Texas state flags fly in this file photo.
A vocal group of American citizens are taking partisanship to the ultimate extreme.
A symbol of the obvious political divide within the United States of America, individuals from over 30 states have filed petitions to secede from the Union. These petitions have been filed through the White House website’s “We the People” program.
According to instructions on the “We the People” site, if any online petition receives 25,000 signatures within the first 30 days of its posting, then the White House will officially respond to the petition. Texas, the most prominent state amidst this secession-mania, is the only petition to have surpassed the required 25,000 signatures.
Jonathan Cronin, a junior at Texas State University, thinks that the current secession movements are shortsighted.
“There has been the rhetoric aired by its advocates, but we are not seeing a plan for after secession,” Cronin said. “There has been no practical consideration of state affairs… [Texas] would be on its own to provide municipal or public services to meet basic needs of its citizens.”
The Texan petition, created by a man identified only as Micah H. from Arlington, Texas, currently has over 112,000 signatures.
Despite being created three days after the results of the 2012 Presidential election — where the majority of Texas citizens voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney — the petition does not cite the recent election as a cause for secession.
“The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending,” the petition reads. “Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budge 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.”
But is it really? According to a 2009 survey by Rasmussen Reports, only 18% of Texan citizens would vote to secede if given the option. The majority of the population isn’t on the fence, either. 75% of voters would elect to stay in the United States.
“The Texas secession petition is not going to go anywhere,” blogger Linda Shaw wrote on Gather. “While Americans are not happy that President Obama was reelected on November 6, 2012, there is no reason to take the petitions seriously.”
A journalism student at California Polytechnic State University, Sean McMinn reported that the general on-campus towards the secession movements were not taken seriously by students.
“Most students think it’s pretty funny, but aren’t really giving it much attention,” McMinn said. “One of my professors made a joke about it… he said: ‘If I show up in class and many of you are gone, I’ll just assume you went to fight for one side of the other.’”
A segment of the myriad of petitions submitted through the White House’s”We the People” online program. Though secession from the United States is prevalent, many petitions involve “petitioning the petitioners” or allowing major cities to stay within the Union should their current state secede.
Historically, the only secession attempts to have been successful were those prior to the Civil War, a.k.a. those of the Confederate States of America, and those didn’t even actually succeed. Recent attempts — including Republican Senator Richard Colburn’s bill to create the state of Delmarva from pieces of Maryland, Delaware and Virginia — have all failed.
The current Texas petition is the state’s 57th attempt at secession.
In response to the secession petitions, many citizens have elected to petition the petitioners.
The specific topics vary, ranging from allowing Austin, TX to secede from Texas and stay a part of the United States to exiling all citizens who signed a petition to secede, but they support the Union’s 50 state set-up.
Secessionists claimed that previous legislation supported the states’ right to secede.
Louisiana’s petition to withdraw from the Union cites the Constitution’s right to “institute new Government,” while the petition for the State of Washington claims that the Federal Government has overstepped its Constitutional authority — though it does not cite any examples for doing so.
“There is a sense that this is just another reactionary consequence of the presidential election,” Cronin said. “[It is] rooted in racism and ill-formed perceptions… I think you will find pro-secessionist voices to be in the minority. The movement won’t merit so much as a blip in the long run.”
Should the petitions lead to a larger governmental debate, secessionists won’t find much support amongst the judicial branch.
One of the farthest right justices on the court, Supreme Court Justice Anotnin Scalia does not believe in any constitutional debate over the right of secession.
“I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court,” Scalia wrote. “The answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”
The political consequences of petitions to secede remain to be seen. Many petitions have weeks to go until the 30-day deadline expires, but it currently seems like the best course of action is to hope for the best.
“The last time states tried to secede, it didn’t end well,” McMinn said. “I don’t see it turning out any better this time.”
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