Remember Eagle Pass! Texas Rallies the Red States

Remember Eagle Pass! Texas Rallies the Red States

Abbott spearheads a revival of federalism—and just in the nick of time.

What’s happening in Eagle Pass, Texas—the confrontation between Governor Greg Abbott and the Biden administration over border security—is an important legal question, speaking to the authority of the federal government vs. the right of a state to defend itself. It’s also an important political question, because border security, or lack thereof, will be a dominant issue this November. 

But perhaps most of all, it’s an important national question, as Americans wrestle with basics: Can the federal government be trusted to provide for the common defense? Are we still one people? Or is red-blue polarization so profound that we’d be better off, on both sides of the divide, seeking some new constitutional settlement? One that enables wall-builders to have their way, and the sanctuary city-ers to have their way? 

Am I being melodramatic? I don’t think so, but at minimum, I’m being consistent. Here at The American Conservative in 2005, I wrote a piece on uncontrolled immigration and associated chaos in France under the headline “National Suicide.” I observed that the troubles the French faced were anticipated in a novel published three decades earlier, Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints, which depicted a self-loathing liberalism so deep that the only solution was to destroy one’s homeland. And we all should be mindful of the apothegm from John O’Sullivan around the time that globalists nudged him out of National Review: “You can have open borders but you can’t have anything else.” That is, mass migration overwhelms everything, and the U.S. would be no exception. (O’Sullivan has since decamped to Hungary, a country that takes border security seriously indeed.)

In the meantime, headlines speak to the heated passions aroused in and by Eagle Pass. MarketWatch bannered the confrontation as a “skirmish,” while The New York Post, tabloid-y to its toes, blared that it was a “war.” (As of this writing, there’s been no actual violence.) 

For sure, the left sees the set-to in apocalyptic terms. “Eagle Pass is today’s Fort Sumter,” thundered an op-ed in the January 25 Philadelphia Inquirer. Will we have a civil war? I doubt it. As I argued here at TAC two years ago, the existence of 50 separate states makes it relatively easy to foresee an internal division that preserves the union, albeit in altered form. (An upcoming Hollywood movie, bluntly titled, Civil War, doesn’t change my mind; the studios have proven that they have no handle on contemporary politics.) 

Still, the sovereignty of the states must be jealously guarded. So it’s inspiring to see Texas defend itself from foreign invasion, even against the wishes of the Biden administration. Today, no American stands taller than the wheelchair-bound Greg Abbott. 

Moreover, it’s heartening to see so many other governors aligning with Abbott. Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma was terse and to the point: “Oklahoma stands with Texas.” Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia added, “Enough is enough. Our southern border is in crisis thanks to the Biden administration’s refusal to do their job”; Kemp added that Abbott and Texas “have our full support.” Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia declared, “The Biden administration has turned every state into a border state. We must stop the flow of fentanyl, save lives, and secure our southern border.” Then Idaho’s Brad Little: “The lawless southern border threatens the lives of all Americans, including Idahoans.” Now to Nebraska’s Jim Pillen: “I was proud to order Nebraska State Troopers and National Guard to the border last year, and Nebraska is proud to stand with Texas now.” Alabama chief executive Kay Ivey: “Texas and the states have stepped up time and time again. The White House? Purposely absent. I have had enough.” Doug Burgum of North Dakota said Abbott “deserves our thanks for taking action to stop illegal crossings and disrupt drug and human trafficking.” Iowa’s Kim Reynolds added, “When the federal government fails, states step in. Iowa sent the Iowa National Guard and State Troopers down to the border last year to stop this invasion.” Razorback Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “If President Biden won’t defend us, states will have to defend themselves. Arkansas stands with Texas.” 

Length limits prevent listing all the righteous governors, but a special note on Florida’s Ron DeSantis. His presidential campaign may have fizzled, but his gubernatorial activism showed us that a single state leader can pull the national debate rightward. So it was not surprising that he was cogent and eloquent as he threw his support to Abbott: “If the Constitution really made states powerless to defend themselves against an invasion, it wouldn’t have been ratified in the first place and Texas would have never joined the union when it did. TX is upholding the law while Biden is flouting it. FL will keep assisting Texas with personnel and assets.” 

In fact, in just a day, 25 of the 26 Republican governors had signed on with their Texas brother. All these state executives have thus inscribed their names on an honor roll of destiny. Now it would be melodramatic to compare these figures to William Travis, the heroic defender of the Alamo. Legend has it that back in the battle of 1836, he drew a line in the sand with his sword, bidding each Texian to step across and stand with him, knowing that martyrdom awaited. All but one man did. But hey, we understand that Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, the lone holdout among GOPers, flukily represents a state where Joe Biden got 66 percent of the vote. 

To be sure, nobody among the governors is at personal risk, but political risk could be a different story. Among the 50 U.S. senators representing those 25 states are eight Democrats. Who’s reading each state correctly? The GOP governor who supports Abbott, or the Democratic senator who supports Biden and his homeland security (sic) man Alejandro Mayorkas? Over the next few election years, we’ll find out.

Other important players, too, have rallied to Abbott and Texas, suggesting that the ripple is now a wave. Here’s House Speaker Mike Johnson: “I stand with Governor Abbott. The House will do everything in its power to back him up. The next step: holding Secretary Mayorkas accountable.” And then there’s Elon Musk, of indeterminate partisan ID, but undeniably a big kahuna for the right: “This administration is deliberately breaking the law by aiding and abetting illegal immigration at an unprecedented scale!” We can add that “TwiX,” in its shambling digital multitudes, is now the leader of right-wing opinion formation, having eclipsed the clunky cabler, Fox News. Oh, and Donald Trump, taking time away from his legal travails, has added his support to Abbott. For better or worse, Trump had a lot to do with the current Schmittian binary in American politics, yet we can now see that the red-blue chasm has earth-movers other than him. 

In fact, some purple is edging toward red. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. the independent candidate for president, tweeted, “Texas is right. Biden’s failure to secure the border leaves states no choice but to take matters into their own hands…A country without borders is not a country at all.” Kennedy is officially a Democrat, and so his move indicates which way he thinks the Zeitgeist is blowing. 

Historians will marvel at how President Biden got himself into this situation. He won six terms in the U.S. Senate by posing as “Middle Class Joe,” with MOR positions on everything. Yet somehow, late in life, he lost his deftness. Obviously some of the problem is his age, but also, there’s the deep state that vexes any president, and the even deeper abyss of Biden’s own appointees, below Mayorkas. 

In 2022, the AOC-adjacent activist Sean McElwee told Politico: “Do you know how many cryptocommunists are now working for the Biden administration? How many former Bernie Sanders staffers who are pretty f—ing deep in the White House’s policy nexus? The revolutionary socialist phase has kind of faded for the left. But the flip side of that is that a lot of those people have infiltrated to the highest levels of Democratic politics.” So there you have it: the fears of every Republican are being proven out. But here’s the thing: They are also the fears of every normie Democrat with a normal desire to win elections. 

Eventually, the inside story of Gramscian subversion will be told. Yet in the meantime, seeking to explain Bidenite behavior, we might reach for the explanatory tool provided by the eminent historian Robert Conquest. His “third law” instructs, “The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.” That’s a point that’s so searingly cynical that it takes a while to wrap one’s head around it. Yet what else could explain the administration’s devotion to a policy that even NPR admits is regarded by most Americans as allowing an “invasion”? And that Gallup says only 26 percent of Americans support? 

So here’s a prediction: If Texas holds firm, as state Attorney General Ken Paxton says it will, the Biden administration will shrink from an actual armed confrontation with molon labe–minded Texans. The Biden Justice Department will then move to long-term lawfare, and Lone Star will keep its barbed wire, and add some. Whereupon migrants and their international financiers will move on softer targets, i.e. the other three border states, all of which have Democratic governors. This situation will fester for a while, until the incumbent executives recall the fate of an earlier Democratic governor who was ambushed by migrants allowed by an earlier Democratic president. That Dem duo was then-governor Bill Clinton and then-president Jimmy Carter, both defeated for re-election in 1980. Fidel Castro’s Mariel exodus was a minor factor in Carter’s defeat, but a major factor in Clinton’s defeat, since so many of the Cuban criminals ended up in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas

So as the 2024 election draws nigh with migration running high, Democratic panic will set in, and Biden—by then perhaps without the services of Mayorkas the millstone—will do something dramatic about migration. An October surprise, or maybe a September surprise. Or, if the polls are really looking bad, an August surprise. 

For their part, border-minded patriots should seek to institutionalize what Abbott hath wrought. They need a Red Bloc for Border and National Security, complete with a homeland-sovereignty pledge that binds public officials and citizens in a Travisian commitment to the honorable defense of what’s ours. Admittedly, this bloc wouldn’t be that different from the Republican Party, and yet as a fresh ad hoc entity, it would have a stronger focus and fewer negatives. Not all Republicans would wish to join, but it would be easier for Democrats and others to join a group with no elephant emblems. 

And once this Red Bloc was established, it would be useful for member states to infill all the needed mechanisms for solidarity and common defense—er, cooperation. As I argued here last year, what a wonderful world it would be if Red could pursue its bliss of secure borders, low taxes, less wokeness, gasoline-powered cars, and a hard no on transgenderism. Thanks to Greg Abbott and his allies, we’re now well on our way. 

The post Remember Eagle Pass! Texas Rallies the Red States appeared first on The American Conservative.

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