Libertarian Commentary on the News #12-48B: Secession Part I

In a column last week, I noted that the smell of secession is sweet, and in the air.  (Read it here!)

I have been castigated for supporting this week-long fad, and condemned for various things, including abandoning the ideals and dream of “America” and my oath.  I disagree and shall answer those accusations.

Meanwhile, I recall saying that I wished EVERY state would get this petition going, and sometime in the last three days, apparently all fifty states have such a petition going – or several  (some so low in signatures yet that they don’t show up on the main website).

And at least eight states have more than the White House-mandated magic number of 25,000 to be “responded to.”

All of the states so far (in essence one week into the month-long period they have to gather signatures by the White House rules) that have reached the magic 25,000 number are all states of the Old Confederacy.  That should come as no surprise, if for no other reason than the people of those states already did it once: they know what it means.  But there are many states OUTSIDE the South that are at or near the number, and the numbers keep climbing.

It looks as if the petitioning voters of Puerto Rico get their wish and have results of their vote last week put into effect (a constitutional convention and Act of Annexation by the United States: statehood), they may not have a lot of sister states if the more than 800,000 people who have signed these petitions so far get their way.

But I am joking, because the entire thing is a farce: there is no legal status for these petitions, and they will be given a token “response” and it will then be placed in the circular file.  But that doesn’t mean that the entire thing is a total waste of time.  This is a key phase in any political or social movement: people need to hear and talk about the idea, ingest it and make it their own.  And inevitably, opposition to it needs to develop.  This is what is happening: this petition idea is a joke, but it is also a fad.

MamaLiberty joined into the spirit of the thing when she asked me, “Did you see this: New petition: “Deport everyone who wants to secede
She continued: And the governor of Texas is totally against the whole secession thing, of course. I’m sure all of the governors of the affected states feel the same way.

As I told her this morning, I was just perusing the list of petitions and signature totals at White House.gov.  There are two petitions against the secession petitions that have been up since the weekend: one wants to deport everyone and one wants to strip their citizenship and then exile everyone who signed them.  Right now, that is at a very rough count, about a half-million people, with at least 40 states having petitions (some have more than one); at least six of these states have gone above the “magic number” of 25,000 to “force” (by their own rules) the White House to “respond” to the petition.  The leader is Texas, with 95,000+. Others include Louisiana (the first petition), Alabama, North Carolina and Florida (first state NOT to go to Romney to hit that 25K), Tennessee, and Georgia. [As I stated above, as of about 1700 Mountain Time on the 14th, the number was up to more than 800,000 signatures on petitions for all Fifty States, and eight now have the magic number, with at least five more close.]

I am a bit surprised that Texas Governor Perry has come out against it, since he is the most prominent politician to first float the idea, several years ago, and the popular perception is that Texas has the “right” to do so enshrined in treaty law.  But even in a large state like Texas, more than 100,000 people doing this is an attention-getter, and I think he is worried about the known predilection of the First Citizen to punish people.  He may also be getting pressure because the Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM) has enjoyed quite a surge of support and publicity in recent days and weeks.

Of course, there are several things to keep in mind about these petitions:

(a) They have no legal standing whatsoever.

(b) They were created as part of the White House’s public involvement strategy, and give the appearance of democracy with no substance.

(c)  They help identify the rabble’s troublemakers, but also serve as a filtering mechanism to help identify those so stupid that they are not a threat.

(d)  They are one more version of “circuses” by allowing people to blow off steam.

(e)  Their influence is easily curbed by the introduction (a natural reaction) of opposing petitions, such as the two “deport/deny citizenship/exile” petitions, the one calling for Austin to secede from Texas if Texas secedes, and the two very new ones that call for a state to “remain” part of the union, another one calling for a “united” United States, a spoof calling for a national pizza party when Missouri leaves the Union, and similar silliness, including a demand that the seceding states pay “their portion” of the federal debt (whatever that “portion” might be).  And a new one appeared on Thursday, petitioning to let El Paso secede from Texas even if Texas doesn’t secede from the US.

At the same time, I am encouraged and support this silliness and the original silliness of petitioning the White House to secede for these reasons:

(a)  It is fun! And silly: sometimes that is a big help.

(b)  It raises awareness of the entire issue and the split nature of the country even more. This is MUCH more interesting and apt to bring much more general attention to it than some Russian professor claiming that the US is going to break up in 2012.  All this is educating people about secession, and in more general terms, liberty; I would imagine that the various Texan secessionist movements are all getting a lot of inquiries and even recruits.  I think this kind of riling people up is great, all by itself.

(c)  The more people that sign them, and the more states that are listed, the more likely it is that the White House will do something stupid out of anger AND the less likely that they will be able to go after a lot of people personally.  (This leaves mass punishments, and since the administration is demonstrating in Ohio and elsewhere that it is willing to punish a state that VOTED for him, clearly states that didn’t vote for him are fair game and likely to be punished with or without a bunch of their people petitioning for secession.

(d)  It wastes media and government time – just like the “mail your used teabag” thing did a couple of years ago.  And it makes them look foolish, also.  In less than a week the list of petitions on the White House site has gone from about 80 to more than 180.

But if we think that this sort of thing will change ONE SINGLE MAJOR ACTION of the Federal Government and the controllers, we are foolish and naive. Nevertheless, I think it a valuable (and fun!) step in the right direction.

About TPOL-Nathan

Nathan Barton is a christian, self-governor (free-market anarchist), husband, father, professional engineer, Engineer army officer, private businessman, and writer, teacher, and preacher. He works and lives mostly in four western states, and is Southern by heritage and Westerner by birth, upbringing, and choice.
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