You may have seen in the past couple days that the White House's official site- which has a place where anyone can show up and write a petition (which will be responded to by the White House if it gets at least 25,000 signatures)- has seen a glut of people wishing their respective home states to secede from the Union. I counted 36 states, but given that you cannot see a petition until it's gathered at least 150 signatures, there are certainly more. The Daily Caller was able to hunt down petitions for 47 states.
Boy, it's going to be lonely when the United States consists of just Maine, Vermont and Washington, huh? Assuming they don't have petitions made since then too.
As of the moment I write this, Texas and Louisiana have seen theirs hit the 25,000-signature threshold, which means the White House is going to have to deal with this. Florida, Georgia and Alabama aren't far away; in fact, the top nine states in signature count are all former members of the Confederacy (Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas and Colorado round out the top 10).
Let's just say what this is. This is racists who can't bear the knowledge that a black man is not only President, but a two-term President. The last bout of mass secession we had around here was racially-based too and happened in the wake of a Presidential election, that of Abraham Lincoln. So let's just get that out of the way.
Let us further agree that any actual secession is not going to happen. This is a fringe element of people that found a place to flex their muscles and came running as soon as they heard there were secession petitions going on. A bunch of the signatures in any one petition are from outside the state in question, and if one took the time to cross-check them, you'll likely find a lot of repeat names. There is not going to be enough actual support in any of these states to get a real, bonafide secession effort off the ground, and any such effort would get smacked down in a hell of a hurry. Texas v. White, anyone?
And as for the competing petitions asking to deport anyone who's signed one of these petitions, well, that's the other thing. That gets at the heart of why secession is the topic at hand as opposed to the 'I'm moving to Canada' line you typically hear after someone's preferred Presidential candidate loses. People of the liberal persuasion (or for the international audience, liberal from an American perspective) know that the more livable nations other than their own tend to be quite liberal themselves, and that odds are they'd get along rather well. Conservatives don't really have that. The nations more amenable to conservative ideology are not generally places you'd want to move to, the livable liberal nations would never accept them (and at least a few have been preemptively banned from entering the United Kingdom, notably Fred Phelps and Michael Savage) and besides, American conservatives have spent so much time vilifying other nations' opinions that to suddenly move to one of them would be unthinkable now. The people signing these petitions don't want to leave the country. They want to still have America, but they want to run their designated patch of land their way or the highway.
Really. This isn't going to happen.
But what if I'm wrong?
Let's assume, just for a moment, that one of these states actually managed to make a break for it- it would take more than one little petition, believe me- and that the second American Civil War did NOT immediately break out. (Which, if it did, which side has access to the biggest guns again? I wouldn't be placing any bets on the Confederacy winning.) We'll assume a Czechoslovakia-style 'velvet divorce'. Let's just say that the rule against not seceding breaks down via everyone agreeing not to enforce it. What would happen next?
The most important thing to remember, in seceding, is that when you secede, you are officially on your own. You don't get to keep drawing on the resources of the nation you broke off from, at least, not unless you start paying them for the things they used to give you for free as part of the deal of being part of the country. You have to negotiate a trade deal now. If you're Texas and you secede, you don't get to have Nebraska corn and Iowa beef and Florida oranges and Wisconsin dairy and Washington apples and Idaho potatoes. Country music out of Nashville is now a foreign market. The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers and San Antonio Spurs now need passports to go play away games just like the Toronto Blue Jays and Vancouver Canucks. Not to mention the Texas football colleges that are in all likelihood getting kicked out of the NCAA because the NCAA is for American colleges only.
Some measures of infrastructure, such as electricity and the Internet, would still be maintained, but only as far as getting linked up. Everything on your end of the line is your problem. There's no federal money anymore to fix your power lines or your roads. Just the money you raise yourself. So good luck with that.
And oh yes, this all means you may run up a trade deficit to your own former nation. (And let's not even get started on the matter of how much of the existing debt you'll be considered to be taking with you on your way out the door. Because to think you'd be taking no debt with you is a ludicrous notion. All 50 states have contributed to that debt. You're not walking off scot-free and sticking the other 49 with your share of the bill. Even though we all know you're going to try.)
Oh, and good luck with currency too, if you elect to create your own. You could still opt for the dollar if you wanted- several nations do- but remember, prospective Confederacy, that last time you made your own currency, you suffered hyperinflation and your currency is now only valuable as a collector's item.
So if you're on your own, you had better make sure your state can survive by itself. There's no guarantee any other states are coming to join you. Even the poorest states are better off than most nations, but how much of that is due to what is basically revenue sharing? How well does Louisiana get on if the other 49 states aren't chipping in? What does Katrina do to New Orleans if there is just plain no larger federal agency coming, ever? FEMA was way late, but they eventually showed up, not to mention the other federal agencies and random citizens who could simply drive across the Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi borders. If they're all dealing with border control before they can help, how many people that did come, don't? And what of the people of Louisiana who would need to go through it themselves in order to get out, to find some sort of evacuation sanctuary? Even if it's into Texas?
And you had better survive without the help of a former nation that will, in your absence, move further and further away from you. There are the littler things, such as the Texas Board of Education, which has a large hand in dictating school textbooks for the entire nation due to its population, no longer being able to do that, and New York taking up second place in Texas' stead behind California. But more fundamentally, if you're leaving, you're taking two electoral votes and two Senators with you, and the rest of your electoral votes, as well as all your House seats, are going to be distributed amongst the rest of the country. You remove a deep-red chunk of the country (and let's not even pretend that there are any appreciable number of Democrats signing these things), and the surviving chunk of the country gets bluer as a direct result.
Perhaps even blue enough to bring the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico into the nation as replacement states.