What Good is a Petition?

As of my writing this, there are approximately 675,000 Americans from every state in the Union who have digitally petitioned the White House to allow their state to secede from the United States of America. In other words, there are the beginnings of a movement that seekito break up the United States as we know it.

On its face, I support secession as a principle of individual liberty and sound Constitutional government. If government goes beyond its authority, it is the right of the people to either remove themselves from the association of that government or to abolish it altogether.

That said, the current movement to secede is an endeavor in fruitlessness.

You Don’t Ask For Permission to Stand on Your Rights

It is the right of the people to secede from the institutional association of their neighbors (i.e. government). This comes by natural rights of contract and association. However, once government is established – as the American Revolution and Civil War proved – secession is a difficult endeavor.

American Revolution

Few Americans realize that the Declaration of Independence is a secessionist document. It constituted the secession of the American Colonies from the parent government. If secession is not an American ideal and doctrine, then the Declaration of Independence is not “American”.

The Declaration of Independence represented what many in the American Colonies finally realized – that individual liberty, freedom, property, right to contract, right of association, and the pursuit of happiness are not privileges granted by government but are inherent rights within each person by nature of their existence. They realized that they do not need another’s recognition of those rights for them to exist… The individual must merely recognize and live these rights within themselves independently. The Declaration of Independence was not a document that granted the states independence or anything at all, it was a document that asserted the recognition of reality — that man already possessed rights by nature of his existence.

Civil War or War Between the States?

History is written by the victors, and I often wonder what history books would say today if the South had won the war. Today we call it a Civil War, but if the South would have won it would be called the War Between the States.

I don’t know of a single soul who justifies the inhumane nature of slavery, but the Southern State’s rightful claim of secession is very much an integral part of the American Constitutional Republic. It was the free and independent states in America that formed a Federal government through a Constitution, and it was the fallout of the “Civil War” that made that federal association greater than the States who had made it. Merely because the non-secessionist side won does not invalidate the principle of reality pertaining to the rightful association of individuals. The victor of violence is not inherently right by the victory.

Both the American Revolution and the “Civil War” prove that, while secession is a choice that is inherent in each individual, secession never comes without a cost of bloodshed. In addition, both of these examples demonstrate that secession is not a matter of permission or petition, but a matter-of-fact revelation and realization that our rights of association and contract are inherent.

It is rather ironic when we posit the insane belief that we need someone’s permission to part their company, or that we can force someone to maintain our company and association when they no longer wish it.


I have no qualms with people petitioning their government. I do, however, have a problem with asking the government’s permission to act as free and independent creatures, when it is the individual who rightfully grants authority to government to represent him through a constitution. The creation is not above the creator.

If the signed petitions to government were to declare their separation and ask for peaceful withdrawal, then I would think there is great value in the petition – for it, like the Declaration of Independence, is not asking for permission to act in one’s natural right. It is then the declaration of inherent and inalienable rights and the peaceful petition that non-violence be used in the withdrawal of company, association, and contract.

This, however, is not what is happening. These 675,000+ digital petitions are asking for the federal government’s allowance to part companies. This represents the actions of a slave petitioning its owners’ permission that it withdraw from the plantation, not a representation of free and independent sovereigns declaring their inherent and inalienable right.

As such, I see no sensible outcome from this endeavor, as (1) it shows the spinelessness of the petitioners and (2) the disastrous state of American society that we need the permission of our associates to part their company and fellowship.


The solution is really quite easy… Stop participating! If you don’t think anything is wrong with the system as it is, then keep-on-keepin’-on. However, if you think that something is wrong enough for you to sign a petition asking that you be “allowed” to secede, then you need to show courage and integrity and actually put your money where your mouth and supposed “principles” are.

Not participating does not mean that you stay at home and become apathetic and inactive, but it means that you stop prostrating yourself before your own servant – the government.

Stop taking government money, even if you feel that it is just “your money” that you’re getting back. The more you participate in receiving government benefits, the more you prove how ineffective and unprincipled you really are. Stop asking for permission for things that you are, by the nature of your existence, capable of doing. You don’t need government’s permission, just do it.

When Americans unite and stop participating in the system – that’s when things will change. So long as they ask permission, they are mentally placing the government in a superior position over them – they are slaves to their own mental weakness and ignorance of their own authority and right. No change will happen in America with a people who are mentally captive to their government.


  • Joshua Steimle

    Just playing devil’s advocate, of a sort, is there any sense of doing what you recommend Shiloh AND signing petitions? Or another way to phrase the question would be to ask has any good come of this petition drive, or can any good come of it? Or would it be better if it had never happened? It seems to me some education can come of it, and perhaps for that reason alone it’s worth supporting, but I’m quite open to other ideas and perspectives.

    • Shiloh

      I see this as nothing more than 2008’s “Tea Party” revisited — a basic “Tea Party 2.0”. What good came from the Tea Party? We have a few extra conventionalist Senators (e.g. Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Mike Lee) who cross the Constitutional path from time to time (a little more than their predecessors) but who do it more by convention and chance than by principle. As Locke said, “He that does not [live by reason and reality] to the best of his power, however he sometimes lights on the Truth, is in the right but by chance; and I know not whether the luckiness of the Accident will excuse the irregularity of his proceeding.” The fact is, we still don’t know where these “Tea Party candidates” will come down on any specific issue because we do not truly know or understand what principle, if anything, they are operating from.

      I apply the same critique to this new “secessionist” movement (if it is, in fact, a “movement”). What principle are they seceding? They are asking for permission to secede? What learning experience is this? You take someone who has no idea what secession is, and you use these people as an example — what precedence does this establish? What good is the precedence if it is not rooted in any principle?

      I define “good” as anything that will return the people to a principle of liberty and freedom, and under that understanding I don’t see any “good” coming of this.