“We have to decide,” Daniel Miller told me, speaking Texan to Texan: “What is right for our people? Do Texans, at a fundamental level, want the right to be governed by themselves?” If Catalonians, Kurds, and Scotsmen deserve their own land, he said, Texans do too.
We were drinking coffee and openly discussing sedition in a bakery in Nederland, Texas, near the terminus of Route 287, which neatly bisects the country, starting in Montana prairie land and ending on the Gulf Coast. As I’d driven to meet him, I’d passed outposts of Whataburger—a fast-food chain so identified with Texas that its sale this year to a Chicago investment bank provoked a minor panic—and oil refineries, whose intricate nests of piping resembled a cube ship from the Borg civilization in Star Trek.
Texas itself is, in some ways, its own civilization. As a schoolboy, some 30 years ago, I learned about a woman in Texas who’d developed a 328-pound ovarian cyst, the largest ever recorded. When I told a classmate, he pumped his fist in the air—the record was ours. Texas pride, which encompasses everything from brisket to football to Willie Nelson to ovarian mega-cysts, is a funny thing.
Miller, a big man with a shaved head and a goatee, intends to yoke that pride to a visionary goal. He is the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement, which is devoted to ending Texas’s nearly 175-year experiment with membership in the United States of America. The group, which claims some 300,000 members, demands a referendum on secession and, after what Miller predicts will be an “inevitable” vote to leave, the declaration of an independent Republic of Texas.