May 14, 2009
A funny thing happened on my way to Texas late last week: I heard that an astonishing 30% of Texans want to secede from the Union (and more than 50% of those that are registered Republicans) and that Governor Rick Perry was encouraging this tomfoolery by sympathising with the rebels. I learned this by reading the New Yorker I bought during my layover in Charlotte, while I was en route from London to Austin (the Texas state capital). Having thus already cleared customs and immigration once when I landed in North Carolina, it was theoretically possible that I would have had to show a passport again to enter the sovereign state of Texas.
When the heck did this happen? I live in a little Euro bubble, where everyone is ecstatic that Obama is the president, and is pursuing climate change and economic stimulus at the expense of the heath of the Federal budget. But I can attest, based solely on the two gentleman sitting next to me on the plane from London to Charlotte and then from Charlotte to Austin, that not all Americans are equally pleased. They are throwing “tea” parties: “taxed enough already”, they are talking about secession, they are worried about hyper-inflation (huh?) and think that Obama is “killing the innovation that makes America work.” I tried to rationally talk these people down (mentioning my credentials at LSE helped somewhat – thankfully they didn’t know that the place was founded by a bunch of socialists), but they were convinced that Obama was running the country into ruin and that secession was a good alternative.
Never again will I just scan the domestic news reported in the New York Times. My parents might end up living in another country while I’m not looking – and a petro-state at that.