The Northern states are hit by a harsh and deadly winter, one that leads to a nation-wide blackout. The residents of a Buffalo nursing home die while waiting for help that never comes. Panics sets in across the nation as citizen realize that the federal government can’t solve all of their problems. The President, a craven politician, puts the blame on the state of Texas, saying that the state has been hoarding its energy resources and not contributing their fair share to keep the rest of the country running.
With the President determined to make Texas into a scapegoat and proposing a series of new regulations designed to take control of the state’s natural resources, the people of Texas rebel. The newly elected governor fights back, announcing that Texas is prepared to take advantage of the controversial clause in the article of annexation that he says gives the state the right to secede. China and OPEC are quick to offer aide to the new Republic of Texas. While the courts and Congress debate whether or not Texas has the right to leave the union, the CIA decides to take action into their own hands….
That may sound like a particularly paranoid take on today’s headlines but it’s actually the plot of a 1979 novel called The Power Exchange. As a Texan, what can I say? The idea of seceding from the Union has always been a popular one down here, even if it’s not something that we necessarily take seriously. After all, we know that the rest of the States don’t really like us and, for the most part, we don’t like them either. (Not me, though! I love every state in the Union.) So, why not secede and close the northern border and basically kick out anyone who complains about the weather or demands to know why we don’t have a Waa Waa on every street corner? It’s an enjoyable little fantasy, even if it’s probably for the best that it will never happen. For one thing, if Texas actually did secede, Austin would probably then want to secede from the Lone Star Republic and form the People’s Collective of Travis. And if Austin seceded, Dallas would definitely follow, just so we could brag about how much better The Free Republic of Dallas was when compared to all of the other new nations on the North American continent. Things would get messy.
The whole point of The Power Exchange is that it would be very difficult for Texas to secede. Not only would there by legal issues but there would also be military conflict. The new nation would have to make some deals with some less than savory characters. In the book, it may be Governor Jack Green who masterminds the secession but it falls to Lt. Gov. Margaret Coursey to actually pull it off and she quickly learns that there is no easy way to declare your independence. The book was written by political journalist so, needless to say, the sections about how secession actually works tend to get a bit overly technical. Fortunately, there are also secret agents, assassins, and one out of nowhere sex scene that is tossed in to keep things from getting too dry. One thing I’ve learned from reading old paperbacks is that every novel, regardless of the subject matter, had to have at least one sex scene randomly tossed in. It’s kind of like when a character in a movie suddenly curses just to make sure that the movie gets at least a P-13 rating.
The Power Exchange was among the many paperbacks that I inherited from my aunt. I read it the week after Christmas. It was a quick read and fun little “what if?” scenario.