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A Look At The Secessionist Movement

The Motivation

Conservative forces throughout the country are unhappy with a president who continually expands the reach of government, forcing citizens to pay additional taxes in order to keep the poor afloat. These groups are beginning to push for secession forcefully, championing a position that was once confined to the fringe elements of conservative parties. Popular conservative media outlets like Fox News are covering these secessionist movements with no incredulity: they see secession as a viable option for states unhappy with current government trends.

Many states were home to secessionist movements before the election, but Romney’s loss has only served as fuel for these movements, which hold Obama responsible for the degradation of the country. It is a testament to the unhappiness of the nation as a whole that even citizens in blue states like New York have filed petitions to secede.

The goal of these movements, of course, is the hope that states could re-assert their dominance in areas that traditionally belong to the states. Education and healthcare are some of the biggest areas that frustrated citizens are working desperately to return to the dominion of the states. Nobody can argue with the idea that should the federal government remain in control of these policy areas, our country will pick up speed as it heads for failure. The federal government continually seizes power from the states, and it should surprise nobody that citizens are coming together to re-assert their power as voters and activists.

White House Petitions

The White House has added a new segment to their website for petitions from citizens. Intended to create better communication between the general public and White House officials, a petition “requires” a response once it has reached 25,000 signatures. That means that a team at the White House will consider the request and prepare an official response for the administration. Some of the more eccentric petitions on the site include things like “re-declaring independence” and legalizing mushrooms; at the moment, there are 248 petitions on a range of issues. However, all fifty states have citizens who are currently petitioning for secession, though at this time, only eleven states have amassed enough signatures to require a White House response. While there are red states across the country pushing for secession, each of the eleven that require a response is located in the South.

The petition for Texas to secede from the Union currently has over 110,000 signatures, more than any other state moving to secede. Texas is currently pursuing almost twenty lawsuits against the federal government; many of their claims revolve around the constitutionality of Obama’s universal healthcare plan and the necessary impact on the states. There are states (and citizens) all across the country that are actively campaigning to involve more community members in the secession movement. These petitions, however, are citizen-based and not official state petitions for permission to secede.

The Reality of Secession

While many secession activists push for autonomy in the hopes of freeing states from the grasp of the overreaching federal government, many of these individuals fail to carefully consider the changes that would occur in terms of every day government operations.

Things that would cease to be provided by the federal government that seceding states would be responsible for include:

  • Highway, bridge, road, and transportation maintenance will cease if state agencies do not immediately institute programs to resume these functions. This also means that air traffic controllers at airports (who are, after all, federal employees) would immediately be moved to airports within the United States, and states would have to shut down airports until new air controllers could be trained. A flight from Texas to the United States would become as onerous as international travel, with a Texas passport and U.S. travel visa required in order to travel. Citizens would be unable to travel to the U.S. without a passport from their new country.
  • All U.S. military bases will be closed and relocated to locations within the United States. Not only would this affect the lives of each military family current located within a seceding state, it would also drastically impact the local economies of the (now independent) countries. Much of the economic activity in an area surrounding a military base depends on the consumer spending of military officers and their families, and relocating these bases would create a chain economic reaction.
  • All Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare programs will cease, along with disability and unemployment programs. Because individuals do not currently pay into a state fund for any of these items, it would likely be years before states could re-start operational versions of these programs. In some states, these programs would likely cease to exist.
  • Border patrol between Texas and Mexico (as well as Coast Guard forces in the Gulf of Mexico) would cease to operate, and states with borders to other countries or bodies of water would be forced to deploy their own forces to defend against external threats.

The truth is that no matter the White House response to these secessionist movements, there are insurmountable legal barriers between the states and secession. Legally, the president does not have the right to allow a state to secede, and no legal framework to do so exists. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that the Union is composed of “indestructible states”: a contract, in other words, that cannot be broken. If any state were to successfully secede, they would likely have to force a constitutional amendment allowing secession through first. With enough liberal voters in the country, it is unlikely that legal procedure would change enough in the next twenty years to allow secession.

While almost no state is equipped to take over all federal functions, these secessionist movements can, at the least, serve a powerful political purpose. With citizens in every single state pushing for the secession, the federal government may finally have to take heed of citizen complaints about overreaching federal power. The Constitution also reminds us that the power of the federal government comes from the people, and movement has the potential to allow us as a nation to reclaim that power.

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