EL PASO, Texas - The re-election of President Barack Obama was, as one member of the Texas Nationalist Movement described it, the candles being lit on a birthday cake. The TNM already wanted Texas to become a sovereign nation, but were prompted to move forward and push harder to secede once it became clear that Obama would become a two-term president.
"The original colonies seceded from England, so, it's been in our history," explained David Roberts, a member of the Texas Nationalist Movement, in a phone interview from Houston. "It's very much in the American spirit to dissent and if you want freedom, pursue it."
The TNM gathered on the steps of the state capital two weeks ago at the start of the legislative session for a rally. Afterward, about 100 members visited their legislators and asked for their support in putting a referendum on the ballot so Texans could vote on whether to secede.
Roughly 125,000 people signed an online petition at the White House's "We The People" website, calling for the Texas to withdraw from the union. The Houston Chronicle reported last week that many of the signatures were not from state residents, meaning less than 0.05 percent of Texas' population signed the petition.
The president rejected the petition, saying while debate over the state of our Union is healthy, it should not be used to "tear us apart."
"Our internal and external polling that we do shows that over 60% of Texans would vote to become independent," said Roberts.
University of Texas-El Paso Political Science professor Gregory Rocha disagrees with those numbers.
"I'm sure they're a pretty loud and vocal group and they surely have very strong beliefs about this. But I also think at the same time, they're a pretty small group," Rocha concluded.
Even if the secession movement gained traction, Rocha said the creation of a new, independent government is "daunting."
"Consider things like the creation of a currency, or the establishment of a system of foreign policy and foreign relations, of embassies," Rocha said, adding border security and manning of the fence along the international boundary with Mexico would come under Texas' control as well. "I'm sure the overwhelming majority of people who live in this state want to remain part of the United States."
Roberts admitted that the group has not flushed out the logistics of what it would take to set up a government independent of the U.S., saying, "We don't have all the answers. Again, our focus is to get this to a statewide referendum."
But without the blessing from both President Obama and Gov. Rick Perry, who released a statement in November denouncing the movement, it's dubious the movement would even get to that point.