I rarely find myself in complete agreement with anything that comes out of the Obama administration. But I have to commend Jon Carson, the White House director of public engagement, for his thoughtful response to the petitions received from those asking that Texas and some other states be allowed to peacefully withdraw from the union. This is the sort of thing that can easily be dismissed as the domain of crackpots. Fortunately, only a tiny minority of Texans supports secession. Nevertheless, the ongoing debates about gun control and the debt ceiling have given a concept that deserved to be consigned to the dustbin of history some traction. And since 125,746 signatures were appended to the Texas petition, the White House was obligated to respond in some way. There are some on the right who are inclined to indulge secessionist fantasies as well as others who think such talk is an amusing way to jibe the current president. But those who read Carson’s low-key takedown of the idea will come away understanding that there is nothing funny about it.
As Carson writes, the courts and history have long since adjudicated the concept of secession by the states. No less a source than Abraham Lincoln can be cited to tell us that “in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual.” Lincoln’s answer to the secessionists of his time, who launched a bloody war that left more than 600,000 Americans dead, was to point out that their effort was the antithesis of democracy. The same can be said of the ideas of the latter-day Lone Star republicans who no longer wish to be part of the same country run by Barack Obama. While some radicals may see this as a rational response to the policies of the administration, this is the sort of absurdity that deserves the most severe condemnation from conservatives who understand that any such talk is an irrational diversion of attention from vital debates on the great issues of the day.