Secession: Exploding Movement, Tempest In a Teapot … Or Something Else?
A lot of attention is being given to the fact that residents in all 50 states have filed petitions to secede from the United States.
Daily Caller reports:
By 6:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, more than 675,000 digital signatures appeared on 69 separate secession petitions covering all 50 states, according to a Daily Caller analysis of requests lodged with the White House’s “We the People” online petition system.
Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals. (RELATED: Will Texas secede? Petition triggers White House review)
The Texas petition leads all others by a wide margin.
States whose active petitions have not yet reached the 25,000 signature threshold include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Fourteen states are represented by at least two competing petitions. The extra efforts from two states — Missouri and South Carolina — would add enough petitions to warrant reviews by the Obama administration if they were combined into petitions launched earlier.
As Google notes, web searches for the term “secession” are being run in a number of states:
Conservatives – such as Judge Napolitano and Ron Paul - say that the states have the right to secede. And Texas governor Rick Perry said that Texas has a right to secede (although he counsels against it at the current time).
On the other hand, most liberals say that the Civil War ended the state’s right to secede. Huffington Post is covering the wave of secession petitions … to ridicule them.
Daily Kos suggests that “secessionists can secede by renouncing their citizenship“.
As the Daily Caller notes, liberals have launched their own counter-petitions:
In a … nose-thumbing aimed at Texas’ conservative majority, progressives from the liberal state capital of Austin responded Monday with a petition to secede from their state if Texas as a whole should decide to leave the Union.
Late Tuesday a second group of Texans, this one from Houston, lodged their own White House petition. Secession-minded Texans, they wrote, “are mentally deficient and [we] do not want them representing us. We would like more education in our state to eradicate their disease.”
A group from El Paso, too, wants no part of an independent Texas. “Allow the city of El Paso to secede from the state of Texas,” their petition reads. “El Paso is tired of being a second class city within Texas.”
Yahoo News argues that the petitions are meaningless:
The petitions are little more than symbolic—and nothing new. Similar petitions were filed after the 2004 and 2008 elections.
Libertarian website Lew Rockwell argues in a piece by Ryan McMaken that nothing will come of the current secession attempts, but that the principle is important:
I have no illusions about this latest secession petition phenomenon. Nothing will directly come of this, and the people who are behind it are mostly people who would be singing “God Bless America” at the tops of their lungs had Mitt Romney been elected. On the other hand, it sure has a lot of people talking about secession, which shows that the idea of it remains an important part of the American political consciousness.
The Declaration makes a simple argument:
- Humans have rights from the Creator.
- Governments exist to secure those rights (a debatable assertion but we’ll roll with it).
- When the government fails to secure those rights, we can ditch it and start our own government.
That’s pretty much all it says. If you thought that was true in 1776, when tax rates were 1% and there was no such thing as a the EPA or the FBI or the IRS, why is it not true now? Because we’re so much more free now? And, no, the Declaration did not say that the government is free to violate rights as long as people get to vote on it.
The Declaration establishes that there’s no such thing as treason, and a free government requires the assumption of just secession. Lysander Spooner explains[:]
Thus the whole Revolution [of 1775–1783] turned upon, asserted, and, in theory, established, the right of each and every man, at his discretion, to release himself from the support of the government under which he had lived. And this principle was asserted, not as a right peculiar to themselves, or to that time, or as applicable only to the government then existing; but as a universal right of all men, at all times, and under all circumstances.
Ron Paul says that states have the right to secede … and predicts they will do so when the dollar collapses:
My take has been the same for many years … I believe that America – like the Soviet Union – may break up when corruption and tyranny lead to the break down of basic systems.
Update: As Bob Unruh notes, Supreme Court Justice Scalia thinks that the states can’t secede … but Thomas Jefferson thought they could.