Some Respond To Election Results By Advocating Secession
We’ve seen all variety of responses to President Obama’s re-election victory last week. Some on the right seem to be well on the way to making their way through the five stages of grief, although there does seem to be an inordinate amount of time being spent on the “Denial” phase, an excellent example of which you. Others on the right appear at least on the surface to earnestly want to engage in a debate about the future of their party, to break out of the conservative media bubble, and to broaden the party’s appeal beyond the limited demographic boundaries that the party found itself trapped in this year, and which will trap it even more in the future. Some, like Rush Limbaugh, don’t appear to think the party needs to change at all or that the Republicans lost this year because the nominee wasn’t conservative enough. And then there are the more extreme people, like those who have decided that the proper response to losing an election is to advocate secession from the Union:
President Obama’s reelection last week has prompted a slew of requests to secede from the United States.
Using the Obama administration’s own We the People website, nearly two dozen petitions have sprung up asking the Obama administration for permission to withdraw from the Union.
The two most popular petitions, Texas and Louisiana, have both drawn more than 10,000 signatures each as of Monday morning. The Texas petition needs only 7,000 more signatures to trigger an official White House response.
None of the petitions explicitly cite Obama’s reelection as a reason for independence, but all were created after last week’s elections.
“The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the [National Defense Authorization Act], the [Transportation Security Administration], etc,” the Texas petition charges. “Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it’s citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.”
Others are more vague for in their reasons for wanting to leave the country.
“just like in 1860 the south secede from the union. 2012 the state of georgia would like to withdraw from the USA,” one of the Georgia petitions states.
Those calls were repeated last week by a Texas GOP official who called the people who voted for President Obama “maggots”:
A Republican official in Texas called for his state to separate from the United States and the “maggots” who reelected President Barack Obama in a newsletter he sent out this week.
Peter Morrison, who serves as treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party, wrote in his post-election newsletter that there was a clear solution to the problem of Obama’s re-election.
“We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity,” Morrison wrote. “But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity.”
“Texas was once its own country, and many Texans already think in nationalist terms about their state. We need to do everything possible to encourage a long-term shift in thinking on this issue. Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government? Let each go her own way in peace, sign a free trade agreement among the states and we can avoid this gut-wrenching spectacle every four years,” he wrote.
Morrison also wrote that “many members of minority groups are simply racist against the party most white people happen to vote for.” He singled out Asian Americans, who he said should be Republican “as they earn more money and pay more in taxes than white Americans.”
It was, of course, an election result that prompted secession in 1860 and 1861. However, as I argued in a post a wrote some five years ago, even if one accepted that there was a right to secede (and I think the Civil War settled that matter), an election result does not rise to the level necessary to justify it:
After a bitterly contested four-way race between Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John Bell, and John Breckinridge. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. He got almost no support in the Southern United States and won no states south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Southern vote, in the meantime, was split between Breckinridge and Bell, with Douglas winning only Missouri. Ironically, those three candidates won a higher percentage of the popular vote (60%) even though Lincoln won the Electoral College.
It was immediately after the election results were certified, and even before Lincoln took the oath of office, that South Carolina seceded. In fact, the entire Deep South had seceded by February 1861.
So, the question is, does the loss of your preferred candidate in a contested Presidential campaign justify rebellion ? Absent some other contributing factor, the answer clearly is no — when the Constitution was formed, the people agreed that they would accept the results of the elections that took place under it. If South Carolina had a right to secede in 1861 because Lincoln won, does that mean that Massachusetts had a right to secede in 2004 when John Kerry lost ?
The logical answer is, I think, no.
And the reason that the answer is no is that the democratic process does not guarantee that your candidate will win, and once you agree to participate in it your are in some sense bound to accept the results of a free and fair election. The fact that your preferred candidate loses, by itself, is not a justifiable ground for a revolution which is, in the end, what secession actually is. Personally I don’t believe that many, if any, of the people making these comments are serious about it, but to the extent they are, they’re advocating something wholly without moral justification.
Now, the Treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party certainly doesn’t speak for the entire Texas Republican Party, not to mention the Republican Party in general. Additionally, it’s likely that many of the signatures on these “secession petitions” are from your regular Internet whack jobs. Indeed, I can say that none of the conservatives that I follow on Twitter or Facebook are taking talk like this seriously, and most of them are denouncing it as stupid and pointless. Nonetheless, this is yet another example of the absurdity of the mindset of many people on the right. Secession? Seriously people, this isn’t 1860 and you’re not Jefferson Davis. But go ahead and sign your silly petitions people, like it will actually ever accomplish anything.