When Frank Eathorne, Wyoming’s Republican Party chairman, mentioned “secession” during a conversation on Steve Bannon’s podcast, it set off a flurry of tweets and ribbing at the Cowboy State’s expense over the weekend.
On Friday, Eathorne went on Bannon’s podcast, “War Room Pandemic,” which Youtube banned a few weeks ago, to talk about Wyoming GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s vote in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump.
The conversation veered into talk of secession.
“We are straight-talking, focused on the global scene, but we’re also focused at home. Many Western states have the ability to be self-reliant, and we’re keeping eyes on Texas, too, and their consideration of possible secession,” Eathorne said, according to the Casper Star Tribune.
The chairman of Wyoming's GOP is floating the idea of secession.— Steve Hofstetter (@SteveHofstetter) January 19, 2021
WY is #39 in fiscal stability, #42 in economy, #49 in exports. Only 38% college educated. And that's now, with 35% of its budget provided by the federal government.
Go ahead, Wyoming. No one is stopping you.
Many wondered about the fiscal wisdom of such a move, pointing out that Wyoming receives a good share of its revenue from the federal government. According to a 2020 Pew report, the federal government provides 42.1% of Wyoming’s annual funding — the state’s greatest source.
So, the chair of the Wyoming Republican Party says he’s had “brief conversation” with the Texas Republican Party about seceding from the United States (tho he adds for now they’re not talking about it more unless “grassroots” members bring it up) https://t.co/uANVKm3faT— Taniel (@Taniel) January 19, 2021
When the Casper Star-Tribune later reached out to Eathorne for comment, he replied via text that, “Only a brief conversation with the Texas GOP in earlier work with them,” and “Won’t come up again unless the grass roots brings it up.”
Calling this right now: secession is the next big MAGA play.— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) January 19, 2021
Don’t think they are that crazy? Then you haven’t been paying attention. https://t.co/7FO4Rs2jaD
Rep. Kyle Biedermann is planning to introduce a bill that would allow Texans to vote on secession, branding it as #Texit. However, Biedermann’s plan also prompted backlash. Fellow Republican Rep. Jeff Leach called it “anti-American,” the Dallas Morning News reported.
Secession movements have largely remained pipe dreams in the United States.
This past summer, Richard Kreitner, author of “Break it Up,” a history of secession in the United States, told NPR that if any state was to successfully break off from the union, it would probably be California.
“So it might be the case that California — at some point in the future, in a country even more divided than today, wracked by climate change — issues an ultimatum and says ‘abolish the Senate or redistribute power proportionally to population or we’re going to secede,” Kreitner said.
However, in an article published in The Atlantic exploring the secession movement in Texas, another populous state with a nation-sized economy, the actual legality of leaving the union was questioned (most scholars agree that the constitution doesn’t provide an exit route).
Since Eathorne’s comment, backlash has been swift.
On Tuesday, state Rep. Landon Brown, a Republican, called for Eathorne’s resignation.
I’m calling on the chairman of our state Republican party to resign. Floating the idea of secession as a party plank or statement is contradictory to my stance as a Republican. This idea is pathetic and ill advised - I am appalled that our chairman thinks he has this authority.— WY Rep. Landon Brown (@lbrownhd9) January 19, 2021
Brown told the Cowboy Daily, “Frank Eathorne has done nothing but ostracize Republicans who don’t agree with him,” and “he does not represent the values of the Reagan-era GOP and I think we need to support Republicans in the party, not fractionalize the way our chairman has done.”
For now, Wyoming remains the 44th state, joining the union in 1890. And based on the response to the state GOP chairman’s idea of seceding, residents probably want to keep it that way.