November 15, 2012
Vermont became the 50th state in which some residents are seeking permission to secede from the union Thursday using the White House’s petition site We the People.
The Vermont petition became visible on the site sometime after 10 a.m. It wasn’t actually authored by a Green Mountain State resident but by “Arthur G” who described his location as New York, N.Y. About 500 people had signed the petition as of 1:30 p.m., only 25 of whom said they were Vermont residents.
The flood of state secession petitions began the day after President Obama’s reelection when “Michael E.” of Slidell, La., asked permission for his state to secede. A few days later, dozens of other secession petitions started appearing on the site each day.
Texas’ secession petition is, by far, the most signed appeal currently on the We the People site with more than 100,000 signatures. The urge to secede clearly isn’t uniform, though. A counter petition with about 700 signatures asks the U.S. government to ignore the original secession petition and residents of El Paso and Austin have both filed petitions asking to secede from the rest of the state.
Atlanta residents have filed a similar petition asking to remain with the union if Georgia secedes.
The White House hasn’t issued an official response to any of the secession petitions yet. An official told Nextgov Monday that the administration would respond to any secession petitions that crossed the 25,000 signatures threshold to receive an official response but would not discuss what that reply might say before it was posted.
Petitions from seven states had crossed that threshold Thursday afternoon.
It’s unlikely the White House will be able to formulate a response that will satisfy the majority of secession petitioners, said Daniel Clark, program director for America Speaks, a non-profit that advocates for increased citizen participation in politics.
But a well-crafted response might encourage petitioners to use the site in more constructive ways -- and towards more achievable ends -- in the future, he said.
We the People also has seen a spike in petitions unrelated to secession in the past few days, including petitions to eliminate drone strikes and to increase funding for childhood cancer research.
“Any publicity is good publicity,” Clark said. “This has brought attention to the fact that there is this tool for people to use even if this isn’t a particularly good use of the tool…Maybe it’s the price you have to pay to have openness and transparency and to gather citizen ideas and citizen input.”
(Image via Mahesh Patil/Shutterstock.com)
November 15, 2012