Secessionitis is what diarist George Templeton Strong referred to amid the raft of states choosing to leave the Union in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860. First South Carolina, and then the remaining states of the deep south, followed by the states of the upper south after the Sumter crisis resulted in the call for federal troops. The Civil War was a struggle for property rights and state sovereignty, a titanic conflict to preserve the Union and eventually to usher in “a new birth of freedom.”
Fast forward 150 years and we find those voters who lost the election of 2012 signing secession petitions on the White House web page. How many signers? Virtually every state in the Union has a petition on the website. Of course it’s also spawned some petitions from the cities of Atlanta and Austin offering to secede from their states should their petitions be accepted. The self-imposed rules of the We the People page where the petitions are signed and submitted declare the White House will respond to petitions that receive 25,000 signatures within 30 days of the petitions being filed. Thus far, six states have met this threshold: North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida. Several states are close to the threshold.
Almost all the petitions have some sort of preface. This is the petition from the Texans:
The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it’s citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.
Some are a little less specific. This is Colorado:
s the founding fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government…”
Nothing new here beyond the Declaration of Independence.
Look, I’m not here to just bash these petition signers. I am more here to ask why and what does it mean? Their guy lost in 2012 (and likely 2008,) so what? President Obama has proven that he alone doesn’t make that big a difference. Unless one is consumed by the more extreme right wing rhetoric that Obama is a muslimatheistsocialistfascist, few presidents in my lifetime have either done incalculable good or irreparable harm without considerable aid from outside forces. One can make the argument that Reagan brought an end to the Cold War, but the position of the Soviets was atrophying for years, and with Gorbachev, Reagan finally encountered a leader willing to admit it. Clinton finally achieved budget equilibrium after a decade of deep budget deficits, but only after being forced to deal with a Republican congress. I’ve voted for lots of losers. Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry. I always believed I was voting for the right guy. But I never believed the Republican who won would somehow plunge the country into some kind of new dark age. I don’t believe that’s true of many of those who are sore losers. However, this is the second presidential cycle, Clinton’s being the first, in which a Democratic president was wholly demonized by those who opposed him. Or have you forgotten Whitewater or Vince Foster’s suicide and all the crap that went with that. (Yes I’m leaving out Jennifer, Paula and Monica.) There will be those will try to do the same with Obama. Those who can’t deal with the idea of losing an election to another Democrat. An intellectual. A black man. So they’d rather leave the country. Oh they still want their toys, their way of life. So they’ll secede. To some dark happy space in their mind. No real hardship. They’re not headed to Mali, Myanmar, or the Swat Valley. They’ll hang out in their very red neighborhoods with their very red neighbors and drink their bad beer and hold their breath for four years until they turn–blue–and gleefully listen to Rush, Sean and Glenn. They’ll listen to Coulter on audiobooks because reading is a waste of time.
Mind you, the secessionists represent a tiny proportion of those who voted in the election. Though votes are still being counted, there were nearly 125 million cast. Of those nearly 65 million cast for Obama, and about 60 million cast for Romney. The secessionists represent much less than a million Romney supporters-if indeed they voted for the Republican candidate at all. I’m sure most voters, win or lose, are just glad the quadrennial silly season is over and they can think of something else for a while. Dancing With The Stars, the NHL strike, whether Donald Trump’s hair is real. The important stuff.
Mr. President, I have just one request for you. As the petitions reach their threshold for a required response, your administration should provide one that is not used often enough these days for poor sports and spoiled children that can’t have their way: “No!”