As you may have heard, residents in most of these United States have used the "We The People" online petition tool -- previously best known as the primary method that weed enthusiasts used to communicate with high-ranking members of the White House staff -- to file requests to secede from country in the wake of the presidential election, because apparently not everybody got what they wanted out of America's traditional participatory democracy.
"Didn't we try that once before?" asked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Indeed, yes, it was tried before, by South Carolina in December of 1860. Since that date, states opting for secession have a 100% failure rate in splitting from the Union, and that dismal record was amassed long before the United States had a fleet of aerial drone weapons that could be piloted by remote control.
Other governors, perhaps sensing the overall "non-starter-ness" of seceding from the United States, have also publicly declined to support these secession petitions. "I don’t think that’s a valid option for Tennessee," said Tennesee Gov. Bill Haslam. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley released a long statement through a spokeswoman in which he reiterated his belief in "one nation under God" and that "states can be great laboratories of change."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry also threw a wet blanket on the secession petition plan, saying that he "believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it." If you cannot impress Rick Perry with your secession plan, then you won't impress too many people. The best response, in fact, to these secession petitions, is a petition that asks President Barack Obama to do the "Hokey-Pokey."
There is, of course, no reason to take these secession petitions at all seriously. There is probably a fourteen-syllable German word that precisely captures the combination of juvenile whining, sour grapes and goofy anti-government fervor that drove an infinitesimal number of Americans to submit and support these petitions, but the word that the kids in America use to describe this is "butthurt."
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Left-leaning Arizonans attempted to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/10/baja-arizona-state_n_859954.html" target="_hplink">get a measure on the ballot</a> in 2011 that would create a new bastion for liberals in the state. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the measure would have given voters a choice to decide whether to chip off Pima County from the rest of Arizona, creating another state: Baja Arizona. It's an idea that's long been discussed, but <em>The Tucson Sentinel</em> <a href="http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/070111_baja_indepedence/baja-arizonans-declare-independence-from-phoenix/" target="_hplink">reports</a> that the most recent action was spurred by a desire for greater control over local issues and discontent with proceedings at the Phoenix statehouse. "Every bill we've heard about here is either anti-abortion laws or anti-Mexican laws. These are not laws that are geared toward solving the real problems that we have," David Euchner, treasurer of <a href="http://startourstate.com/" target="_hplink">Start Our State</a>, the group behind the secession push, <a href="http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_c2787d7e-fbcb-501f-af4b-c85d4da7ac62.html" target="_hplink">told</a> the <em>Arizona Daily Star</em>.
Maine vs. Northern Massachusetts
Republican Maine State Rep. Henry Joy brought forth <a href="http://www.asmainegoes.com/content/rep-joy-proposes-plan-divide-maine-two-states" target="_hplink">legislation</a> in 2010 to divide northern and southern Maine into two autonomous states. According to Joy, the move was necessary because of a <a href="http://www.restore.org/Maine/overview.html" target="_hplink">proposal</a> that would have turned millions of acres of northern woodland into a nature preserve, leading to the forced relocation of residents in the area. While that measure never passed, Joy was apparently not keen on the prospect of being removed from his home turf. Joy's bill, which eventually <a href="http://failuremag.com/index.php/failure_analysis/article/proposal_to_divide_maine_into_2_states_fails/" target="_hplink">failed</a>, would have allowed the northern portion of the state to retain the name Maine, while the southern section would have been ordained Northern Massachusetts. Joy proposed <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/02/27/maines_split_personality/" target="_hplink">similar legislation</a> in 2005, which also failed.
Democratic Utah State Rep. <a href="http://congress.org/congressorg/bio/id/8481" target="_hplink">Neal Hendrickson</a> submitted legislation in 2008 for the <a href="http://le.utah.gov/~2008/bills/hbillint/hjr006.htm" target="_hplink">creation of a new state within Utah</a>. Hendrickson contended that "citizens in the more populated areas of northern Utah have many interests that stand in stark contrast to the interests of southern rural areas of the state, which feel they do not have the influence on state policymaking that citizens along the Wasatch Front enjoy." His bill, which he said would "provide the citizens of what is presently southern Utah increased access to their state government," didn't pass.
The Republic Of Texas
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/04/15/37587/perry-texas-secession/" target="_hplink">signed</a> onto a non-binding resolution claiming constitutional overreach of the federal government in 2009, some may have thought it was simply a symbolic display meant to show solidarity with a right-wing base disgruntled after the passage of President Barack Obama's stimulus package. A day later, however, Perry took his rhetoric to another level, implying that Texas might <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/15/gov-rick-perry-texas-coul_n_187490.html" target="_hplink">secede</a> if "Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people," by strapping his state with unsustainable taxation, spending and debt.
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), a Republican primary candidate for governor, piggy-backed off Texas Gov. Rick Perry's secession comments last year, <a href="http://hotlineoncall.nationaljournal.com/archives/2010/07/health_care_law.php" target="_hplink">telling</a> <i>Hotline on Call</i> in a discussion about federal mandates in the health care law that states such as Tennessee might be "forced to consider separation from this government" depending on the outcome of the elections. Wamp eventually <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/governor-races/112993-rep-wamp-loses-gov-primary-to-mayor-haslam-" target="_hplink">lost</a> the gubernatorial primary to Knoxville mayor and eventual winner Bill Haslam.
In 1998, Republican Maryland State Sen. Richard Colburn <a href="http://mlis.state.md.us/1998rs/billfile/sb0564.htm" target="_hplink">filed a bill</a> that would have paved the way for the Eastern Shore of his state, as well as parts of Delaware and Virginia, to branch off into a separate entity called Delmarva. <a href="http://www.msa.md.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/012100/012158/pdf/post12feb1998.pdf" target="_hplink">Upset with regulations</a> being forged in Annapolis and passed down to the Eastern Shore, Colburn encouraged Maryland's coastal residents to work toward a referendum that could get the measure on the ballot. It never passed muster.
Lawmakers across New York have long floated secession as a potential way to rectify what they see as imbalances in the burdens of taxes and other economic factors. From <a href="http://www.nysun.com/blogs/culture-of-congestion/2008/01/secession-new-york-city-as-polis.html" target="_hplink">local proposals</a> to split New York City off into its own state, to pushes to turn <a href="http://www.ppinys.org/reports/2004/letupstate.pdf" target="_hplink">upstate New York</a> or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/22/nyregion/22secede.html" target="_hplink">Long Island</a> into their own sovereign entities, all efforts at secession have failed.
The tiny Rhode Island enclave of Block Island made a stir in the 1980s when its residents pursued secession after <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20088188,00.html" target="_hplink">being invaded</a> by a population of moped-riding mainlanders. The state senate and supreme court initially refused to allow the island's governing body to regulate the offending mopeds, which resulted in a <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20088188,00.html" target="_hplink">successful vote</a> to declare independence from the rest of Rhode Island. Massachusetts and Connecticut <a href="http://www.projo.com/specials/century/month10/02733011.htm" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> reached out during the process in the interest of annexing the island. Weeks later, the Rhode Island legislature <a href="http://www.projo.com/specials/century/month10/02733011.htm" target="_hplink">approved a bill</a> giving Block Island regulatory control over mopeds on the island, which sufficiently appeased residents.
Republican West Virginia Delegate Larry Kump <a href="http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/briefs/x746672958/Delegate-admits-W-Va-secession-bill-a-long-shot" target="_hplink">floated a proposal</a> earlier this year to let a number of his state's panhandle counties secede and rejoin Virginia. Citing <a href="http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/01/west-virginia-legislator-hatches-plan-rejoin-virginia" target="_hplink">economic concerns</a>, Kump said his longshot legislation was an attempt to alleviate pressure brought on by the state's struggling manufacturing sector. It failed to gain support both among West Virginians and state legislators.