In the wake of President Barack Obama's re-election, a number of disgruntled Texans have been signing an online petition requesting permission for Texas to secede from the Union. Very quickly, the petition attracted enough signatures to require a White House response.Some signatures might have come from non-Texans eager to encourage Texas to go. But Texas is not going to secede. Even Gov. Rick Perry, who has openly flirted with the idea himself, publicly rejected the petition.The question of secession aside, what can be said about the actual consequences of the 2012 election for federal-state relations in America?Did the election matter?In at least one sense, the election proved federalism to be alive and well, as voters in 38 states approved more than 100 ballot initiatives. (bit.ly/SPlxWu) The results of some of these actions were applauded by "liberal" and "progressive" groups, such as Colorado and Washington decriminalizing marijuana. Others were cheered by more "conservative" groups," such as Michigan's defeat of a constitutional amendment that would have provided the right of collective bargaining.All these actions demonstrate the continued political vitality of the states as they play their valued role as "laboratories of policy experimentation" in our federal framework.The re-election of President Obama also has federalism consequences. It virtually assures implementation of the Affordable Care Act, meaning that states will be moving quickly to establish the state-based health insurance exchanges as authorized by the act. In states that refuse, like Texas, the federal government will take charge, thus having the unintended consequence of enhancing the role of the federal government in healthcare policy in the very states that most oppose such involvement.The Affordable Care Act also greatly expands Medicaid services; however, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not be forced to participate in that expansion. Texas and a few other states are resisting Medicaid expansion, but for those that are willing to do it, and ultimately pick up the additional 10 percent of costs, the budgetary impact of Medicaid will continue to grow.President Obama has vowed to address the deficit issue through a combination of increased revenues and budget reductions. Any budget reductions will almost certainly affect the more than $600 billion in annual federal grants to state and local governments: money used for public education, building roads and bridges, funding water and sewer projects, supporting law enforcement activities and the like. Reductions in such grants will force state and local governments to dig deeper in taxpayer pockets to make up the differences, or to reduce services in these vital areas, all at a time when most state budgets have yet to recover from the recession that started in 2007.The most long-lasting impact of the 2012 election for American federalism may well be in its implications for appointments to the Supreme Court, a court that on many federal issues is divided 5-4. Many issues with significant implications for state-federal relations either already are on the court's docket or appear headed there, dealing with women's issues, voting rights, same-sex marriage and affirmative action.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who's 79, is expected to step down soon, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer also are in their 70s. The replacement of any of these could tip the federalism orientation of the court at a time when these issues are being considered and for a generation to come.It's not unrealistic to suggest that the 2012 election may someday be seen as pivotal as the 1964 election of Lyndon Johnson and the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan in shaping the direction of U.S. state-federal relations.Richard Cole is a professor in the University of Texas at Arlington's School of Urban and Public Affairs.