Monday, January 14, 2013

"The White House Has Answered No to the Secession Petitions."

When right wingers flooded the WhiteHouse.gov We The People petition website with secession petitions created by extremist, fringer elements of the Tea Bagger/Republican sore losers who were unable to accept the fact that the majority of Americans voted to reƫlect the United States' first black president, I waited to see how Vermont's own tiny secessionist movement might react.

The person who authored the Vermont petition was a New Yorker and the Vermont petition got barely 10% of the 25,000 required to get a response from the White House, and of that small group a mere 68 of the signators identified themselves as Vemonters.

Vermont seceshers have known for years that because of their early ties to racists that they've maintained through the years, as well as to murderously inclined anti-Semites, misogynists, homophobes and misandrists, including a segregationist as one of their own Vermont Commons blog writers, theirs is probably the most disliked and unsuccessful Vermont fringe groups to come along in decades.

My opinion in November, and it remains today, is that Vermont secesher propagandist, pseudo-historian, faux journalist, and who also suffers from
a chronic case of Lincoln derangement syndrome, Rob Williams, as well as his sidekick, the sham radical and anti-Vermont Army and Air National guard activist, Juliet Buck, have, inspite of their usual stoopid in such matters, somehow managed to correctly assess that the time wasn't exactly ripe for such an unconstitutional challenge to the Union and kept their big mouths shut, sparing Vermonters another embarrassment at their expense from the unhinged secesher camp. That's probably the only thing that they've gotten remotely right in years. Perhaps it's because the handful of secesher candidates that Williams has backed normally finish last and poll in the single digit (or less) percentile; or that none of the one hundred and eighty (150 representatives and 30 senators) members of the Vermont General Assembly's two houses supports even the discussion of secession; or that no statewide office holder or local legislative official supports their call for such a secesher discussion; or that no member of Vermont's congressional delegation will give them the time of day, let alone engage in such an "absurd" discussion; or maybe it's the utter lack of success in getting even one town, let alone the two hundred that they've promised to have by 2015, to put a secession article on a Town Meeting warrant for discussion. You'd think it might have dawned on these clowns that after 10 years of pitching their ridiculous secesher plan that Vermonters (other than their own self-described "small community) aren't buying what the seceshers are trying to sell. Now comes the White House to set back the secesher plans much, much further.


On Saturday the White House responded and the news ain't great for the barely existent Vermont secesher movement. I'd intended to post about the White House response, the constitutional references contained therein and what it was likely to mean for the local secesher dingbats but I don't think I could have said it better than anti-neo-Confederate expert and activist, Ed Sebesta, did in this post. Ed was kind enough to authorize reproduction of his essay from his blog - he said there:
The white house has answered no to the secession petitions. You can read the White House reply here:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/our-states-remain-united

The reply to the petition quotes Lincoln from both his 1st inaugural address and his "Gettysburg Address," refers to the Civil War and secession in 1861, asserts that the Union is indestructible. These issues are brought up in two paragraphs in the White House reply. Links are provided to Lincoln's "1st Inaugural Address," "Gettysburg Address," and the Supreme Court ruling on Texas vs. White in which the court rules that secession violated the U.S. Constitution. In this blog I will discuss the response after the quotation of these two paragraphs with historical references which follows:

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.

It should be noted that the White House could have given a reply that didn't have historical references or just limit it to the Supreme Court decision Texas vs. White, but they choose to anchor the reply historically, and specifically in Lincoln's speeches, the Civil War and the secession of slave states in 1861 and one of the most emotionally charged events in American history both then and now.

I don't know if this response will get much coverage in the media, but it is in some ways very historic. I did a study in 2011 and 2012 of presidential statements regarding the Civil War and associated issues, such as the terminology they used, for example "War Between the States" versus "Civil War" back to Herbert Hoover.

Presidents have avoided the issue of the constitutionality of secession since the 19th century as far as I have been able to find. Presidents have avoided saying anything that can be construed as a rejection of the Confederacy in the 20th century since President Hoover who used the term "War Between the States" in the fall before he lost his bid to be re-elected.

However, President Obama White House response directly rejects the constitutionality of secession or any justification for it and thus directly rejects a key argument of the neo-Confederates and the Lost Cause historical mythology. It is a direct rejection of a core belief of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans and millions of Americans many of concentrated in the region of the former Confederate states. It is indirectly a rejection of the Confederacy, the leaders of secession and the supporters of secession in 1861. It directly rejects the very phrase "War Between the States." Though presidents haven't used this term since President Clinton used it once in 2000. Importantly it isn't just a rejection on some general reasoned principles, but a rejection based on the arguments used in the Civil War against secession by Lincoln the president who defeated the Confederacy. Obama is using specifically the historical narrative of the Union in the Civil War to reject these petitions.

Lincoln's 1st Inaugural Address contains a lengthy argument of secession which though is an argument that would apply to any effort at secession, is specifically applied by Lincoln to the secession of slave states in 1861. It is a rejection of the secessionists, such as Jefferson Davis, secession convention delegates, and many others.

The response with its reference to the "Gettysburg Address" implies that the defeat of the Confederacy was a great and heroic thing for the world and not just America, for as Lincoln said in that address:
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
In an earlier post I referred to some opinion polls taken about the issues of secession. http://newtknight.blogspot.com/2012/12/tagging-republicans-as-secessionists.html

It refers to an opinion poll that were taken on secession in Georgia. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/12/georgia-miscellany.html

I also had an early post on another opinion poll on secession. http://newtknight.blogspot.com/2013/01/charles-m-blow-new-york-times-columnist.html

Which referred to the following Pew opinion poll result.

http://www.people-press.org/2011/04/08/civil-war-at-150-still-relevant-still-divisive/

The Georgia opinion poll said that 42% of Georgia Republicans would be willing to secede.

When you look at who identifies with the Confederacy in the Pew opinion poll you see that they are primarily white people who identify themselves as Southerners and they mostly live in a former Confederate state. I would hazard to guess that what white votes Obama got in the former Confederate states were largely not from whites who identify themselves with the Confederacy. In short those Obama might antagonize are very unlikely to vote for him anyways.

I blogged on how Obama would respond to these secession petitions at:

http://newtknight.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-will-obama-respond-to-these.html

Basically I predicted that Obama would make a response that was provocative without seeming to be provocative. His hope would be to provoke the Republicans to respond in a way that would identify them with secession and the Confederacy. I don't know for a fact that Obama's response had this intent. However, if you wanted to get a reaction that would identify your opponents with secession and the Confederacy without seeming to provoke, Obama's reply would be the way to do it.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy will certainly have response to this White House reply. Whether Obama's rejection of secession gets a wider response it remains to be seen.

Incidentally the link on the Politico reporting of the response goes to the wrong petition and response.

To keep a record of this White House reply I quote the entire reply following:
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 ideasand share more of your own. Jon Carson is Director of the Office of Public Engagement.
The Huffington Post has more on the secessionist, "petulant, tantrum-throwing children" here.

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