By Danielle Ryan, Tribune Washington Bureau –
WASHINGTON — What began as a small group of citizens voicing their disappointment with President Barack Obama’s victory in last week’s presidential election, has turned into a plea from hundreds of thousands of citizens to have their states be granted independence from the federal government.
The White House has now received secession petitions from all 50 states by citizens requesting that the administration “peacefully grant” them the opportunity to form their own sovereign government.
The petitions are created through the Obama administration’s ‘We The People’ initiative, which launched in 2011 as an effort to give citizens an opportunity to have their voices heard by the administration.
To appear on the website, a petition must first receive more than 150 signatures. For the petition to be granted a response from the White House, it must receive at least 25,000 signatures.
Currently, 6 secession petitions have reached that threshold – from Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas. The petition from Texas has more than 100,000 signatures—although according to another petition, it seems that 5,000 people in Austin would like to be granted independence from the state of Texas while remaining part of the United States.
Of the 146 petitions currently listed on the White House Petitions website, 66 are requests for secession.
In response to the calls for secession, numerous other petitions have appeared on the website this week, some even calling for the signers of the secession petitions to be stripped of their citizenship and be deported.
One petition with nearly 10,000 signatures calls on the president to “please sign an executive order such that each American citizen who signed a petition from any state to secede from the USA shall have their citizenship stripped and be peacefully deported.”
Another petitioner is happy to allow states to peacefully leave the union, as long as they pay their share of the national debt before they go.
Residents of states wishing to form their own governments should “take their own advice about ‘personal responsibility’, and pay their share of the national debt before being released to fend for themselves,” the petition says.
But pleas from citizens to leave the union are not the only requests from citizens to the White House.
A petition created on Nov. 11 calls for the impeachment of the president, while another is a call to “restore objectivity and fairness to our media”.
More than 8,000 people have signed a petition to make Election Day a federal holiday, which could increase voter turnout “by eliminating the pressures and constraints of the workday”.
A more lighthearted petition requests that “in this time of despair” Obama should “do the Hokey Pokey on national television during a special Presidential Address to the nation.” That one had been removed from the website by Wednesday evening.
“If a petition gets enough support,” the website says, “White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response”.