Secession?

Isabel Gonzalez
Nov 13, 2012 at 5:23 PM

In case you haven’t heard, several states are petitioning the Obama Administration for a “peaceful withdrawal” from the United States. 

I browsed the White House petition page to take a look for myself. At approximately 10:30 p.m. MST on 11/12/12, there were a total of 83 active petitions -- and 32 were petitions for secession. In order for the Obama Administration to review and provide an official response, the petitions need to acquire at least 25,000 signatures within a month. 

Here are the totals thus far (yes, I took the time to write them all down): 

  1. Oklahoma - 647
  2. Utah - 1,430
  3. Wyoming - 1,601 
  4. California - 2,613
  5. Ohio - 2,618
  6. New York - 2,081
  7. Delaware - 2,866
  8. Nevada - 4,039
  9. Pennsylvania - 5,346
  10. Arizona - 8,379
  11. Oklahoma - 8,578
  12. Arkansas - 11,382
  13. S.C. - 11,815 (repeat)
  14. Georgia - 15,083 (repeat)
  15. Missouri - 9,586 (repeat)
  16. Missouri - 8,599
  17. Tennessee - 14,830
  18. Michigan - 10,506
  19. South Carolina - 9,319
  20. New York - 9,697
  21. Colorado - 11,461
  22. Oregon - 8,494
  23. New Jersey - 8,069
  24. North Dakota - 7,399
  25. Montana - 8,247
  26. Indiana - 10,361
  27. Mississippi - 10,205
  28. Georgia - 8,163
  29. North Carolina - 14,428
  30. Alabama  - 15,588
  31. Texas - 56,630 
  32. Louisiana - 25,040 

The first petition was put forth by Louisiana on Wednesday, November 7, 2012. Currently, the state that has an overwhelming number of signatures is Texas with a total of 54,725 (and counting). That is more than plenty. But we must not forget that Texas has a population of approximately 25,674,681. That means that the petition only reflects about 0.002% of Texas’ population. Further complicating the matter is the fact that non-Texans are signing the petition. 

I have joked about being in favor of Texas seceding from the United States because it’s fun to act annoyingly proud to be Texan. However, now that there is an actual petition to secede, I feel obligated to take this seriously. 

The Texas petition reads as follows: 

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.

I share the same dissatisfaction as a result of the aforementioned abuses cited in the Texas petition but I do not think that secession is the route we should pursue. Perhaps this petition is not going to actually lead to a secession, but it is definitely making history. When was the last time 30 plus states asked to secede from the United States? 

It is also important to note that the Declaration of Independence states: 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, 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 to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In sum, when the people feel that their government is acting beyond its power, which is to secure unalienable rights, the people have the right to abolish the existing government and form a new government. So, when people refer to secession as “treasonous,” I would have to disagree. Secession from the British Empire was how our country was born. Ron Paul has an interesting take on secession, so watch this video: 

Moreover, I disagree with those who are calling petitioners “crazies” and “racists,” because that is not entirely accurate. I am not disregarding the likelihood that some people who have signed the petition are doing it because they dislike Obama, or even that some are racist. But I am saying that a good number of those people are doing it because they are unhappy about the direction the U.S. has been heading for quite sometime.

I think Obama getting reelected was the final straw for a lot of people. I can relate to that frustration because Obama has done a lot to undermine our freedom and has not received one fourth (arbitrary number that popped in my head) of the outcry Bush received, especially on foreign policy and civil liberties issues. So, yes, there are many individuals who are concerned Obama was reelected despite his horrible record on foreign policy, civil liberties, states rights and the economy. Moreover, this secession talk is nothing new in Texas.

I have chosen not to sign the petition because I think the best way to fix a problem is from within. If Texas secedes, how will we positively influence politics in the U.S.? I am extremely motivated to promote economic freedom, international trade, diplomacy, and humane treatment of immigrants. I cannot turn a blind eye. I think nullification is a better route and something I can fully support.  

My thoughts on secession.
1) Secession will NOT happen. It is literally not possible in the US for historical, cultural, and legal reasons, and therefore spending time, effort, and credibility on it when there are better options to effect change is a waste.
2) Secession is HISTORICALLY associated with racism and other unpleasant parts of American history. Whether that is fair today (it's not) is irrelevant: it is a fact, and arguing for secession puts in company with actual racists and makes us easy to stereotype and dismiss in the media and in the public debate. It's bad for libertarianism to let our ideas become associated in people's minds with racism and bigotry, since that is the opposite of what we stand for.
3) Secession, even if it did happen, could easily lead to more loss of liberty and economic chaos than we currently have to deal with--remember, this was the reason states banded together under the Constitution in the first place--such as trade wars between the fragmented states, border walls and travel restrictions, civil, diplomatic, and military conflict inside and outside the former US, and out of control state governments unrestrained by the Constitution. States can be just as tyrannical as national governments, and all kinds of rights abuses are unintended consequences just waiting happen.

I'm arguing the solution to our problems lies in more argument, more education, more persuasion, more REASON--not secession or revolution. This is not an argument that it's morally wrong, in an abstract sense, just that today is not possible, beneficial to our cause, or even if successful, desirable. I think I'm on firm theoretical and factual grounds on each one of these points.

praxe2's picture

Yeah, I don't really see it happening either -- though of course I could be wrong. Splitting into smaller, regional countries along the lines of the map below (albeit maybe with different dividing lines and general affiliations) seems more likely to me:

 image

Bonnie Kristian's picture