Ted Cruz Doesn’t Think Texas Should Secede—Yet

The former U.S. presidential candidate is “not ready to give up on America yet.”
November 9, 2021, 6:19pm
Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)​
Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is “not ready to give up on America yet,” but he might support a Texas secession eventually if the party elected to run the federal government were to “fundamentally destroy the country” by enacting progressive proposals.

The Republican former presidential candidate made the comments on October 16 at Texas A&M, during a live show for his “Verdict” podcast with conservative commentator Michael Knowles. The audience cheered when one member asked the co-hosts about how the federal government would respond to a “what-if scenario” in which Texas seceded from the United States.

Advertisement

“I understand the sentiment behind the question,” Cruz responded. “I’m not there yet.” He went on to say that Texas is an “amazing force keeping America from going off the cliff,” and that the state “has a responsibility to the country, and I’m not ready to give up on America.” 

But Cruz went on to outline a scenario where he might support Texas breaking away from the U.S. and becoming its own nation, equating ending the filibuster and making the Senate a majority body with “fundamentally” destroying America and wrongly equating proposals to protect voting rights with an expansion of “voter fraud.”

“If the Democrats end the filibuster, if they fundamentally destroy the country, if they pack the Supreme Court, if they make D.C. a state, if they federalize elections and massively expand voter fraud, there may come a point where it’s hopeless,” he said. “We’re not there yet.” 

“And if there comes a point where it’s hopeless, then I think we take NASA, we take the military, we take the oil,” he added, to raucous applause from the audience. Later, he jokingly suggested that podcaster and Austin transplant Joe Rogan might eventually be the “president of Texas.” 

The question isn’t purely hypothetical. Texas declared its independence from Mexico and became an independent republic in the 1830s, existing that way for nearly a decade before  being annexed by the United States in 1845. Sixteen years later, Texas joined other southern states in attempting to break away and form the Confederate States of America, an effort that culminated in the Civil War, and, with the South’s defeat, the end of slavery in the reunified United States. 

Though the topic has come up in recent years—former Gov. Rick Perry was recorded saying at an April 2009 rally that Texans are “thinking about it again”—secession has once again gained steam during the first year of the Biden administration. Texas Republicans signed onto a bill earlier this year that would put the question of Texas independence to a referendum, and the website of the secessionist Texas Nationalist Movement’s website claims support from more than 400,000 people. The group’s president is also seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, and Texas gubernatorial candidate Allen West—a former congressman and Texas GOP chair—has also suggested Texas could break away from the U.S.

But Cruz is one of the most high-profile Republicans to lend credence to the theory, especially considering that Cruz himself ran for president of the United States in 2016 and finished as the runner-up to Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. And in July, Cruz was asked if he’d run for president again, and said “sure, I’m certainly looking at it.”

“I’ll tell you, 2016 was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” Cruz said then of a campaign in which Trump insulted his wife and humiliated his family, for president of a country he may not want Texas to be part of forever. “We came incredibly close, we had an incredible grassroots army.”

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.