On September 11, 2012, Americans stopped to reflect on the terrorist attacks over a decade prior. And while the TV screens were filled with images of dignitaries giving speeches and the somber prayers of people whose lives were forever changed on that day, an ocean away, a different drama was playing out.
In the streets of Barcelona, people who consider themselves Catalonians were gathered to celebrate Diada de Catalunya, the National Day of Catalonia. It is a day where the people of Catalonia, a region in Spain bordered by France and Andorra, celebrate their collective desire for national independence and to celebrate their identity as a unique people. It is akin to the Texas Independence Day celebrations of a half-century ago.
In years past, it has not been unusual to see a modified Catalonian flag that bears a single star flying in the sea of 50,000 attendees. However, September 11, 2012 provided quite a different backdrop for Diada de Catalunya.
Rocked by massive unemployment, the threat of a collapsing economy and the lack of political, economic and cultural fairness perceived by the Catalonians, the rally this year was larger - much larger. Local police in Barcelona estimated that the crowd was in excess of 1.5 million and the normal scattering of independence flags was now a sea of them.
Joined with these flags were signs expressing the sentiment of Catalonians to a continued relationship with Spain. They called for independence.
Over the past two years the support for independence among Catalonians has doubled from 25.2% to over 50%. The reasons cited in the independent polls should sound familiar to Texans.
Catalonians are angry that small businesses, which are the backbone of the Catalonia economy, have been crushed under the poor economic choices of the central government in Madrid. They are also upset over immigration policies set in Madrid with no regard to their consequences in Catalonia. In addition, the Spanish high court recently overturned a 2006 referendum passed by the Catalonian people transferring more sovereignty to their regional government. Top all of that off with the fact that Catalonia provided nearly 20% of the revenue for the Spanish government, yet received only 14% and you have a recipe for independence.
By comparison, Texans are also angry that small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy, are being crushed under the weight of poor economic choices by bureaucrats in Washington, DC. In recent polls, Texans cited illegal immigration and the border as one of their top concerns and have consistently rated the Federal Government's performance on both as "poor". Here in Texas, our Attorney General spends as much time in Federal Court as he does in Austin, defending laws passed here in Texas regarding voter integrity, district maps for representation and the imposition of "nationalized health care". All of these are viewed by the majority of Texans as encroachments on our right of local self-government. Top that off with the fact that Texas has become the cash cow for the Federal Government to subsidize other States who have made poor decisions on taxation and spending.
In a poll conducted by Research 2000 in 2009, approximately 35% of Texans favored independence with nearly 50% of Republicans, 40% of Independents and 15% of Democrats supporting it.
Given that the political, cultural and economic pressures that are facing Catalonia as part of a failing Spain in a failing European Union are the same pressures facing Texas, what will the streets of Austin look like on March 2, 2013?