Interview and photo by Shireen Fatehi-Sedeh, Reporter
Peck Young is the Director of ACC’s Center for Public Policy and Political Studies. The program is designed to provide students with practical experience in the making and execution of government policies.
Having served over 40 years as a political consultant to public figures like Gov. Ann Richards, Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp and Texas Lieutenant Gov. Bob Bullock, Young brings experience and perspective to the political process. Young spoke to Accent about the recent petition for Texas secession and the importance of being involved in politics.
ACCENT: After the 2012 presidential election, there was a petition filed on the White House’s website “We the People” for Texas to secede and form its own government. What do you think motivated that?
YOUNG: I think that was a temper tantrum by people who didn’t like the presidential election. The right to petition is about as old as this country. It’s certainly something that’s in the constitution and in the First Amendment and people should exercise that right when they want to.
ACCENT: Could a petition to secede be successful?
YOUNG: Secession is a legal issue that wasn’t settled by a Supreme Court decision. It was settled by one of the bloodiest wars in American history (the Civil War). The ultimate issue was settled at Appomattox (county in Virginia where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union forces). The issue is settled. States cannot secede. It’s not legal.
ACCENT: What would an independent Texas look like?
YOUNG: We would look like a Northern Mexican state rather than a Southern U.S. state. To even maintain the current standard of living, [Texas] would have to increase taxes and increase services. Fewer people would have fewer services without federal programs, whether its school scholarships, medical aid, or anything else, and federal programs would not be extended to a foreign country. The devastation to the average Texan of not having federal programs from Medicare to Medicaid to Pell grants would just be enormous.
ACCENT: You’re the director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies, would you describe your organization and its mission?
YOUNG: We were created about six and a half years ago here at ACC, because then-President Kinslow thought that there needed to be some opportunity to have some hands-on, more in-depth exposure to civic and governmental affairs, to get what we’ve come to call more civic literacy. We wanted to do it in a way that was not a classroom experience.
ACCENT: Why should students get involved with politics?
YOUNG: Politics is important, interesting and exciting and something you need to be involved with. There’s nothing in your life that isn’t affected by political decisions – from where and how you’re born to where you get buried has got some political implications. You’re better off if you impact politics than just letting politics impact you.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been condensed and edited.