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If your side lost the election, time to secede from the Union?

That will never happen, but people on the losing side of the presidential election are venting via a petition, on a White House website, to have their state secede from the Union. Petitioners in Texas lead the pack.

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The Obama administration introduced 'We the People,' at petitions.whitehouse.gov, in September 2011 in a bid to create 'an unprecedented level of openness in government,' according to the website.

screen capture of petitions.whitehouse.gov

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Are they just sore losers? Or are they, rather, champions of free speech exercising their right of protest against a president they didn't vote for?

The answer, like the outcome of the 2012 election itself, may lie in the eye of the beholder. Either way, an attention-getting, post-election petition drive is under way online from people in 30 states who say they want their state to secede from the Union. Most come from states that went for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the election, with Texas leading the way.

So far, they've flooded the White House website with their petitions – a move calculated to provoke some kind of reply from the executive branch. So far, the White House has said nothing.

Secession, of course, has been tried before (the Civil War springs to mind) and is outlawed by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. That's probably not the real intent of most petitioners, says James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas in Austin

“It’s a form of acting out in which people are expressing deep antipathy toward the president and his policies and him as a person," he says, "and things like this do resonate among traditionalists in Texas who are very wrapped up in Texas history and a sense of Texas independence and a sense of Texas exceptionalism.” 

Most of the petitions feature identical wording for each state, and ask the Obama administration to allow the states to create a new government that would operate independently of the United States. They cite what they perceive as the federal government’s failure to reduce spending and its unspecified attack on civil rights.

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