The U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to change the government through elections, but does not provide the right to walk away from the Union, said the White House Monday in response to a Texas petition seeking secession.
In November, more than 125,000 people signed an online petition to “peacefully grant the state of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.”
The petitioners wrote that the country’s economic problems are due to the federal government’s “neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending,” but Texas is able to maintain a balanced budget.
“Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government,” the petition states.
In response, Jon Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement, praised the citizens for participating in a “healthy debate,” but wrote that “we don’t let that debate tear us apart.”
Carson quoted President Abraham Lincoln, who said that the Union is “indestructible.”
“Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States ‘in order to form a more perfect union’ through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government,” he wrote. “They enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot -- a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it.”
The Civil War, wrote Carson, vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a “permanent Union between the states.”
Participation and engagement with the government is essential in a Democracy, he wrote.
“And because every American who wants to participate deserves a government that is accessible and responsive, the Obama Administration has created a host of new tools and channels to connect concerned citizens with White House,” he wrote.
Texas and eight other states filed petitions on the White House’s “We the People” website, which allows any petition with at least 25,000 signatures to receive a response.