Secede from the Union? Fuggedaboutit!

This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

These are the words of Abraham Lincoln, as he closed his First Inaugural with an appeal to patriotism in his opposition of the secession of the southern states. That day, Lincoln made three legal arguments against the south’s desire to secede from the union, which obviously fell on death ears to a majority of southerners intent on forming their own country.

Like you, I’ve read all the news reports of patriotic citizens from Romney-won states like Texas and Louisiana wishing to secede from the country now that President Obama has secured a second term. Sour grapes are nothing new in American politics. After all, liberals were ready to move to Canada after President Bush won re-election.But it’s not just southern states looking to form their own country.

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Online petitions to secede have been filed by secessionists in all 50 states – including New Jersey! Yes, as of this morning, over 14,000 residents in the great garden state have singed a petition by “Joe R” from Sewell for New Jersey to be allowed to remove itself from the United States and form its own country. 

Last Year, the White House web site launched a “We the People” program that allows anyone to petition their government for redress on just about any issue. There are petitions to allow Ron Paul to sign his name to the original Constitution, demands to repeal the Second Law of Thermodynamicsfor a more perfect heat transfer and establish a new legal system of motorcycle riding “Judges” who serve as police, judge, jury and executioner all in one. 

Forget the laughable irony of anti-government secessionists filling a petition on a White House website to separate themselves from the government. Also forget that the petition seems to end mid-sentence. Apparently in this new country they want to create (New New Jersey?) English and education won’t be valued traits. 

Also, I guess Joe R. has never visited the Jersey Shore, since he’s calling for New Jersey to pull away from the same union that has awarded us $127 million in emergency aid for storm ravaged areas, and opened 22 FEMA disaster aid centers throughout the state. 

So we can take this talk of New Jersey secession with a healthy grain of salt.

In fact, chances are these secession petitions are just a clever ploy by Stephen Spielberg to help market his new movie, “Lincoln.” It makes more sense than conservatives wanting to cut themselves off from an evil socialist empire they’ve become dependent on.

But how can they be? After all, it was Obama who won by running a campaign of gift-giving to lazy poor people who’d rather collect welfare checks and Obama phones instead of working, right? Unfortunately, the same conservatives that hate him the most are the ones that most benefit from those federal “gifts” they decry him for giving away.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank call them a “Confederacy of Takers,” and noted that allowing these states to secede “would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.” States like Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia and North Dakota receive nearly $2 back from the Federal Government for every dollar they send Washington’s way, and on average red states received $1.46 in federal spending for every tax dollar paid. 

These red states looking to form their own country are the equivalent of Tea Party supporters railing on about the power and scope of the evil government, holding signs that say, “Get your government hands off my Medicare!”

This whole exercise reminds me of another Abraham Lincoln quote that I think is applicable to these numbskulls interested in forming their own country, especially the same ones who are lining up for government goodies: “The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed.”


Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at, and follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe.

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