(The Hill) – The White House has responded to a handful of petitions calling for various states to be given the right to secede from the United States, calling for unity and participatory government instead.
“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,” writes Director of the Office of Public Engagement Jon Carson.
“But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don’t let that debate tear us apart,” he adds.
A handful of “We the People” petitions calling for the government to allow various states to secede cropped up following President Obama’s reelection. The White House has responded to all those which received more than 25,000 signatures within a month, the minimum required to get a response.
The states included in the response are Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. The Texas petition received over 125,000 signatures, more than any other.
The response was also issued, ironically, to a petition calling for the deportation of all those who signed secession petitions.
Carson goes on to argue for a united nation based on the Founding Fathers’ intentions, with the “right to change our national government through the power of the ballot.”
“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,'” Carson writes.
He adds that the Civil War “vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States.”
Instead of seceding, Carson says, citizens of the U.S. should engage with the government.
“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,” he writes.
The “We the People” site has received a number of bizarre petitions since its inception, including one to give Vice President Joe Biden a television show, and one calling for the administration to build a Death Star.
The latter petition received a response from the White House this week. As with the secession petitions, the White House let down those hoping for a Death Star.
Paul Shawcross, chief of the White House Office of Management and Budget’s science and space branch, wrote that the proposal was simply too expensive.