I hadn't known until this week that the White House website invites citizens to start petitions and gather signatures on line. The United States has no initiative or referendum process, so the petitions are symbolic, but they perhaps give the President some idea of what Americans are thinking.
One fresh petition has gathered some public attention. It's a petition to allow Texas to secede from the Union. It's received 114,000 signatures so far, many more than any of the other state secession petitions. (People from other states have copied the Texas petition, including its grammatical and syntactical errors, to make petitions for their own states.)
Ostensibly prepared by conservatives unhappy with the election results, a little thought shows that the Texas secession petition must in fact be a plot of the Democratic Party. Consider these facts:
1. The Defense Department spends more in Texas -- $40 billion in 2009 -- than in all but two other states.
2. The "fiscal cliff" will require automatic cuts in defense spending of $55 billion if Congress doesn't get its act together by December 31.
3. Texas has 38 of the 538 electoral votes that elect our president.
5. Without Texas in the Union, there would be 500 electoral votes, and 251 votes would be needed to win.
6. In that case, a Democratic candidate could lose Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida (the four states that Barack Obama won last week by the closest margins), but still be elected if he or she won the states that President Obama won by wider margins, which together have 263 electoral votes.
From the Democratic Party's point of view, allowing Texas to go its own way covers most of the automatic cuts in the defense budget and locks up the party's control of the White House for years to come. It would also have the delightful side effect of perhaps giving Texans a different view of the immigration question when they're looking at the wall that the United States would build along Oklahoma's south boundary to keep them out. It may not be a coincidence that at least half the signatures on the petition are from people in other states who are willing to see Texas leave.