Sailermandering Texas: What to Do While We`re Waiting For Patriotic Immigration Reform
But while we`re waiting for the
moratorium, there`s a lot of stuff that can be done.
The genius of the
Fathers was that they recognized America contained
communities that needed a
rather than a unitary political system. Now, arguably, the
established states themselves contain differing communities
that should be given expression.
Typically, U.S. political
boundaries have been
by partisans, resulting in the notoriously absurd shapes
of many U.S. Congressional districts. The U.S. gave the
waiting world the term
after a constituency
resembling a salamander drawn up by Massachusetts
In a similar spirit, what I`m
proposing here is what Peter Brimelow insists I call a
aimed at preserving, not a political party, but the hegemony
of the historic American nation, otherwise likely to be
swamped by legal and illegal immigration.
My first proposed Sailermander:
With modern Texas providing
relatively effective government without high taxes or
land prices, the state has attracted a population (now
25 million) huge enough to justify being divided up into
five smaller states.
(Silver`s state names are all
wrong, of course. Texans would
never agree to any
names for new states that didn`t include the word
them—such as South Texas,
North Texas, East Texas, and Central Texas.)
Divvying up Texas may seem at
are prouder than Texans of the humongousness of their
state. But thinking through the implications of this
scenario is illuminating.
Splitting Texas is the kind of
change that would be more
Canadians than Americans. Although Americans like to
think of Canada as boring, America`s political institutions
have been much stodgier at the macro-level than Canada`s.
Canada`s national borders have been enlarged as recently as
Newfoundland, formerly a
dominion ruled from London, not
Ottawa, joined). The
French-speaking province of
within 53,000 votes of
seceding in 1995.
Moreover, Canadian parties are
far more volatile than
the American duopoly. In 1993, for example,
Conservative entered the general election holding a
majority of seats and exited with
just two. The Progressive Conservatives subsequently
went out of business, a fate that hasn`t befallen a
major party in U.S. since the
Whigs. (Even being on the
side in the Civil War didn`t do the
Democrats any long-term damage).
But, basically as a result of
mass immigration, it`s probable that Americans will
eventually find ourselves living through what the
would refer to as politically
interesting times. It`s worth starting to think about
long-range changes in the institutional landscape so that
they won`t catch us unawares.
No states have been added to
the Union in a half century. But the issue dominated
American politics in the 40 years preceding the Civil War.
And it`s likely to emerge again.
The Democrats have solid
reasons to promote
Washington D.C. and/or
Puerto Rico to
statehood whenever it looks like they can get away with
it. Each would provide them with two additional Democrats in
the U.S. Senate, along with five or six Democratic members
of the House of Representatives for Puerto Rico and one for
Washington D.C., with corresponding advantages for the
Democrats in the
Of course, the
last time Puerto
Rican statehood came up for a vote in the House, it was
pushed through to a 209-208 victory by a
Gingrich, motivated by the
Puerto Rican statehood would somehow attract Mexican
voters to the GOP!
Few events demonstrate the
cluelessness of the Republican elites about the political
implications of demographic change than this bizarre
incident. Wiser Republican heads allowed Gingrich`s Folly to
die quietly in the Senate.
Of course, the more intelligent
GOP plan for
Rico would be to prepare the
Spanish-speaking island nation for
independence—after more than a century of colonial
rule since we acquired it from the Spanish in 1898.
Newt`s misadventure illustrates
why statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. is likely
to come up again. It`s kind of like gay marriage—which,
31 straight times when put to the electorate, has been
equality“. What, are you against
equality? Likewise, statehood for D.C. and P.R. will
at some point be turned into racial equality issues—which
are hard to withstand under our age`s reigning mindset.
You`re against electoral
equality? What kind of racist are you?
Threatening to split Texas into
five states would be an effective Republican counter-gambit.
States have split before.
Famously, West Virginia was
carved out of Virginia during the
Civil War. But a more relevant example might be
Massachusetts splitting itself as part of the Missouri
Compromise of 1820. Its northern section became the free
Maine to balance off the
admission of Missouri as a slave state.
Depending upon how adroitly the
state borders are gerrymandered, splitting Texas could
create a net gain for Republicans in the Senate of two or
four Senators. Texas currently sends two Republicans to the
Senate. Five Texases would likely send seven or eight
Republicans to the Senate, for a net increase of two or
four—assuming most of the
are corralled into a new Hispanic-dominated state of
South Texas along the
Rio Grande. Creating a heavily Hispanic state in south
Texas would almost certainly add two Latinos to the
Senate—how could anybody be against that? Republicans would
be delighted to demonize Democrats who opposed splitting
Texas as racists who don`t want Hispanics to have their own
Almost all states cast their
Electoral College votes in a winner-take-all fashion. That
means a handful of big states play a crucial role in
determining the viability of a party in Presidential
elections. The GOP, for example, did well in Presidential
elections from 1952 through 1988 in sizable part because it
carried California nine out of ten times.
Since then, however,
immigration-driven demographic changes, and the
pusillanimous reaction of the California Republicans,
have converted California into the Electoral College
keystone of the Democrats. That leaves the GOP reliant upon
Texas, with its 34 electoral votes—probably increasing to
38 after the 2010 Census.
Republicans have done very well
in Texas recently, in part due to Texans named Bush being on
six of the last eight national tickets. In 2004, George W.
Bush cruised to victory with 61 percent in Texas. In 2008,
however, John McCain fell to 55.5 percent.
That was still a comfortable
margin. Yet, it raised the first hints of the GOP`s Specter
of Electoral College Doom: due to the increasing Hispanic
population in Texas (today,
30 percent of all residents of Texas speak Spanish at
home), Texas will someday flip Democratic, leaving any
Republican Presidential candidate in a huge hole to climb
out of in the Electoral College.
Texas`s Hispanics are a little
more Republican than the national average:
35 percent voted for McCain versus 31 percent of Latinos
across the country. Yet the gap between Latinos and whites
was larger in Texas (38
points) than in any other state in 2008, because McCain
carried 73 percent of Texas` white vote.
Splitting Texas would add eight
more votes to the Electoral College due to the creation of
eight more Senators. However, it probably wouldn`t increase
the GOP`s performance in the Electoral College, and might
even hurt it. Currently, the GOP consistently wins all 34 of
Texas`s Electoral Votes. If split into five states, the
Electoral Votes of at least one (and possibly two) of the
five Texases would go to the Democrats.
Nevertheless, from the point of
view of Republican performance in the Electoral College,
splitting Texas makes sense as a salvage operation when the
entire state is ready to flip Democratic in Presidential
elections. And that`s not far off.
Here is table of what Nate
Silver`s five states of Texas would look like:
a baseball statistician who started his political analysis
career at the liberal
Daily Kos, has gerrymandered his break-up of Texas to
make it less bad than it could be for Democrats. Silver
lumps most of the population into two large states in the
East. His hope is that the Democrats would win two of two
Senate seats in South Texas, one of two in Central Texas,
and one of four in North and East Texas, making them no
worse off than at present.
fairer division into more equal sized states, however, could
easily be gerrymandered by the Republican legislature into
something more promising for the GOP. Their goal would be to
group as many Democrats as possible into one state, just as
Republicans have used the
Voting Rights Act for years as justification to create
majority-minority Congressional districts in order to
maximize both the number of minority House members and the
number of mildly Republican-leaning districts.
On the other hand, Silver`s map
does show the limits of this kind of gerrymandering on a
scale larger than a House district.
There`s a fundamental problem
with trying to redraw political boundaries to group most of
the minority Democrats together: minority Democrats can`t
afford to live only around other minority Democrats, because
minority Democrats don`t create many jobs. Thus, minority
Democrats tend to live in the middle of white Republican
regions. This makes it hard to
gerrymander Texas Democrats into one contiguous state
with a shape that isn`t overtly contrived.
For example, the Dallas-Fort
Worth Metroplex might deserve to be called the heart of the
Republican electorate in the U.S. Yet, within the Metroplex,
Dallas County, the blue dot in the upper right of the map
(and ninth largest county in the country with 2.4 million
people), gave only
42 percent of its votes to McCain.
If you follow a rule that new
states have to be constructed out of existing counties and
must be contiguous (i.e., no separate free-floating pieces),
then it`s very difficult to link Dallas`s slums with any
other concentrations of Democrats. There are just too many
Hill-types between inner city Dallas and the
STWPLs of downtown Austin to make it worthwhile.
The highly Hispanic left bank
of the Rio Grande might seem like an exception to this rule.
But notice that this vast expanse of riparian land from El
Paso to Brownsville on the Gulf of Mexico is home to only
ten percent of Texas`s population. Mexican immigrants try to
not tarry in South Texas, because it`s so poor. The Lower
Rio Grande Valley in Texas is rather like the Upper Rio
Grande Valley in New Mexico, a state that has had a sizable
Hispanic population since 1609, but which doesn`t attract
many immigrants because of its lack of economic dynamism and
You have to look at it from a
Mexican`s point of view: Why go to all the trouble of
illegally immigrating to
Mexico to live near a whole bunch of
poor Hispanics when you could just stay home in Old
No, the reason illegal
swim the Rio Grande is to live within commuting distance
of job-creating white Americans. This means that Hispanic
populations tend to be dispersed into numerous urban areas
across the southern two-thirds of America. In turn,
redrawing large-scale political borders (such as state
boundaries) is not a really effective way for the GOP to
deal with its onrushing demographic problem, because
Republican white people are
magnets for illegal immigrants.
Of course, once too many
illegal immigrants` children show up in an urban school
district, the white people tend to up and move. But a lot of
minority parents don`t want to send their kids to those
schools, either, so they try to follow the whites to the `burbs,
which then turn into slums, too. Much of the
Housing Bubble / Crash that set off the Great Recession,
for example, was a result of minorities fleeing California`s
old barrios for new inland
exurbs, whose home prices deflated once they turned into
There`s no stable resting point
in this system. It leads to a constant churning of the
population across the landscape. (Needless to say,
real estate agents, and
brokers consider that a feature, not a bug.) Thus,
internal political boundaries that are redrawn to make
ethnic and partisan sense today generally won`t make sense
in another generation.
Changing political borders
within America is a reasonable and sometimes useful part of
the toolkit. It may prove to be very necessary.
But in the end, the place to
make a stand is on the
American border itself.