As Strong As We Are United, As Weak As We Are Divided

The United States elections ended over a week ago.  The day after the election, one of three things happened–you were either complaining about the outcomes of an office or an issue, you were gloating on Facebook because the person or issue you wanted to win won, or you were merely celebrating the end of the campaign ads.

Or, I guess, you were signing a petition for your state to secede from the union.

Courtesy of JD Lamb (sylvester75117 on flickr)

As of yesterday, all 50 states had filed a secession petition of some kind, submitted through the White House website, and a handful of them had enough signatures to guarantee a White House response (meaning that they have gained over 25,000 signatures).  The petitions were likely started by disgruntled voters, and perhaps some states just jumped on the bandwagon, but there are currently 66 requests for secession on the White House Petitions website, out of 146 petitions total.

Of course, it’s important to note that no states have ever actually succeeded in seceding, including the eleven states that tried to form their own confederacy back in 1861, spurning the American Civil War.  This is probably largely in part because of the wording found in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 in the United States Constitution, which says:

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

In other words, a petition by citizens isn’t going to cause secession.  The secession has to be approved of by both the federal and state governments in order for it to happen.  So the reason the 11 confederate states didn’t officially secede back in 1861 was because the federal government said “no.”

The petition signers have a few obstacles to leap before secession is possible, and so far none are looking likely, seeing as how their own state governments don’t approve of the petitions anyway (Texas’s governor has publically stated disapproval, and Texas is one of the states that started this secession petition trend) and they have to consider their state budgets (they’d have no more access to federal funding, and many of the states with the most signatures were the largest recipients of that in 2010).

In any case, it’ll be interesting to how this pans out.  It’s definitely an intriguing look at democracy in action.  But it’s also important to remember that the whole secession thing didn’t go so well back in 1861, seeing as how a civil war broke out.  A divided country is not able to be a strong one, something we learn back in school when we’re learning about, oh, the Civil War, and it’s something we need to try to keep in mind when disgruntled at election results.

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