Secession, Really?

All this talk about secession is about the most ridiculous thing that I’ve seen happen in our country for some time!  At this writing, the count is up to 49 states who have filed petitions to peacefully secede from the United States.  What is even more amazing is that these petitions are making the news.  Why?  This isn’t even news.  This whole secession thing is no more newsworthy then the leaves that blew off my tree from the wind last night!

What makes it even more frustrating is all the blogs and Facebook posts and opinion pieces that are raising these petitions as serious issues, for example, racism.  Come on, really?  By my count, just eleven of the petitioning states are southern states who seceded prior to the Civil War; the rest are mid-western or northern states.  Some are red states while many are also blue states.  How can you draw from these petitions that it is a race thing?  While I certainly don’t support the idea of secession, my assessment of the 707,738 who signed these petitions is that it is not because a black president was reelected but because a president was reelected who supports issues, not just opposed to many conservatives, but who opposes them to the extreme and with vigor.

But that’s for another post, let me get back to the topic of secession.  Why do I find these petitions for secession and the accompanying assumption of news-worthiness so ridiculous?

First, the petitions being signed have no legal or Constitutional authority.  These are petitions on the White House “We the People” website.  What is this website for?  So the president can hear from the American people. What will the White House do with the petitions on this site?  According to the website, if any petition received 25,000 signatures, “White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”     Just to show the seriousness of some of the petitions on the site, there is one that has 472 signatures so far that is titled, “Have President Obama Do the Hokey-Pokey.”  Now this is the place to bring serious issues!

I’m not disparaging the website, it’s a great idea.  If enough people are concerned about a particular issue, the White House will look into and respond to it.  But it has no legal authority!  The most that petitions on this site will accomplish, if they get the required 25,000 signatures, will be to cause the White House to look into it and issue a response. What will that response be for the secession petitions?  “You can’t secede.”

But you say, “it still let’s the president know that people aren’t happy with him, that they don’t like what he believes in, they don’t support what he’s doing with the government.” True, but don’t you think the 59,141,316 votes for Governor Romney(photo from: http://www.solidprinciples.com/blog/the-gops-cold-comfort/2012-election-final-state-results-blue-red-map/) and 1,931,237 votes for other presidential candidates (including 49,426 for Roseanne Barr!) tell him that? This doesn’t even count the throw-away write-in votes for Jesus, who isn’t even eligable to serve as President of the United States-nor do I think that He would want to!  After all, President Obama just had 51% of the popular vote, he must have figured out by now that the 49% of Americans who didn’t vote for him, in some way disagree or don’t approve of him.

Second, these petitions show the world and other Americans that we are a divided country.  It’s true that in some respects we are divided, after all, we have a number of different political parties, all sorts of Political Associations and Lobbies, and any number of publications and websites where we battle out our differences.  But with all of our differences, when the election is over real Americans come back together to work toward a better America.  We don’t seek to separate ourselves.  The actions of the signers of these petitions just create a wider division in our country than there needs to be.

We can (and need to) continue to have our different beliefs about the issues.  We need to debate them and seek to convince the “undecideds” that our way is best. We need to prepare for the next election and work to get our issues supported and our candidates elected.  But we do this as Americans, not as independent states.

Third, The number of signers on these petitions are miniscule.  Consider the population of the United States:  308,745,538.  Compare that to the number of signers (at this writing) of these petitions: 707,738.  That’s a whopping  0.22923019538504227 percent of the populace, well under 1%!    Less than 1/2 of 1% in fact!  Let’s compare them to those who voted on election day, about 123,688,647.  Those who have signed the petition are just 0.5721931779235971 percent of the electorate who voted in the last election, that’s just barely over 1/2 of 1%.So really, these petitions are meaningless because they represent such a small amount of the American people.  The number involved in these petitions is so insignificant that they shouldn’t receive any attention at all, much less all of the attention they are getting.  Here’s an update (15 Nov 12): According to an article on the Washington Times website, a University of North Carolina Sociology professor had one of his classes take on these petitions as a project.  One of the things they discovered in their detailed analysis was that, “As of 7 a.m. Thursday, there were 789,453 signatures, but since many people had signed more than one petition, the class concluded that fewer than half, or 281,780, were unique.”  This just makes the numbers even less significant and therefore, even less noteworthy.

(photo from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Texas_State_Capitol1.JPG)Fourth, a petition from citizens to the President of the United States is not the way a state would secede anyway.  The state’s legal business is performed by the elected officials of that state.  I would imagine that it would be the state Attorney General, by direction of the state legislature with approval of the governor (depending on the percentage of the vote from the legislature) who would file the legal papers with the Federal government for the peaceful withdraw from the United States.  More likely than not, this would still be preceded by a vote by the people of that state. So all of these petitions on the We the People website aren’t even the legal way to go about the whole process of seceding.  If they’re going to start a petition, it should be to their state legislatures for them to take it up while in session.

Finally, the bottom line is the states are not permitted to “peacefully withdraw from the United States of America.”  Many of the petitions quote from the Declaration of Independence, which is a fine document in deed:

“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…”

But what they must not understand is that the Declaration of Independence was our declaration to the King of England.  While it has many nice sentiments and we can gain much insight into the thinking of our founding fathers, it is not a basis for law.  United States law is based on the United States Constitution and even though there is no provision forbidding secession,  I find no provision in it allowing for a state to withdraw from the United States either.

There was a little-known war a few years back.  Maybe you’ve heard of it.    Those in(photo from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863.jpg) the south sometimes call it “The War of Northern Aggression.”  Some in the north called it the “War of Secession.” It’s common name is “The Civil War.” Whatever you call it, it pretty much settled the issue of secession from the United States.  If anyone wonders about that, it is very likely that the United States today could use the same rationale that President Lincoln did to allow for Federal troops to ensure that the States remain United. He contended that since there was Federal property in those states, such as Post Offices, forts and arsenals, that the the Federal government had a right to secure Federal property and prevent the states from seceding.  Lincoln actually had pretty good Constitutional grounds for his argument. Section 8 of the Constitution states,

The Congress shall have Power . . . To exercise Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings;”

From the Constitution and from history we see that the question of secession has been settled.  States can’t do it.

So the only result coming from all of these petitions to secede is the growth of accusations, bitterness, fighting, and division.  All of this at a time when our country needs to come together and see what we can do to make things a little better, even if it is just at the local level where all of us can get involved.

So what would be my advice to all of those who started and signed the petitions for their states to secede from the United States?

Grow up!



You might also enjoy:

Election Results and the Church

Hope After the Election

What About the Third-Party Candidates?

The Falls Church’s John Yates on Elections, Governance and Christian Responsibility

Is Murder OK As Long As My Taxes Are Lower?


11 comments on “Secession, Really?

  1. I’ve read multiple articles about the “Secession”, but none have put it as bluntly and clearly as yours. More people should read this and stop being morons.

    • In a free country we have the right to voice our opinions. If enough of us share the same opinions we have the right to peacefully assemble and work towards a resolution. A petition isn’t going to result in our regaining the freedoms we have lost. But things like petitions give birth to movements that can make a difference. I care. I care a lot. I believe in the ideals this country was founded on. And it wasn’t founded on Socialism.

  2. I believe the petitions are an attempt to let the president know (and I want to know that website) how many of us feel about the direction he plans on changing the United States….its not his color ! Not at all but.. .. In the late 80’s I saw research that indicated that if one person complained in writing or made calls about a certain..subject…changes of something or other…etc… That there were a LARGER number, and I can’t remember the percentage or number of other people who felt the same way but didn’t take the time or energy to complain themselves…….so if we can find more recent research and then multiply the current number of those who did indeed sign….perhaps we would find more that are unhappy at the direction we are going.

    • @cheryl: Duh, the author, who in my opinion nailed things on the head, already mentioned that 49% of voters were displeased with the results of the election.
      You so brilliantly brought up that same point, an act of genius if I do say so myself.

  3. I am with you. One of my employees came in this morning talking about this. My first thought was ” this is about the stupidest thing I have heard lately”. When I hear how bad people think it is here and where they believe the USA is heading, I am amazed. We still have the best country in the world, we still have the most freedom in the world. They should tell us where they believe that their life would be better. Are things tough? Yes…Will they get better……Give it time…Are we heading in the right direction? I believe we are. Now one of my beefs….If our elected people can’t do their job (the financial cliff) they should all be fired. Now maybe we should go over the cliff. It will be very hard on the economy and everyone in it…..but it will cause things to happen….Another beef….Term limits….come in, serve and then leave…eight to nine years max…Taxation………….I am for the Fair Tax Plan. And until we are all demanding it, it will never happen………….God Bless America………..

  4. First – Agree … secessionist petitions are a representative politican action
    Second – Agree … we are a divided nation … while you rail about it you don’t acknowledge the other viewpoint.
    Third – Agree … but this point is really subservient to your point #1 … repetitive and not realy a point
    Fourth – Agree … but this point is really subservient to your point #1 … repetitive and not realy a point
    Fifth – Disagree this arguable point … While States willingly joined the Union they can no more be held in a ‘bad relationship’ than can a wife in an abusive domestic relationship … Constitutionality on your point is not absolute.

    THIS commentary really only makes 3 points one of which (fifth) is really arguable.
    The left and right are in need of a relationship counselor as neither side is ‘hearing’ the other

    • James,

      Thanks for your comments!

      Yes, the first, third and fourth points have a common main theme-the ridiculousness of the petitions, but each addresses a different aspect:

      The first addresses the futility of putting a petition on the White House website and the fact that the election results are clear to show how about 49% of the country disagree with the President.

      The third point addresses the total number of signers showing the lack of significance of the petitions (contrary to the news coverage they’re receiving).

      The fourth point addresses the correct way for a state to attempt to secede from the United States.

      As for the division in our country slightly addressed in my second point, the topic of the article was not the division, but the foolishness of the petitions, so I just briefly commented on it. The division in our country would take many more blog posts to cover!

      As for the fifth point, as my post suggests, I disagree with you. Since the United States is NOT a marriage, your analogy doesn’t really apply. The U.S. is united by more than just an original desire (as in a marriage), but also by the Constitution, interdependence and reliance on each of the states being united. When each state entered the Union, they made a commitment to each other that is not as simple to dissolve as a marriage is. As for the seceding states from the Civil War, my understanding is that as they were readmitted into the Union they agreed not to attempt secession again.

      As I mentioned in my post, the Constitution does allow for the Federal government to protect Federal property within the states. The way that played out in the 19th century was the securing of the seceding states with federal troops. But I really don’t think that it would come to that in this country; there is very little, if any, support for these petitions by the elected officials of each state who would have to buy into the idea of secession for it to go anywhere.

      Again, thank you for your comments; they were very thought-provoking!


      BTW, are you a professor??

  5. Great article. I understand the frustration of those signing the petitions, but I would like to see these efforts, instead, put towards ensuring the Congress will actively investigate the Benghazi issue. It will only happen because of the demands of the people. We should listen to Senator John McCain on this issue: http://video.foxnews.com/v/1969794239001

  6. all great topics except line 5 there are only 2 states that can legally succed from the union as per states rights and its louisiana and texas other than that great article your not a complete idiot like most people so take the compliment liberals

    • Matthew,

      Thank you for your comment!

      While I’m not sure about Louisiana, I’m pretty sure that Texas’ constitution stated that it could divide into more states, but does not provide for withdraw from the Union as is commonly thought. (Don’t remember where I read that, though).


  7. I oppose secession. What I find distrubing however is that polls do show that only 51% of Americans oppose the “idea” of secession. That is really pathetic given that I believe secession is an insult to all those who have died for this country. It also seems highly unpatriotic and un-American. Breaking the USA apart is not patriotic. I think the US is not long for this world. In 20 to 30 years secession will probably happen for real. I’m pretty sure it will be Texas that starts it all happening. There are many, many cars with bumper stickers proclaiming “secede”.

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