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The White House has issued its response to all the secession petitions filed on its website. In the politest way possible the petitioners were given a gigantic red raspberry. In addition, the White House took the opportunity to point out that secession runs counter to the precepts that undergird our democracy, has been ruled to be illegal by the Supreme Court and, tragically, has been tried once before at a cost of 600,000 lives.

Writing a response to the people who view secession as a viable option surely must have been to be a real challenge for the rational, professional, knowledgeable, and educated folks working at the White House. But they were up to the challenge and did a masterful job with this one. While the full text is set out below, I thought it useful to highlight what are arguably the most important points.

The White House pointed out that first and foremost we are a self-governing nation in which people have the power through the ballot box. Elections are the process that has been used for over 200 years for people to elect their representatives and seek to change their government. Destroying the Union or leaving it are not legitimate options. These thoughts are captured here,

Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States "in order to form a more perfect union" through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They 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.
The White House then points out that not only is the ballot box the forum for resolving disputes, but that 150 years ago secession was tried with terrible results.
As President Abraham Lincoln explained in his first inaugural address in 1861, "in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual." In the years that followed, more than 600,000 Americans died in a long and bloody civil war that vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States.
And for those who think that maybe states can secede without the Civil War, the White House also points out that when the Supreme Court addressed this issue it clearly held that secession is not a legal option for states.
And shortly after the Civil War ended, the Supreme Court confirmed that "[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States."
The Supreme Court case referred to is Texas v White, a case which should be mandatory reading for all would be secessionists. Here is a money quotation,
When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.

Of course none of this will assuage the anger and anxieties of the would be patriots in Texas and elsewhere who express their patriotism by wishing to dissolve the Union. They will only be satisfied when a person who looks like them, thinks like them and acts like them becomes President of United States. Of course to find that country they may have to leave the United States and band together to form the Disjointed Republic of Dimbulbistan.

Here is the full text of the White House petition response.

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO
Peacefully grant the State of Louisiana to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government. and 8 other petitions
Our States Remain United
By Jon Carson

Thank you for using the White House's online petitions platform to participate in your government.

In a nation of 300 million people -- each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs -- democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that's a good thing. Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted.

But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don't let that debate tear us apart.

Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States "in order to form a more perfect union" through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They 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. As President Abraham Lincoln explained in his first inaugural address in 1861, "in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual." In the years that followed, more than 600,000 Americans died in a long and bloody civil war that vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States. And shortly after the Civil War ended, the Supreme Court confirmed that "[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States."

Although the founders established a perpetual union, they also provided for a government that is, as President Lincoln would later describe it, "of the people, by the people, and for the people" -- all of the people. Participation in, and engagement with, government is the cornerstone of our democracy. And because every American who wants to participate deserves a government that is accessible and responsive, the Obama Administration has created a host of new tools and channels to connect concerned citizens with White House. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of the We the People platform is a chance to engage directly with our most outspoken critics.

So let's be clear: No one disputes that our country faces big challenges, and the recent election followed a vigorous debate about how they should be addressed. As President Obama said the night he won re-election, "We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future."

Whether it's figuring out how to strengthen our economy, reduce our deficit in a responsible way, or protect our country, we will need to work together -- and hear from one another -- in order to find the best way to move forward. I hope you'll take a few minutes to learn more about the President's ideas and share more of your own.

Jon Carson is Director of the Office of Public Engagement

Also posted at September 17, 1787
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