DENVER — Some disappointed voters have decided the country isn’t big enough for them and President Obama.
Petitions seeking permission for 35 states and counting–including Colorado–to secede “peacefully” from the union have been filed on the White House website, “We the People.”
Under the website’s rules, any petition that garners at least 25,000 online “signatures” within 30 days of posting will be reviewed by the appropriate department and receive a response from a White House staffer.
Most of the petitions were posted Nov. 10, a few days after the election, meaning they have until Dec. 10 to hit the signature threshold. So far the Texas and Louisiana petitions have passed the 25,000 mark, while Colorado had collected more than 14,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
Who’s behind the petition drive? So far nobody is claiming credit, but there’s no denying that the effort has a certain Tea Party feel to it.
Steve Eichler, CEO of TeaParty.org, said he didn’t start the petitions, but noted that he has seen support for secession in comments on the organization’s blog.
“We’re not directly behind it. I believe it’s a spontaneous demonstration by the people,” said Eichler. “People are feeling disenfranchised, feeling a loss of voice, and they just don’t know what else to do. Based on what we’ve seen a lot of people are upset.”
Some conservatives worry that the drive could subject their candidates to charges of extremism. John Andrews, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, called the effort “infantile, absurd and politically suicidal.”
“It sets a new world record for sore losers,” said Andrews. “Anyone who wants their state to secede from the union is someone whose brain has already seceded from their body.”
On the other hand, former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo said that there are worse ways for people to express dissent.
“This is one way to at least express some frustration and anger, and I think it’s a great idea,” said Tancredo, who ran for Colorado governor as a third-party candidate in 2010. “The level of frustration and angst right now has never been greater in my lifetime, and it’s going to manifest itself somehow.”
Those affixing their John Hancocks to the petitions don’t have to live in the same state as the state requesting secession, and the Colorado petition contains many signatures from non-Coloradans. As for an explanation, most of the petitions cite the passage from the Declaration of Independence that states, ” . . . whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government . . ..”
A few petitions also mention the expanded role of the federal government. The Texas petition, which had gathered more than 72,000 signatures as of Tuesday, cites the government’s “blatant abuses” of individual rights under agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration.
One of the more interesting arguments comes from the Alaska petition, which says that many Alaskans were unable to vote on statehood in 1958.
“Alaskans now seek to [hold] a statewide free election to decide whether Alaska should be a free and independent nation,” says the petition.
Petition-signers are only required to list online their first name, last initial and city and state of residence, making it nearly impossible to trace the effort’s origins.
The secession petitions drew a counter-protest on the website Monday in the form of a petition asking the White House to “deport everyone that signed a petition to withdraw their state from the United States of America.” A second petition calls for pro-secession signers to be stripped of their citizenship and sent into exile. The two petitions had drawn more than 4,000 signatures as of Tuesday.