State petitions to secede from US: Are they just helping liberals?

Some on the right are concerned that the petitions to secede, posted on a White House website by angry voters, are setting conservatives up as easy targets for the mockery of liberals.

Angry voters from 34 states have now started secession petitions on a White House website intended to let individual citizens express their opinions about the direction of the US government.

Whether these disgruntled folks are just conservatives venting about President Obama’s reelection, or whether they really believe they’d have a brighter future in the United State of Georgia, say, is an open question. But they’ve received a lot of media attention in recent days, to the point where some on the right are asking this question: Are these people just helping the left?

That’s because the whole thing goes beyond the appearance of sore losing and nears the outer rings of planet lunacy. It makes conservatives look unhinged and foolish, in this view, setting them up as easy targets for the mockery of liberals. Take Jon Stewart, who on his “Daily Show” Tuesday night said he now understands why so many Southerners still fly the Confederate flag.

“It’s like keeping your fat pants after you lose some weight. You’re happy for now with the new you, but ..." Mr. Stewart said in a segment titled in part “Whine Country.”

Let’s back up a bit, shall we? The White House has a “We the People” forum section on its website that’s intended to allow online viewers to start or sign petitions on issues. If the petitions attract enough support, the administration is supposed to respond, although there’s enough fine print to allow the Obama team to wiggle out of taking up this issue. It’s the administration's website, anyway – not a constitutional convention.

Many of the 34 states that have petitions up are indeed red states won by Mitt Romney, though now voters from some Democratic states, such as Nevada and even Massachusetts, have them up, too. We would not be surprised if angry voters from all 50 states eventually start petitions since there are some irritated citizens everywhere, after all.

The one that’s gotten the most attention is the Texas petition, partly because it has the most signatures (more than 95,000 at last check) and partly because it’s Texas, and it used to be a separate nation, if you remember. Plus, Gov. Rick Perry (R) has dabbled in light secession hinting in the past.

So Governor Perry should be behind this, right? Wrong. His spokespeople are out there making clear he’s got nothing to do with this drive.

“Gov. Perry believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it. But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government,” spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement to The Dallas Morning News.

Other conservatives have been blunter in their defense of the integrity of the nation that was kept together by Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. Over at the RedState blog, editor Erick Erickson – no softy, given that he wants to oust Speaker John Boehner in favor of Rep. Paul Ryanscoffs at the whole effort.

“We here at RedState are American citizens. We have no plans to secede from the union. If you do, good luck with that, but this is not the place for you,” he wrote on Tuesday.

At the National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke writes that he shares the anger and frustration of many conservatives with the election results, but the answer isn’t loose talk of ripping apart the Constitution. It’s focusing on continuing to push for a smaller federal government and more individual freedom within the existing federal structure.

“Talk of secession is asinine, counter-productive, and distracting,” he writes.

One of the best pieces of evidence supporting Mr. Cooke’s above conclusion is that these petitions are still up. They’re on a White House website, remember. If the Obama administration thought this movement truly undermined the White House, don’t you think it’d find a reason to take them down?

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