HELENA — A Tea Party group based in Billings has launched digital petitions asking the White House to allow Montana to secede from the United States and create its own new government.
Similar efforts began in all 50 states after the President Barack Obama’s victory earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported.
There are two separate digital petitions requesting that Montana be allowed to secede on the White House website for petitions.
Spearheading the secession effort here are the Montana Shrugged Tea Party Patriots.
“It’s more of an attention-getter,” said Eric Olsen, the group’s co-founder. “We’re trying to raise our voice again, hoping people will listen. We hope somebody listens to us someday.”
The petitions call on the Obama administration to “peacefully grant the state of Montana to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, one Montana petition had the first names of 13,334 signers, while the other had 61.
Anyone can sign the petitions. People signing the petitions electronically do not have to be from the state seeking to secede. Many of the people signing them were from out of state.
On Nov. 13, blogger Tyler Evilsizer reported on IntelligentDisconent.com that of the 7,425 people who had signed the Montana petition by then, only 8 percent were from Montana, while 69 percent were from out of state. The other 23 percent left their addresses blank.
Montana Shrugged’s Olsen called the petitions a step in a long battle and a move to garner some publicity.
“We had some pretty good press for two years,” Olsen said. “After 2010, the press ignored us. It’s just another voice to say we’re still here. We just need the federal government to wake up.”
He added, “This is just a thing to raise the voice of concern. The Tea Party is concerned about deficits and extreme budgets.”
Craig Wilson, a political science professor at Montana State University Billings, called the digital petition for secession a sign of the polarization that exists in Montana and nationally.
“Obviously, they’re a faction of the electorate in Montana,” Wilson said.
However, Wilson said the Tea Party group from Montana can’t secede from the United States. It would require a federal constitutional amendment to allow a state to secede.
He said the MSUB poll done this fall found that 87 percent who disapproved of President Barack Obama said they were economically worse off than they were four years earlier. It also showed that 67 percent who said they were economically better off since 2008 said they would vote for Obama.
“You have economic unrest linked to political unrest,” Wilson said, adding that each affects the other.
The Obama White House has a website, “We the People,” through which people can petition their government. The website is at: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/.
Petitioners have 30 days to obtain 25,000 digital signatures to get a response from the White House.