prefer he exit via a loss in the election so the rest of the GOP in our beloved state would get the message that they need to change their ways. Pence represents the repressive policies that have kept Indiana solidly locked in the past, not only culturally, but economically – Indiana ranks 38th in the country in per capita income; and he has done more damage to public education than Mitch and Tony ever could have imagined.

    I’m for what ever it takes to get that joke of a public servant out of Indiana.

  13. Tom Lund; this country is currently living in a “purely speculative” era, nothing is what it seems to be, no one is who they were believed to be, the presumptive presidential nominees are not the choice of the popular vote on one side and not the choice of the party they represent on the other. What is left for us but to “speculate” what the future holds for any of us. Both sides believe the election of the opposition “cannot be allowed to happen.” Your choice of terms, like Sheila’s blog, hits the nail squarely on the head. Thanks for your always valued input.

  14. Sheila, I find your blog uniformly good, thoughtful, and always at the depth we should all be discussing the issues of the day. I find today’s entry above and beyond that allready high standard. Thank you for what you do!

  15. Aimee, I agree with your husband and would even go a step further: I think there may be another civil war soon in this country, with or without secession by the confederacy.

  16. Come on, folks! Texas will be fine as they return to the Lone Star Flag. They have leaders who can steal with unlimited creativity. They like the 5% controlling 95% of the wealth, and 5% willing to do anything to eat. Is that not a planned economy. 5% of Texans would still control the good looking women and Cuban cigars.

  17. What’s frightening about modernity? I think that the answer to that is simply progress. Progress in the direction progress always goes in, towards freedom and justice for all.

    Freedom and justice play no favorites and that’s a blow to all of those who feel entitled. Who remember being entitled in earlier times.

    Yesterday I wrote about how GOP Inc is now a business selling to other businesses get out of jail free cards vis a vis competition. Today it’s time to deal with the fact that the fear of competition infects us as individuals as well as it does the institutions into which we form.

    In fact GOP Inc not only offers to protect corporations and the wealthy elite from competition but all of the privileged classes in America. Whites. Males. Christians. Those heavily invested in killing machines. Those born on our soil. Heterosexuals.

    I say bring on all of those marginalized by the past. Diversify. I’ll bet we find some real jewels among them. I’ll bet we’ll learn a ton and they will too. I’ll bet if we do we’ll be way ahead of the learning curve for the future, way better prepared for it. Why? That is the future. A much smaller, much more crowded, much better connected, much more resource constrained, earth.

    I think that my kids and theirs and theirs will do fine. They’ll build what we built, a world adapted to reality. Solutions for what’s coming not what’s been. Of course they’ll have to compete but on the other hand they’ll be free.

  18. Yesterday AgingLGrl and I had a little sidebar on Switzerland. Ahhh Helvetica, the jewel of Europe.

    When I was a kid I felt sorry for them because they were language impoverished, no common language.

    But I dreamed of the Matterhorn.

    As an adult I took advantage of their strongest economy in the world.

    Why did they do so well? One reason is that they are virtually and naturally and easily multilingual. Three languages is ordinary and five or six not uncommon.

    In the competition for worldly they pulled way ahead.

  19. People once were very frightened of Automobiles. They wanted to stay with their horses. They got over it
    They were afraid of Electricity. They got over that too.
    When we see our Governor taking photos with that COVEN as they signed RFRA, it is clear that the Republicans live in a very strange universe.
    When we vote, It is NOT for the lesser of two evils
    We are voting for the better candidate.
    It should be very clear who that is this time.
    If not, get help.

  20. I’m lucky to deal mostly with students & parents who are embracing modernity. But in looking over their curricula, it’s clear that even at first-ranked high schools, education about the modern world has regressed from when I was in school in the ’80s.

    In the ongoing (mistaken) moral panic about the (nonexistent) crisis in teaching, social studies, history, and reading have been pushed to the side in favor of ‘useful’ skills, even while the public rhetoric talks about critical thinking, which is actively discouraged.

    In the absence of cultural literacy, anything that differs from the status quo will be seen as foreign, dangerous, and scary. Even knowledge of the basis of our own society would help, but parents don’t have an answer in most cases to difficult questions, and teachers have learned to steer far away from contentious topics for fear of their careers.

    Any solutions would take many years to bring changes. Canada says that once I get my nursing degree they’ll take me. Time to learn O Canada.

  21. OK. Remove all USA facilities, sell to the highest global bidder the entire federal owned infrastructures, military bases,Johnson space center, Federaly owned oil fields, highways, waste water, airports, sea ports, Federaly owned lands, parks and waters, remove all federal jobs, contracts, construction projects in process and close all VA and other medical facilities. Then build the new border fence around northern Texas and let them work out any land claim issues with Mexico. Texas independence would last about 2 hours and the stupid politicians might be voted out.

  22. Americans at least some of us proles have right to be frustrated and yes angry. Both Establishment Political Parties here in the USA have as their core principle subservience to the 1% and Multi-National Corporations. The economic landscape of America has drastically changed since I grew up inn the Boomer Generation. Technology, electronic, mechanical and industrial has entered into what we would have perceived to be in the 1950’s and 1960’s as science fiction. This is to be expected.

    The Multi-National Corporations and the 1% with their nearly absolute control of our electoral system have moved our once thriving industrial base off shore. Like water seeks it’s lowest level the Multi-Nationals and 1% seek the lowest level in human rights, and environmental protections from countries around the world.

    The refugee issue which is swamping Europe and the Middle East can be laid at the doorstep of US Militarism (NEO-CONs). Gulf War 2, the over throw of Qaddafi, and the intervention in Syria created the refugee problem.

    We Proles are expected to sit down and shut-up and do not question – Status-Quo is the way to go.

    Some people are having Secular End of World scenarios if Trump is elected. I do not like Trump by any means. The 1968 Election was even more tumultuous than 2016. We had roughly 500,000 troops in Vietnam, rioting in our major cities, huge anti-war demonstrations and the Soviet Union to contend with. The bright lights of the 1960’s had been extinguished by “Lone Gunmen” Malcolm X, JFK, MLK, and RFK were all killed.

  23. Perhaps the replacement of the Republican Party by GOP Inc was brought about by those who shut down the Party by attacking the confidence of the American people. We used to be known for our can do attitude. GOP Inc is based on can’t do. We can’t do anything right so our only hope is in withdrawing and keeping to ourselves. There’s no sense in investing for the future because we’ll just screw it up. I have to wear this stupid hat that advertises “Make America great again” which in reality plugs not being great today. We have to build walls and buy killing machines to be great by keeping the competition out.

    We will not be great or even competitive wearing that stupid hat and following the orange man beneath it. We have to believe in ourselves and our country and our Constitution and our government and most of all humanity. We built civilization. We’re that good. We can rebuild it well adapted to modernity.

  24. Donald Trump arouses such strong feelings that I do worry about his safety even though he is so objectionable. Bottom line, be careful what you wish for in his V. P. selection.

  25. For once I have to disagree at least partially with your article. I think the interview with Mark Blyth is a much stronger explanation for Tex-it, Trump and Sanders. The large segment of our population which as been gradually disenfranchised, neglected and systematically lied to by the elite has finally noticed and found voice. It is extremely unfortunate that they are split politically. The followers of both Trump and Sanders have, at center, the same plight. They would all be best served by Sanders if they were to come together and do the local change work.

    If Clinton wins, the disillusion on one part and fury on the other will probably be devastating. But there is hope that Sanders and others can lead a grass roots movement for the long slog to create a workable replacement for the current political situation.

    If Trump wins, ……………..

  26. I haven’t read the GOP Inc Handbook for Brainwashing yet but I would think that one tip that would be in there is the teaching of cynicism as a means of breaking down confidence. Now some might think that skepticism and cynicism are the same but for degree. But, at least in science, they are different concepts.

    Skepticism is reluctance to accept opinion in the absence of compelling evidence, data. Cynicism is disbelief regardless of evidence.

    Why would brain washers sell cynicism?

    I think two reasons. One is it discounts experts which is critical when your product is contrary to known science. The other is it makes the recipients feel smarter than experts which is critical to make them feel empowered. Once you have them eating out of that hand it’s easy to lead them anywhere. The brainwashed and the brainwashed become cohorts defending the same ignorance.

    It would be nice if the nefarious weren’t so diabolical buy if they weren’t we could disregard them.

  27. Government slowly taking control of exert facet of society is not a new concept and definitely has nothing to do with modernity, and has failed every time it is tried. Thomas Jefferson, father of the democrat party said, (or wrote), “That government governs best that governs least.” Amen!

  28. “Canada says that once I get my nursing degree they’ll take me. Time to learn O Canada.”

    Just curious..

    Should the U.S. require conditions for those wishing to immigrate to the U.S. such as those practiced in Canada?

    Are the Swiss considered nationalists?

    Frankly,neither candidate is in reality. The U.S. has suffered major defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spending millions upon millions in Libya and Syria. We are a country in denial of those facts. Denial is strong. It’s over. It’ was never about FreeDumb, but about about creating a new economy fed by Treasury dollars to private enterprise. So,the realistic conclusion proffered by brand loyalists is to reward those that developed,accepted,cheered,voted for and caused such a blunder to come to fruition. Perhaps we define reality differently?

  29. There is nothing wrong with the State of Texas; it’s just the political people who inhabit the place who seem to be a mixture of Cotton Mather and petroleum freaks, or Saudi lite. They are living or pretending to live in a separate time and space from most of us, and to the extent possible, their 19th century politics should be ignored. Texit? Nah, that would extend the costs of building the fence President Trump wants to build.

  30. “if we vote for people firmly planted in an imagined past”

    I believe Hillary said she would put Bill in charge of the economy. I guess the economy was great under Bill’s Presidency……Unless you happened to be on the receiving end of his bigoted welfare reform.

  31. Apparently is fashionable now to claim that an important qualification for the office of US President is to be likeable but over my 5 decades of voting President Obama was the first to be that in my book.

    Of course it’s a pretty loose term.

    Also it’s poly sci 101 to accuse your opposition of your worst traits so it fits the state of GOP Inc.

    I know of few if not any folks as dislikeable as Trump.

  32. There’s one problem: States have no right to secede, and I’m not willing to change that. Fortunately, there’s a way around that problem. As far as I know, the Supreme Court has never ruled against expulsion, and I think Texas would make a great test case. There would, however, be a few conditions:
    1. They have to take Ted Cruz, his wacko father, and Louie Gohmert with them. And they have to take back Jeff Skilling when he gets out of prison.
    2. We will build a wall along the entire border between Texas and New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Texas has to pay for it.
    3. Strict border control with visas issued to Texans only for very limited times and only for very good reasons. Maybe we’ll let the Spurs and the Rockets in for games with other NBA teams, but then back they go. Except for Willie Nelson and the Dixie Chicks. They get dual citizenship and can come and go as they please.

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