James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Texas lullabye-bye: Sadly, secession just a dream

Posted by James McPherson on November 13, 2012

So a bunch of Texas nimrods, apparently unhappy with the outcome of the presidential election in which about half of them probably didn’t bother to vote (something that might get you killed in Arizona), think they want to split from the Union. Of course, a Dallas Cowboys loss to the Washington Redskins is enough excuse for many Texans to favor secession. And many others need no excuse at all.

But of course Texas won’t secede, even if 80,000 Texans and probably at least that many non-Texans would like to see it happen. Hey, I’d buy a bumper sticker myself, if I thought it would help. Adios, amigos. But it won’t, as even Gov. Rick Perry has acknowledged. Too bad–without the 38 Texas electoral votes virtually guaranteed to the GOP, Republicans might never win another presidential election.

After all, 80,000 might seem like a lot (assuming it were actually 80,000 different people), but that’s fewer people than turn out for a Texas Longhorns football game. It’s far fewer, in fact, than half the number who have signed a petition to stop Target from starting “Black Friday” Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day. And it’s not like most folks–outside of some numerically-challenged GOP partisans–should have been surprised by the predictable outcome. Nate Silver and others told us all what was coming.

Besides, even if half the people in Texas wanted their state to leave the Union, perhaps letting Puerto Rico take its place, they’d need to convince their own state legislature to secede. They’re petitioning the wrong government, in other words. Shall we feign surprise?

Along with the Texas petition, also doomed to fail are similar efforts from Alabama, Alaska, ArkansasArizonaCalifornia, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, IdahoIllinois, Indiana, KansasLouisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, NevadaNew Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South DakotaUtah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The spate of copy-and-paste secession petitions–many with the types of spelling errors one would expect from folks more accustomed to sharing their temper tantrums on conservative blogs–demonstrate far less creativity than a few other petitions now gathering signatures on the same White House website. One of those calls for the government to “Deport Everyone That Signed A Petition To Withdraw Their State From The United States Of America.” Another asks that President Obama “please sign an executive order such that each American citizen who signed a petition from any state to secede from the USA shall have their citizenship stripped and be peacefully deported.” A third wants the city of Austin to be allowed “to withdraw from the state of Texas & remain part of the United States.”

In fact, about the only thing the secession movement has done is to make far more people (including comedian Duncan Trussell) aware of the White House website for petitions–an ingenious device that lets people feel like they’re “particpating” in government just by logging in and supporting or opposing something. And all they need is a first name and last initial to “sign” a petition, so they do so as many times as they want and can remain as anonymous as most of the clueless responders on blogs–at least until the government uses their login info to track them down and toss them in the black helicopters to be hauled off to the Denver airport.

Other than that, of course, the petitions are harmless–and meaningless. If the “signers” really are concerned about the state of America, they’re free to leave. But they won’t. Or they could work to change the system, rather than pouting about it. Chances are, they won’t do that, either, so they can get worked up all over again when the next presidential election goes against them, too.

24 Responses to “Texas lullabye-bye: Sadly, secession just a dream”

  1. Nimrod (ˈnɪmrɒd)

    — n
    1. Old Testament Douay spelling: Nemrod a hunter, who was famous for his prowess (Genesis 10:8–9)
    2. a person who is dedicated to or skilled in hunting

    That’s quite a compliment to this crowd.

  2. James McPherson said

    Wow, no kidding. I should have stuck with “morons,” apparently a good, all-American word. Thanks for note; I found more here: http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19990507

  3. Nicely done. :)

  4. melfamy said

    The petition keeping Austin in the union but out of Texas, got me laughing.
    B talked about organizing a protest of the election in DC. I told him that they could call it the Million-Sore Losers March

  5. jm said

    One opinion writer for mainstream media, Dana Milbank, washingtonpost.com, put an interesting spin on this development:

    President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union.

    xx xx xx

    Red states receive, on average, far more from the federal government in expenditures than they pay in taxes. The balance is the opposite in blue states. The secession petitions, therefore, give the opportunity to create what would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.

    READ MORE: “The Confederacy of Takers,” LINK: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-the-confederacy-of-takers/2012/11/13/d8adc7ee-2dd4-11e2-beb2-4b4cf5087636_story.html?hpid=z6

    The post has over 2,900 comments.

  6. jm said

    >McPherson

    BTW, the search term :”petition to secede” in GOOGLE Search shows you’re in good company with this article because a significant number of articles are coming online for this topic.

    Great work as always!

  7. jm said

    “After all, 80,000 might seem like a lot (assuming it were actually 80,000 different people), but that’s fewer people than turn out for a Texas Longhorns football game.”

    And if the trend of online media page views and comments are any indication, the number will pale in significance to the views and comments.

    The one post by Mike Krumboltx, yahoo.com, alone already has generated over 64,000 coments!

    READ MORE: “Secession petitions filed in 20 states,” LINK: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/secission-petitions-filed-20-states-190210006.html

    It’s going viral!

  8. James McPherson said

    “the Million-Sore Losers March”

    I like that. But like most of the things these guys talk ad nauseum about, I bet it won’t happen.

    “over 64,000 coments”

    Amazing. I wonder how many are from people who voted. :-)

    “It’s going viral!”

    That raises an interesting question. Is secession getting so much attention because people are fed up (in which case it seems they’d have worked harder during the campaigns), or is it a sign that things are really getting better? People are less stressed about day-to-day stuff, so they have more time and energy to devote to whining and dreaming. I suspect it’s more the latter than the former. Thanks, gentlemen.

  9. jm said

    “Is secession getting so much attention because people are fed up * * *, or is it a sign that things are really getting better?”

    This is my initial take.

    On topics political, blogs, online news sites and social media have facilitated the ability of people to talk online.

    “Not only does the rapid rise of social media help presidential campaigns and the reporters that cover them, [Ben] Smith said it allows ordinary citizens to join the public discourse as well.” LINK: http://presspass.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/10/15057457-press-pass-buzzfeeds-ben-smith

    In addition, as noted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “social media [is] a significant part of the process by which voters are talking about their ballot selections, especially younger voters.” LINK: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Social-Vote-2012.aspx

    My experience is that people with conservative viewpoints not only talk, but also make significant use of blogs, online news sites and social media to do so.

    The bottom line is that the secession petitioners are disappointed by the election outcomes, and are using the crowdsourcing digital access provided by The White House as a convenient means to express their views and online buzz understanding, of course, that secession will not happen.

    Having said that, “things are getting better” in the sense that people seen to be engaged, and focusing on issues. As you noted, there was significant online reaction to the secession petitioners by deportation petitioners. So the other side apparently was engaged.

    I would interested in the views of some of your readers on this topic.

  10. jm said

    “over 64,000 comments”

    My filter divides that number by 3 to account for responses and replies.

    That cut gives me about 21,000 commenters.

    I would then divide that number by 2 to reach the conclusion that approximately 10,500 voters posted comments, responses and replies.

    Keep in mind that we a talking about one news site.

    That number would be extrapolated to account for a great deal of online activity on blogs, online news sites, videos and social media on the topic, and to suggest a massive universe of online commenters.

  11. jm said

    A few hours ago, Peter Grier, the Washington editor of CSMonitor.com, posted the following:

    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 Ryan – scoffs 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.

    READ MORE: “State petitions to secede from US: Are they just helping liberals?” LINK: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Wire/2012/1114/State-petitions-to-secede-from-US-Are-they-just-helping-liberals/(page)/2

    Interesting!

  12. Sarah Goodwich said

    I love the cocky arrogant liberals who mock secession as ignorance, when in reality they’re the ignorant ones since secession is just as legal now as in 1787.

    Such hypocrisy is insufferable.

  13. Sarah Goodwich said

    P.S. Mcpherson, were you born such a flaming a-hole as a natural talent, or did you spend decades of hard work?
    Either way you became the most asinine prodigy in the world.

  14. Sarah Goodwich said

    Are you James McPherson who’s the LIncoln brown-nosing author of those hagiographies?
    Then never mind, discussion is futile.

  15. James McPherson said

    “liberals who mock secession as ignorance, when in reality they’re the ignorant ones since secession is just as legal now as in 1787.”

    Uh, Glinda … er, Sarah … even if that were true, it’s hardly relevant to my post, since I wrote nothing about the legality of secession. On the issue of thinking that “secessionists” in this case are ignorant, though, you got me.

    “Mcpherson, were you born such a flaming a-hole as a natural talent, or did you spend decades of hard work?”

    Why is it that conservatives tend to think everything has to be “either/or”? :-)

    “Are you James McPherson who’s the LIncoln brown-nosing author of those hagiographies?”

    As a 30-second glance to the left side of your screen could have shown, I’m not the Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War Historian. Nor am I the Pulitzer Prize-winning short story writer, the Coast Guard commander or the highest-ranking officer killed in the Civil War, who happen to share my name. I assume that this “secession-or-slavery” Sarah Goodwich is you, however? http://dumpdc.wordpress.com/tag/sarah-goodwich/

    “discussion is futile”

    I suspect that’s true in this case. But thanks for dropping by.

  16. Justin said

    McPherson, I thought I would drop in, to return the favor of undermining constructive thought, but I see that you have already devoted your blog to that purpose.

  17. James McPherson said

    Gee, Justine, deep conservative “thinking” like that is welcome any time–thanks for sharing it.

  18. William Gates said

    “Other than that, of course, the petitions are harmless–and meaningless. If the “signers” really are concerned about the state of America, they’re free to leave. But they won’t. Or they could work to change the system, rather than pouting about it. Chances are, they won’t do that, either, so they can get worked up all over again when the next presidential election goes against them, too.”

    Have to agree there. I voted for Gary Johnson and he didn’t win. Would all this secession talk be going on if he did? I mean, seriously?

    Basically, a person would be foolish to even consider secession considering what they would be losing vs what they would be gaining. I’m definitely an advocate for states’ rights, which includes the right to secede from the Union, but what would stop Texas from being owned by Mexico again? I mean, they may have a small force of National Guardsmen but that’s about it. Do they really think that they’ll just acquire the planes, tanks, ships, etc that are owned by the taxpayers of the United States once they surrender their citizenship and secede from the Union? What would they do once their SS checks from the US treasury stop? Is there a plan for all this? What happens when another Katrina rolls through Louisiana? Or another oil spill? They have no coast guard, FEMA, or Army Corps of Engineers. What happens then? Have they forgotten it was the taxpayers of the USA that funded the $15 Billion “Federal ” gates and levy system. Maybe they should start paying that back now? Or defund it.

    All of that secession stuff sounds good after a loss at the polls, but that energy needs to be directed at the losing party. It needs to be used to have the GOP engage the democrats in congress instead of disengage about everything. It needs to be used to cross paths of people that are unlike them and interact instead of focusing on one group. Eliminate mistake, and excuses. Stop whining and rebuild from within.

    I’ll vote for the right GOP candidate. Or the right democratic candidate. They just haven’t presented one, IMHO, the last 8 years. It hardly makes me want to give up my citizenship and I think many, that are just talking, feel the same way I do.

  19. James McPherson said

    Excellent point about what they’d give up–of course, these folks probably assume that whatever was in a state when it departed would be theirs to keep. And yes, Texas would quickly become a part of Mexico, with fatter residents than the rest of our newly expanded southern neighbor (at least for a while).

    “It hardly makes me want to give up my citizenship and I think many, that are just talking, feel the same way I do.”

    Agreed, and I hope this whining will die down and Republicans will realize they lost.We survived eight years of Bush and will survive eight years of Obama–and you and I will keep doing what we can to make the nation better, even if neither of us voted for him. (I voted for Jill Stein.) Thanks.

  20. jm said

    “I hope this whining will die down and Republicans will realize they lost.”

    Agreed.

    They also need to get past Benghazi, Rice, Petreaus, Allen and all the other small stuff and refocus on big stuff like the fiscal cliff.

  21. James McPherson said

    Indeed. After all, if John McCain really thinks Benghazi is as big a deal as he’s been pretending–or if he wanted to find out–you’d think he could skip one whining press conference to actually attend a briefing on the subject. I guess he couldn’t stand the thought of having Mitt replace him as the GOP’s biggest loser. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/15/john-mccain-benghazi-media

  22. Reuel said

    Staying out of politics, but do I detect a foe from WND/WJ in the house? James? You know the flowery words do remind me of one of your past fatal attraction st-ockers.

    As for anyone going anywhere, it isn’t going to happen and reminds me of a marriage of necessity, not love. Still out of the political circus, it just isn’t worth the thought or time, 2 sides neither one willing to compromise and the followers of both are to proud to admit their leaders are both wrong. You know who really won on November 6th? Me.

  23. James McPherson said

    How’s the garage project going, Reuel?

  24. Reuel said

    Finished it this weekend, good thing snow is coming. My attitude and waste size are better for it. Still think Barry is the worst President in my life time and the national debt will be near 25 trillion by 2016. Also Obamascare is the wrong prescription for this country. So with theses things said and my large reduction of watching 24/7 news channels. Life is good.

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