Some 95,000 people had signed a petition as of Wednesday morning requesting that Texas be allowed to peacefully secede from the United States.
The petition in question is housed on a section of the White House website called "We the People," which launched in September 2011 to allow citizens to create petitions on topics of their choosing. If a petition amasses 25,000 signatures, the website promises that "it will be reviewed by White House staff and receive an official response."
Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Morning News confirmed with the White House that the administration likely will respond in some fashion to the petition, but the official Wilonsky spoke to refused to get into the substance of what might be said. As Wilonsky recounted,
Speaking on background this morning, a White House official says that “every petition that crosses the threshold receives a response.” But the person with whom we spoke this morning can’t say when that’ll be; the phrase “up in the air” was used more than once. Says the official, “We get to all of them, but it depends on how many other petitions are out there.”
The purpose of "We the People," according to the White House website, is to help "the White House understand the views of the American people and have a focused and civil conversation with them." One side of that conversation took a less civil turn on several Facebook pages devoted to the cause.
Here's how Texas would conduct itself as an independent nation today, according to one Facebook user:
But others seemed wary of signing the petition out of concern that the White House would be doing nefarious things with the names it was collecting:
At least one man offered to volunteer his particular talents to the cause:
And the secession movement got some (unlikely?) support from Serbian nationalists:
Needless to say, the whole thing could be a little confusing:
Others sought comfort in the Lord (and the upcoming end times):
Daniel Miller, the President of the Texas Nationalist Movement, spoke with Sean Hannity about the petition and his organization's goal Tuesday night. "The petition that's going to the White House will accomplish virtually nothing because it's basically asking Obama 'Mother, may I?'" Miller said. "But what it will accomplish is this: it will send a very clear message that the people of Texas want their independence." However, Miller said, referendum on the ballot over Texas independence would move the secession ball down the road.
David Martosko, the executive editor of the conservative-leaning news site the Daily Caller , noted that 47 out of 50 states now have petitions to secede on "We the People." But Texans, he explained, "raise more threats of secession than Americans anywhere else, because an urban myth holds that the Republic of Texas retained the option of withdrawing from the U.S. when it joined the Union in 1845." He continued:
While Texas has no special power to leave the United States, it may have an option no other state can boast: In the resolution that Texas passed authorizing the U.S. to annex its territory, it specifically spelled out how Texas could be divided into as many as five separate territories. Each one, the agreement read, would be “entitled to admission” as a new U.S. state.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry asking what would happen if Texas, subdivided into five states, were suddenly entitled to 10 U.S. Senators instead of two.
Rick Perry flirted with the idea of secession in 2009, according to the AP, when he said after a Tea Party rally in Austin, "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."
(Perry's comments in turn prompted U.S. Rep. Ron Paul to muse on secession for almost five minutes in a YouTube video a few days later: It's not un-American to think about the possibility of secession," Paul said. "We came together voluntarily, and a free society means we can dissolve it voluntarily.")
But now, Perry's previous stance appears to have been mostly bluster. On Monday, Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier e-mailed a statement to Wilonsky: "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. Now more than ever our country needs strong leadership from states like Texas."
At least one Facebook commenter expressed dismay over Rick Perry's stance:
Liberals also fired back. Another petition, which had over 3,700 signatures as of Wednesday morning, popped up on "We the People" asking for Austin to be allowed to remain in the United States in the event of Texas's successful secession. The wry Houston Chronicle blogger, The Bloggess quipped:
As a Texan, I'd like to think that most of the people signing the petition to have us secede just don't know how to spell "succeed".
— TheBloggess (@TheBloggess) November 13, 2012
And at the Dallas Observer 'sUnfair Park , an unsigned post (that has amassed more than 4,000 likes!) asked 37 "quick logistical questions," including "Will we get our own dollar with Rick Perry holding a uterus on it?", "Can my gun now carry a gun?", and "Is Chuck Norris the VP or the Secretary of Defense? If so, does he need interns?"