Pe­ti­tions to se­cede are filed for 23 states since elec­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

DEN­VER | It’s tra­di­tional for Amer­i­cans to threaten to move to France or Canada when their can­di­date loses, but this year some dis­ap­pointed vot­ers are im­ple­ment­ing a dif­fer­ent plan.

In the wake of the Nov. 6 elec­tion, pe­ti­tions seek­ing to se­cede from the union have been filed on be­half of 23 states on the White House web­site, https:// pe­ti­tions.white­house.gov/pe­ti­tions. Most of the pe­ti­tions con­tain the same word­ing and ask to with­draw “peace­fully” from the United States in or­der to form in­de­pen­dent gov­ern­ments.

Crit­ics de­scribe the ef­fort as a bit of an over­re­ac­tion. “Any­one who wants their state to se­cede from the union is some­one whose brain has al­ready se­ceded from their body,” said John An­drews, di­rec­tor of the con­ser­va­tive Cen­ten­nial In­sti­tute at Colorado Chris­tian Univer­sity.

Still, the White House may have to take the re­quests se­ri­ously. Ac­cord­ing to the web­site, any pe­ti­tion re­ceiv­ing 25,000 on­line “sig­na­tures” on the “We the Peo­ple” page within 30 days of post­ing will re­ceive a re­view by the ap­pro­pri­ate ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment and a re­sponse from a White House staffer.

As of Nov. 12, the Texas pe­ti­tion had al­ready ex­ceeded the 25,000-sig­na­ture thresh­old, and the Louisiana pe­ti­tion was fast ap­proach­ing the cut­off with more than 18,000 sig­na­tures. Most of the pe­ti­tions were posted on­line Nov. 10, which means they have un­til Dec. 10 to qual­ify for a re­sponse.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to tell from the web­site who is be­hind the drive, given that those sign­ing the pe­ti­tion only use their first names, last-name ini­tials, and city and state of res­i­dence. The web­site does show that most pe­ti­tions in­clude the John Han­cocks of sign­ers from other states.

Steve Eichler, CEO of Tea­Party.org, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion isn’t in­volved with the pe­ti­tion drive, but added that he wouldn’t be sur­prised if tea party ad­vo­cates were at the root of it.

“We have not put out any­thing se­ced­ing from the United States, but the feed­back we’re get­ting shows that peo­ple be­lieve that their elected state lead­ers are more in tune with their needs than those of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment,” said Mr. Eichler.

He added that sup­port for se­ces­sion has cropped up in com­ments on the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s blogs. “Peo­ple are feel­ing dis­en­fran­chised, they’re feel­ing a loss of voice, and they just don’t know what else to do,” he said.

Many of the pe­ti­tions make their ar­gu­ment by quot­ing ex­ten­sively from the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, al­though some also add that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has grown too large.

“The U.S. con­tin­ues to suf­fer eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties stem­ming from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ne­glect to re­form do­mes­tic and for­eign spend­ing,” says the Texas pe­ti­tion, which had more than 34,000 sig­na­tures as of Nov. 12.

The Ore­gon pe­ti­tion ar­gues that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is guilty of an “abuse of power” by forc­ing “un­con­sti­tu­tional laws over [its] own cit­i­zens.”

Seth Mas­ket, po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Den­ver, said the pe­ti­tions may be a good way to blow off steam, but that they carry no le­gal weight.

“It’s hard to see this as any­thing other than sour grapes,” said Mr. Mas­ket in an email. “These pe­ti­tions have no le­gal power and no pres­i­dent would ever agree to them. It’s a way to reg­is­ter dis­sent with the way the ma­jor­ity of the coun­try voted last week, but it’s lit­tle be­yond that.”

Then again, said Mr. Eichler, the pe­ti­tions could be the start of some­thing big, such as the first call for a con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion.

“I’m glad peo­ple can vent their frus­tra­tions, but what if it’s more than that?” he said. “What can we do to stop this en­croach­ment into states’ rights? What are the tools? Well, there aren’t too many of them, but one of them is a con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion.”

Pe­ti­tions have been filed on be­half of the fol­low­ing states: Alabama, Ari­zona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Ge­or­gia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Louisiana, Min­nesota, Mis­sis­sippi, Mis­souri, Mon­tana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ok­la­homa, Ore­gon, Penn­syl­va­nia, South Carolina, Ten­nessee and Texas.

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