Sunday, November 25, 2018

January 15, 2013 – White House Inadvertently Spurs Secessionists

Later blaming harsh words on a bout of food poisoning, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson addressed a series of petitions asking for an executive order to allow secession with a response that the petitioners had “no idea how the nation worked.” What was meant as an appeal to the legal system (Congress would have to grant secession, not the president) was instead taken as an admission of rigged government by the secessionists, who spun Carson’s words into a campaign that rattled and ultimately split the nation.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The petitions arose on’s We the People online petitioning system following the 2012 elections. Those upset by Obama’s reelection joined ranks with those already disgruntled by federal government to sign petitions asking for the right to secede. The notion was ridiculous to many, citing the obvious example of the Civil War, but the petitions actually gained momentum despite not having legal status as actual requests from states themselves. By January, eight states had petitions above the required 25,000 names to affirm a response from the White House. The petition from Texas garnered signatures into the six figures.

With the secessionists dominating the news cycle in objections to the White House’s response, more and more politicians made their feelings known, such as Texas legislature Speaker of the House Joe Straus III noting, “Our economy is so vast and diverse that if Texas were its own country — and no, don’t worry, that isn’t something we’re going to do this session — but if we were, we’d be the 14th-largest economy in the world.” Texas Governor Rick Perry admitted sharing frustrations with federal government, while Tennessee governor Bill Haslam stated, “I don’t think that’s a valid option for Tennessee.”

Even though Tennessee and others refused to go forward, proposals began to materialize from five states: Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The issue divided the Republican-dominated House of Representatives as the party would lose their control with so many departing Republican seats. Believing the bill would be killed in the Democratic Senate, however, the House passed the Independence for FGALT Bill. The plans behind closed doors were said to blame Democrats for tyranny and build momentum toward shifting control in 2014 elections. To their surprise, along with the rest of the nation, the Senate passed the bill.

Many reasons were cited for voting for IFGALT, such as many just wanting to say “good riddance” to that whole voting block, but the primary voice was economics. Other than Texas, the states were a drain on federal spending, sending more tax dollars into the states than were procured out of them. After major efforts in balancing the budget over the past four years, a single bill would create a federal budget surplus, the first since 2001. The bill passed with more than the numbers needed to override presidential veto. President Obama, who said he would have refused to sign the bill into law if fewer senators had voted for it, stated that the hard actions of the day would make a stronger union for those who remained, though he feared for his legacy.

The transition toward independence for the states was surprisingly smooth as each formed new constitutions and representatives joined NAFTA to ensure continuance of open trade. The Republic of Texas and the Republic of Louisiana maintained independence while Alabama, Georgia, and Florida joined together in a new nation: the Allied States of America. The name prompted a lawsuit from CBS Paramount as it had been used in their 2006 television series Jericho. The suit was quietly settled in the end, but it did establish precedent between the nations to serve later legal issues.

A sizeable migration followed the 2013 departures of the five states with many citizens dedicated to the ideals of independence moving into the new nations while others departed to maintain their United States citizenship. Texas grew in population while the ASA remained steady; Louisiana, however, suffered as a major economic collapse that caused people to pack up in search of work. Politics became radicalized in Louisiana with many calling for a return to the Union. The Hillary Clinton White House, which handily won the 2016 election, dispatched aid but could do little more without congressional approval. The Republic of Texas, too, refused Louisiana’s request to join as a partner state despite close ties to its oil industry.

Other secessionist movements broke out across the nation, although most went silent seeing the collapse of Louisiana, shocking legal changes in the Republic of Texas, and the ASA’s struggles to find international relations distinct from the US. South Carolina had several factions calling for independence, but they could not come to agreement on how the new nation would be governed afterward. The state of Oklahoma campaigned to break in two, with the southern and western parts planning to join the Republic of Texas while the northeast sought to maintain US ties. East Oregon did succeed in splitting away from the more liberal coast, though it did not leave the Union. Several Native American groups announced their own campaigns for independence; however, none were recognized on a large enough scale to win congressional approval.


In reality, the White House’s Jon Carson wrote that the framers of the Constitution “enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot — a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it.”

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