Independence is not a single act embodied in a referendum. Independence is a state of being. The referendum is the first step in the process, an expression of political will that kicks off the process of becoming independent. It is, however, an important step. Such an expression of political will must be respected. It demands action. However, that action must be balanced with care and caution as Texas enters the next phase―negotiation and transition.
There should be one single aim for relations with the United States in the immediate aftermath of Texit―minimizing disruption. While those opposed to Texit would love to think that disruption cannot be avoided or even mitigated as Texas leaves the Union, they are dead wrong. In fact, the tools necessary to effect a speedy, efficient, and minimally disruptive Texit are already at our disposal. Before discussing what specific measures could or should be taken after a referendum, it’s important to take stock of these tools and examine how 195 independent, self-governing nation-states already operate, especially regarding one another.
Modern, self-governing, Western-style nation-states typically use four mechanisms to conduct the business of state. Fundamental issues of governance are addressed in a constitution that, if it’s already in existence and contains a method to do so, can be changed through amendments. In the case of Texas, the existing State constitution is already in the form of a republic with a form that is virtually identical to that of an independent nation-state.
Nations, at least those that are republics, have legislative bodies that makes laws under the authorization of the aforementioned constitution. The executive branch of the government can execute administrative actions that affect the operations of its various departments and agencies and set the rules for how the laws are executed. The final set of tools in the arsenal are international agreements that come in either the form of bilateral agreements between two countries or standing multilateral agreements to which more than two countries have signed on.
These tools of statecraft are important to understanding the mechanisms that can be used to transition from being a member State of the United States to an independent nation-state. However, one other component is helpful in understanding how a transition will play out. There is a major shift in the mindset that follows a referendum outcome in favor of Texit. From the moment the vote is certified, Texas and the United States become, for all intents and purposes, foreign to one another. Texans must begin to view the United States and its government no differently than any other foreign government or supranational entity. Negotiating with the federal government becomes like negotiating with Mexico or the United Nations.
There are highly probable scenarios where the outcome of Texas leaving the Union is smooth with virtually no disruption. After all, it is in the best interests of both Texas and the United States to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum while respecting the decision of Texans to govern themselves. Using existing legal mechanisms, federal policies and international norms and institutions that currently govern the relationship between the United States and other countries point to a smooth transition.