In the wake of Barack Obama’s re-election for President, a slew of states have begun petitioning to secede from the Union. A man from Louisiana started an online petition the day after Election Day to secede his state from the nation.
His bold move didn’t go unrecognized; his online site reports more than 36,000 people are in agreement with him in the state of Louisiana. Moreover, petitioners from all 50 states have emerged with more than 675,000 signatures, enough cohesion to reach the President’s desk and become an item to address on his agenda. Hundreds of thousands of people who are unhappy with Obama’s victory are using the petitions as a means of protesting the Obama administration and the ideals he represents.
What is intriguing to note about the petitions is that several of them don’t cite specific reasons for why they want their states to secede. It appears that the attempts are meant to rally a viral cry against the progression of democratic policies to continue in America’s government. The man behind North Carolina’s petition told The Daily Tarheel that he knows the chances of any secessions being granted are extremely slim and that he initially used it as a proposition to show his objection to the government’s growing national debt.
Whatever personal tribulations some petitioners may have with the government, it would be unjust to not recognize the racial hostility that is promoted by the idea of jumping ship. Most of the states that led the viral petition were from states that electorally voted Republican during the 2012 election – places that began to create limitations through voter-suppression laws or supported restrictions for ethnic and gender mobility. As diplomatic as these petitions may sound by calling on the words of the Declaration of Independence to justify the plan to “dissolve … political bands”, they are inherently symbols of divisionism, virtual objections that seek to regress democracy as much as the First Amendment allows.
What ties these present petitions with their racialized past is history itself, which seemingly seems to repeat itself over and over again. The last time states seceded from the Union it was over the preservation of an atrocious act: slavery. As time will reflect, in 1861 there was a desire to hold onto the principles of subjugation that years of imperialism and colonialism had constructed in the minds of some Americans. The secession petitions recall this desire to hold onto the broken glass of a racialized past and present.
What many dissidents and blind petitioners of the present secession have failed to realize is that the glass that once prohibited progress is slowly shattering and leaving holes for prejudiced believers to fall into. A movement backwards such as statewide secession won’t only happen because of the lack of just cause, but also because such a retreat can be – and was on November 6th — averted by the power of liberalism and the 15th and 19th amendments.
Because of the large amounts of signatures gathered on the petitions the White House is expected to respond with their decision in coming weeks. However, it appears that the decision was already made when citizens casted their votes and elected America’s leader – they chose not to go back, they chose not to return to a past that prohibited progressivism, they chose to reject a past that impedes social mobility for minorities. And although those century old scars still mar several segments of our society and continue to swell up in debates, it is clear that the song for racial freedom rings much louder than the “divide-and-conquer” tune of a half-thought out petition ever will.