A typical politician floats into office via pretentious hot air balloons of empty promises and plenty of strings-attached dollars; once safely in his seat of power, said politician promptly disregards his “convictions” and slavishly follows the most advantageous lobbyists and most rewarding legislative cliques—anything to stay in office for a few decades.
There are exceptions, however, and Texas Nationalists are watching one of them closely: Jonathan Stickland, a young firebrand representative from Tarrant County.
Although many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle consistently block, mock, and troll his efforts, he has enormous popular support with libertarians, parental rights activists, privacy activists, and gun rights supporters alike.
In short, his goal is to lessen federal influence in the state of Texas. Texas Nationalists recognize this as one step in the right direction. House Speaker Joe Straus seems to consider Republican Stickland his court jester, but the Tarrant County representative’s bills are not jokes.
Antagonist-in-Chief Stickland (as the Texas Tribune dubbed him) champions “controversial” constitutional carry legislation, or, in other words, gun ownership and open carry rights in the absence of licensing restrictions. His H.B. 195 would have eliminated licensing for handguns, and when it fell through he proposed an amendment that also would have rendered current laws on the matter effectively null and void; another of his bills, H.B. 928, prohibits state funds from being used for the enforcement of federal firearm regulations.
Notably, Stickland kept pressing the issue despite being in a situation in which many of his counterparts would have been satisfied with introducing a token bill and giving up when nothing came of it.
Defending the right to privacy is also high on his list of priorities: his H.B. 3916 would literally cut off the National Security Agency in Texas by restricting water and electric service to its buildings, admittedly one of the more clever ways to pull the plug on the federal government. In 2013 Governor Perry signed H.B. 2268 into law, and with it Stickland’s amendment requiring warrants for law enforcement officers before they can search emails and other forms of electronic communications.
Stickland does the opposite of what most legislators do in that instead of using parliamentary tricks to increase government control and personal power, he uses them to push for creative new ways to rid Texas of Washington’s chokehold.
Recently, his H.B. 142—banning red light cameras—ended in Stickland getting thrown out of a committee hearing by Rep. Joe Pickett, a democrat from El Paso. One thing is for sure: Stickland isn’t terribly concerned about what his colleagues think of him.
Like many other representatives’ websites, Stickland’s claims that he wants to “stand up to Washington power grabs” that are “in violation of our state’s rights.” But unlike other representatives, he means it. For him, standing up to Washington power grabs has meant standing up to leadership in Austin as well, and that can be a tall order.
“As conservative Republicans,” he says, “we must draw a line in the sand and say no more.”
Stickland has drawn more “lines in the sand” than most representatives have or ever will, but the question that those seeking an independent Texas ask is whether or not he will draw the line in the sand.
With his strong stances, bold offense, and determined defense, Stickland is one of the few representatives—an exception to the rule—who shows the potential for saying “no more” and ending Washington’s power grabs once and for all.