Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

If At First You Don’t Secede… Try, Try Again

    What with all the hoopla leading up to the 2012 presidential election, it is difficult to believe that it’s all over now.

    While the results were largely met with favor in the rather liberal Capitol Hill, the outcome has caused many to utilize their First Amendment right to free speech.

    By Nov. 12, citizens in 20 states had filed petitions to peacefully secede from the United States. Less than two days later it was reported that petitions had been filed by all 50 states and the territory of Puerto Rico.

    All the petitions were filed through the government-run website We the People. The Obama administration has previously claimed that any petition garnering more than 50,000 signatures would be met with an official White House response. Though Texas’s petition has since accumulated well over 100,000 signatures, and several other states have surpassed the 25,000 signature mark, the President has not made a formal statement regarding the matter.

    Logistically, secession would be incredibly difficult, especially because states with smaller economies might find it difficult to perform duties required of a nation, like forming a military.

    However, it is important to note that 33 percent of movements to secede a group of states from a parent government in this country have been successful.

    Likelihood of secession aside, the petitions do provide an excellent example of how staunchly divided this country has become.

    Sophomore Clark Huey is a native of Portland, a self-proclaimed Democrat—and a child of conservative parents. While Oregon is traditionally perceived as an enormously blue state, Huey explains that many parts of the state are conservative, making it more clear as to why Oregon was one of the first 20 states to petition to secede.

    “I think there is kind of a knee-jerk reaction to the results of the election,” he said. “I don’t think it’s very logical, because if you actually went down and thought about it, if you actually did succeed in seceding, are you able to protect your borders, have a military, etc.?”

    Huey recently read an article that states that the petitions are more of a symbolic act to express dissatisfaction with federal government rather than an actual call to action. As we discussed, there are many conservative areas in blue states, although these often have a smaller population than the more liberal urban centers.

    “I think for there to be any serious consideration [by the federal government], there has to be more than 50 percent of the population of the state which wants to secede to agree,” he said. “Even then, you have to take into account that half of the population of the state do not want to secede from the nation.”

    Cascadia Now is an organization set in the bioregion of the Pacific Northwest that focuses on gaining more rights in local government. According to the organization’s website, the term “Cascadia” was adopted in 1970 by Seattle University professor David McCloskey as a way to “better describe our growing regional identity.”

    While the term originated more than 40 years ago, media liaison Mike Hodges says that Cascadia Now has been around for several years in terms of the website and a core group of individuals. The current and more well-known organization came up and running a little more than a year ago.

    “I moved to Seattle about four years ago in 2009, and pretty immediately recognized a culture and landscape that is unique from anywhere else in the U.S.,” said Hodges. “I ran into some people who were already a part of the core group that had been building; since then, Cascadia Now has really grown through word-of-mouth.”

    Unlike many politically focused organizations, Cascadia Now doesn’t take sides based on liberal or conservative topics, but rather issues of self-determination and autonomy.

    “People in Portland have more in common with Seattle than they do with Washington D.C.,” Hodges said. “It makes sense for the people of this area to make decisions for their own region.”

    The organization currently has about 6,000 individuals engaged on its forums, and the spread of the Cascadia idea culturally has been remarkable over the last few years. These individuals are interested in focusing on the local government and how it affects the people of the Pacific Northwest.

    “A large part of the case we’ve been making is the shifts that are happening on a national level are the shifts most relevant to our everyday lives,” Hodges said. “The issues that are covered on a national level are simply wedge issues; they camouflage the things that are important to us. Local government has a far greater impact on us than a presidential election can.”
    Huey, on the other hand, believes that government will continue as it has been unless things get worse than they already are.
    “Right now, I just don’t think there’s enough to actually focus on breaking away from federal government and create a stronger local government,” he said.

    As of this past week, the petition submitted by Louisiana had already garnered more than 30,000 signatures. The federal government has 30 days from the time a petition has received 25,000 electronic signatures to respond. Several cities, including Atlanta, Austin and New Orleans, have also submitted petitions asking to stay a part of the U.S. if their respective states are able to secede from the union.

    Along with the petitions for secession, there are also petitions calling for the removal of President Obama, as well as a call to shut down White House petitions since they are “ultimately worthless.”

    More humorous than the petitions to secede are the petitions to strip the citizenship of all those who signed secession petitions, as well as have all the states wishing to secede pay their portion of the national debt before they are allowed to do so. One of the deportation petitions currently has 25,263 signatures—more than enough to be considered by the
    federal government.

    Grace may be reached at [email protected]

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