Political Animal


November 14, 2012 12:48 PM The Secessionist Boom

By Ed Kilgore

Well, we’re discovering that at least one segment of the GOP’s conservative “base” has found something to do in reaction to the election results other than engaging in a “struggle for the soul of the party” or discussing what its congressional representatives should do about tax and spending deadlines: petition to secede from the Union!

And what began as a right-wing counterpart to those scattered liberal threats in 2000 and 2004 to “move to Canada” if George W. Bush won has gotten a bit more serious: there have been a reported 675,000 digital signatures on petitions from all 50 states received by the White House’s “We the People” site that entertains public requests to do or look into this or that.

It’s no surprise where the bulk of these secessionist demands are coming from, per the Daily Caller’s David Martosko:

Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals.
The Texas petition leads all others by a wide margin. Shortly before 9:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, it had attracted 94,700 signatures.

I don’t know how these numbers compare with, say, sales of Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016, or Glenn Beck’s regular audience. But by any measurement, it’s a lot of angry and crazy people, probably the kind who constantly alternate between super-patriotism and expressions of rage at our actual country. Given the southern inflection of the secession campaign, you’d have to figure nearly all these petitioners are aware (it is impossible to grow up in the South without being marinated in the memory of the Lost Cause and its consequences virtually from birth) that we had a civil war over this subject a while back, which the secessionists did not win. So it’s an unusually dumb gesture, aimed less at Barack Obama than at their fellow-citizens.

I hope the secession campaign continues just long enough to attract a few politicians and journalists who may perhaps give us a glimpse of their vision of civic life in a revived Texas Republic or a new Confederacy. I’m guessing it would feel a bit like my own surroundings during my childhood in Georgia in the early 1960s, only without those socialist New Deal programs. But it would be good for the rest of us to see and understand fully that the hard core of the conservative “base” isn’t made up of people who don’t want Obama to take away their Medicare benefits, or have been reading deeply in Austrian economics.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • rdale on November 14, 2012 12:52 PM:

    This cartoon by the Salt Lake Tribune's Pat Bagley sums it up perfectly:


  • Anniecat45 on November 14, 2012 12:53 PM:

    Texas was supposed to secede back in 2010. This was the additional prize for the winner of the World Series that year. If the Rangers won, Texas could secede. If the San Francisco Giants won, as we did, Texas HAD to secede.

    What took them so long? And when is the Bon Voyage party?

  • martin on November 14, 2012 1:01 PM:

    I guess this is a signifier of the ego differences between Conservatives and Liberals. When Bush one, the Liberals threatened to leave the country. When Obama wins, the Conservatives want to leave and Take The Country With Them.

    I am amused by the number of petitions calling to strip the citizenship of anyone who signs the succession petitions;>

  • JMG on November 14, 2012 1:03 PM:

    The arrest of some of these folks for sedition and advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government would have salutary effect on the national dialogue

  • PTate in Mn on November 14, 2012 1:03 PM:

    I am really very, very glad that the Civil War was fought and won and that the slaves were freed.

    But I am fed up with these lunatics. Looking at the damage that Texas & the Old Confederacy have done to the US over the past 100 years, I am completely willing to support a Constitutional Amendment that would make it possible for states to secede from the Union. So if a majority of people in, say, Texas, decide they would rather be their own little banana Republic, then let them go. Let's call their bluff.

    But no Social Security to residents of Texas, no foreign aid, and it only seems fair that Texans would repay the US for the military bases and other infrastructure investments that the US would leave behind.

  • BillFromPA on November 14, 2012 1:11 PM:

    You've probably read articles over the last week dealing with the stages of grief the wingnuts are going through. I think a similar thing is going on with this secessionist crap. One of many things that has failed to penetrate to the lizzrd brain of these 'Americans' is that Their America doesn't exsist anymore. It probably never did, at least as they viewed it, unless they were adults before Civil Rights leglislation, but they've been promising the 'take America back' the last few cycles.

    I think the obviously earnest secession talk is the first stage in the realization that there's nothing to take back. It's gone, forever, and nearly everything they're trying to 'save' America from is comming to pass, marriage for all, immigration of brown/black people, a better safety net of the socialist Euro manner, you name it. This was their last hurrah, last chance to stem the tide. Most of them realize that demographics are irreversably against them, they can't supress the vote enought to overcome that, so, let's secede!

    It will be interesting to see, once they realize that secession is not in the cards, what the next stage will be. Once they realize 'their' America is gone and their state is permenantly attached to the America that exists, what then?

  • DisgustedWithItAll on November 14, 2012 1:18 PM:

    Let Texas go. That's 38 less electoral votes Republicans can depend on. It's not worth waiting for Texas to turn blue. Austin, and maybe even Dallas, can be Berlin(s).

    Captcha: undique jasses. (Indeed.)

  • c u n d gulag on November 14, 2012 1:18 PM:

    Don't let the door hitcha, where the Mason-Dixon line splitcha!

    This is just wishful thinking by a whole bunch of losers and lunatics, egged on by some politicians and money people, to continue to discredit President Obama.

    Be careful what you wish for, though, Sesech States.
    One day, we may call you on it, and then where will you be?

    Btw – as a NYer, can I add my signiture to these states for them to go?

    For instance, can I sign the petition in SC?

    I’d love to see what a country with Jim DeMint as President, and Lindsey Graham as First Lady, looks like.

  • Virgil Bierschwale on November 14, 2012 1:23 PM:

    a lot of them are naive.
    If they were to look at the money necessary to run Texas and where it comes from, they would find this which would make them stop immediately


  • J.T. on November 14, 2012 1:30 PM:

    For all the talk about "makers and takers," I don't think the folks in these states actually know which states are which. As a Californian, I'm perfectly happy to stop supporting them and keep our tax money at home.

  • Bob Vogel on November 14, 2012 1:30 PM:

    Okay, so what strikes me most about this story is that nobody has stopped to second guess whether the signatures mean anything. There's no rule saying that anyone who signs the petitions have to be from a given state, and there's nothing prohibiting the same person from signing multiple petitions. So, it's probably the same 90,000 wingnut secessionists from Texas signing ALL the petitions. Let's see, that's about 0.0003 percent of the U.S. population. The end is near!

    Just to test my theory, because I signed two of them myself.

  • Mark_NC on November 14, 2012 1:33 PM:

    I live in North Carolina and I DO NOT want to go anywhere. So, I say we let Texas leave and form the Red.... Nation (multiple fill-ins possible) or Tea...... Nation and then we can offer moving money to anybody who wants to leave the USA for Republican land.

    We have to have a reciprocal agreement though. We would require a picture of their faces when they learn that life without So. Security, Medicare, Medicaid, a Post Office, State supported highways, a police force, the fire dept., or even street lights sucks and they can't come back to civilization.

    I'll approve the bargain right now!

  • stormskies on November 14, 2012 1:34 PM:

    They should go ahead and call themselves the United States of White Pigs.

  • Lex on November 14, 2012 1:34 PM:

    I live in North Carolina, where, as of a couple of days ago, there were 792 petitioners, none of them elected officials or otherwise prominent, from a state of well over 8 million people, many of them active-duty, Reserve or retired military.

    Hint to journalists: This is not a story.

  • bluestatedon on November 14, 2012 1:40 PM:

    "So it’s an unusually dumb gesture, aimed less at Barack Obama than at their fellow-citizens."

    I'll give you that it's an unusually dumb gesture—the wingnut base has perfected that. However, with all due respect, your contention that it's not aimed at Obama strikes me as more than a little naive.

  • shivas on November 14, 2012 1:40 PM:

    Start building the fence!

  • Peter C on November 14, 2012 1:44 PM:

    Well, I live in Texas, and I certainly will never vote for a politician who has advocated stripping me of my US Citizenship! This is certainly how I will frame the issue.

  • bluestatedon on November 14, 2012 1:44 PM:

    "Hint to journalists: This is not a story."

    Let's imagine that Romney had won, and that the GOP had captured the Senate. And that in response, 675,000 angry liberals and Democrats had started petitions clamoring for the blue states to leave the Union.

    No print or broadcast journalists would be covering the story, right? Fox News and Rush Limbaugh would ignore this completely to focus on more substantive matters?

  • Anonymous on November 14, 2012 1:47 PM:

    "But it would be good for the rest of us to see and understand fully that the hard core of the conservative “base” isn’t made up of people who don’t want Obama to take away their Medicare benefits, or have been reading deeply in Austrian economics." Preach, brother! It's a bunch of angry old white people...and they will be dead soon. Sadly, some will pass their ignorance and prejudices on to their children, but I do believe the pendulum is swinging towards the center, as it always does. Plus ca change, and all that.

  • Argus on November 14, 2012 1:51 PM:

    I understand why this kind of story is so appealing to some people, but to call it a "secessionist boom" is absurdly misleading (all of these petitions represent less than .5% population). If this is a boom then there has been an explosion in Hispanic-run businesses across the south in recent years, but of course that doesn't reinforce the stupid redneck stereotype. Sure, it's fun to mock stupidity, but these kinds of things seemed designed to reinforce an us/them mentality that ignores that Obama/Romney support was 60/40 or 40/60 across the nation.

  • skippy on November 14, 2012 2:04 PM:

    so, there's a little more than 100,000 people who want to secede from the u.s. than want macy's to dimp donald trump. which one will happen first?

  • OKDem on November 14, 2012 2:13 PM:

    How many are from the states bordering Texas petitioning to *throw* them out of the Union?

  • John Wilheim on November 14, 2012 2:23 PM:

    Has anyone pointed out to the residents of the states that want to secede that they do NOT get to take all the military bases with them?

  • DrBB on November 14, 2012 2:24 PM:

    My dream whenever I hear these threats is that the arrangement would be: yes, you can secede and create your own conservative paradise, but that paradise can't include any technology based on science that is incompatible with a literalist reading of Genesis. So leave your truck, guns and antibiotics behind and enjoy life in your new mud hut.

  • John on November 14, 2012 2:48 PM:

    If you read through the petitions there are some interesting alternatives. One petition asks that anyone who signs one of these secession petitions be deported. Another asks that Austin be removed from TX and be allowed to remain part of the US.

  • Lance on November 14, 2012 2:50 PM:

    Just tell them they have to take their fair share of the National Debt.

    If they complain, just tell them they have to take their share of the National Debt run up when Texans were running the White House.

    The fact that the latter is more than the former might not occur to them.

    oUnders nered

  • TCinLA on November 14, 2012 3:27 PM:

    If Texico goes, they should have to call it The Republic of Aggiestan. Which shows how smart an idea it is.

  • zandru on November 14, 2012 3:41 PM:

    Well, the Pentagon can start its "fiscal cliff" preparations by announcing that it's closing all of its bases in the now-hostile extra-US territories of Texas, Alabama, and the rest.

    Everyone signing one of those petitions ought to get a letter from their SoS which challenges their US citizenship and makes them bring in certain documentation, if they want their right to vote in the United States restored.

    Heh, heh, heh ... well, I can dream, can't I?

    "gaatedoe less" The gate swings both ways.

  • OldUncleDave on November 14, 2012 3:47 PM:

    Let them secede and become independent nations. Then invade them and take them back, as federally governed territories, not states. Then they can't even vote. Haha.

  • boatboy_srq on November 14, 2012 5:00 PM:

    @John Wilheim:

    No military bases (actually, no military whatsoever outside whoever resigns from the US armed forces to go wear a Texan uniform), no FEMA, no federal highway funds, no Dept of Ag, etc etc.

    Plus, no DoD paychecks for local business, no US flood insurance, no TANF, and all the added expense of establishing their own State Dept, border authority and customs, and embassies in the places they think important (who's taking bets that the Texan ambassador to the US would be appointed last?).

    No, of course they haven't thought about all of that. All those benefits of being part of the US of A all automagically happen for them. And good reason for that: Texas is one of the biggest net takers of federal funds in the US. They're paying pennies on the dollar for federal largesse, so there's no concept there of the value they're getting. In their minds it's all the illegals, (wanton) single mothers, "urban voters" and the rest of the Others who get all of that.

    Also, the idea that they can just say - six months later when they're broke and taxing themselves into permanent penury - "Whoopsie! We goofed. Can we come back now?" and get readmitted on a voice vote in Congress doesn't occur to them either. Readmission would take a nationwide referendum from the other 49 (42? by then) and probably a good ten years: and they'll have to survive on their own - or on IMF / World Bank loans - until then.

    I'm all for continuing 5 years or so's worth of the US federal budget for the programs Texas consumes - in grants to Texans who want to remain US citizens and would need to be relocated.

  • Doug on November 14, 2012 7:37 PM:

    This is what happens when the children of those who feared floridating drinking water was a "commie" plot grow up.
    Just as relevant, too...

  • bcinaz on November 14, 2012 10:50 PM:

    I'm signing about 7 of those petitions. I think everyone who voted for PBO should at least sign the Texas Petition. Scare the bejesus out of them. Let then know the United States of America will be taking all it's military bases and defense contracts, NASA, federally funded roads, the air traffic control system and the NFL.

  • sparky on November 15, 2012 12:59 AM:

    Whenever I hear one of my fellow Texans babbling about secession I have to remind them that the large groups of troops stationed at Ft Hood, Ft Bliss, Ft Sam Houston, and all those air bases are members of the UNION army and have sworn no allegiance to the peckerheads running this state. Should be a real short war.

  • Fritz Strand on November 15, 2012 9:25 AM:

    How about a little trial period? For two years the Federal Goverments returns dollar for dollar what they have collected from DooDah land. That way they could adjust to the standard of living of Somalia before leaving permanently.

    Oh wait, Texas will share. If not Texas surely the tooth fairy will

  • jpeckjr on November 15, 2012 10:55 AM:

    In all the comments about federal govt presence in Texas, remember this: Texas has a fairly large number of Fortune 500 headquarters and two major airline hubs, DFW and Houston. Those businesses are not going to want to become "foreign corporations" in relationship to their operations in the remaining 49 states. The airlines are not going to want to convert their hubs to "international" destinations.

    The new nation of Texas would see hundreds of thousands of jobs leave the "country" as these American businesses moved to, well, America.

  • Tacfire on November 15, 2012 11:18 AM: