Virginia’s New Secession Crisis | The Imaginative Conservative

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Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, West Virginia. Credit: Kevin King. (https://wvrivers.org/2019/12/survey/)

The governor of West Virginia has invited the disaffected counties of Virginia to leave the Old Dominion and become a part of the mountain state. The loss of these counties and their “deplorables” would mark an end to what little is left of the Old Dominion’s influence in the counsels of the nation.

Source: Virginia’s New Secession Crisis ~ The Imaginative Conservative

To be honest, I have historically had mixed feelings about the very existence of West Virginia (despite my great love for John Denver’s splendid song about her) – no offense whatsoever intended to the good people living there!

But it is, to say the least, deeply ironic that the same Federal government which refused to allow the Southern States to secede from the Union – launching a horrific, bloody war to bring them back by force – was perfectly okay with allowing a separatist rump legislature to secede what is now West Virginia from the Old Dominion.

But that’s history. And history, important (indeed, vital) as it is, is sometimes taken over by current events! Given the present situation, in which (as this essay notes)

“Governor Northam and the leadership of the misnamed Democratic Party [believe] they [are] in a position to issue diktats expanding abortion, curtailing the second amendment, and punishing those who dare to criticize them,”

I am now more than half-tempted to believe that West Virginia was actually saved by an act of Divine Providence to be – potentially – a safe haven for conservative counties now part of the Old Dominion (and perhaps my home State of Maryland, too).

Whether or not this will prove possible remains to be seen, but even the prospect is encouraging. And if it does (as, again, this essay points out),

“Virginia, which is now a microcosm of the country’s culture wars, could lead a new secession movement that could go a long way to relieving the considerable pressures along the fault lines of conflict in America.”

It is true that, as author John Devanny comments,

“West Virginia may not be acting from pure motives in encouraging the secession of Virginia counties from the Richmond Junta and into a union with West Virginia. Tax revenue, economic development, and congressional representation are at stake here. But so too are the important cultural issues.”

As he also accurately notes, America is a nation built on secession. “Secession” of settlers from their native lands, the great secession of the United Colonies from Great Britain – led to military victory by General, later President, George Washington (whose birthday today, February 22nd, is) – in the American War of Independence, and of course the attempted secession of the Confederacy from the Union, in the War Between the States (which this essay also discusses, as background).

In the mid-19th century, the great divide in this country was between North and South, and although slavery played a role, it was by no means the only factor, as Davenny recounts. Nor did the divide begin in the 19th century, nor was the South the first to consider secession – points which the dominant narrative conveniently ignores.

But now, the great divide is between the urban, mostly coastal, “elites” – what Democratic presidential hopeful and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg has openly, arrogantly, and largely erroneously called the “intelligentsia” (with its implication that all who oppose this new quasi-aristocracy are unintelligent and uneducated, the “unwashed masses” his ilk were born to dominate), and the so-called “deplorables” (e.g., those still “bitterly clinging” to God and guns – my people, in other words) in what used to be called “America’s Heartland,” but is now disparaged by the “elite” as mere “flyover country.”

The divide seems to be growing and hardening, and if something doesn’t happen to change, could end up as bitter as the divide over States’ rights, the tariff, and slavery was in the mid-1800s. And if that happens, a similarly bloody outcome is not, unfortunately, entirely inconceivable. Are we seeing a glimmer of a way out, in which States and counties realign themselves into more amenable configurations? A rebirth of authentic Federalism?

It is too early to be sure, of course. The idea that whole counties might “vote with their feet” (as well as the ballot-box) and actually switch States would have been unthinkable even a few years ago; but with the Governor of West Virginia actively inviting it, and some Virginia counties apparently considering the option, it just might be the safety value we need to keep the pressure-cooker from exploding.

Speaking personally, as much as I love Maryland, I would be very happy to join a West Virginia that protected my Second Amendment rights, did not consider that killing unborn children right up to delivery (and in the case of some radicals, possibly even after) was somehow virtuous, and in general respected those of us the “elites” deplore.

That would be, shall I say…

Almost heaven.

 

“Of, by, and for the people”…? A reflection for Lincoln’s birthday

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Today, the 12th of February, is the birthday of one whom some celebrate as the “savior of his country,” while others of us excoriate as a vicious tyrant who may have “saved the Union,” but who in the process trampled the Constitution and destroyed the Constitutional Republic our Founders bequeathed to us. I refer, of course, to Abraham Lincoln.

Aside from the grossly misnamed “Emancipation Proclamation,” which “emancipated” not a single slave – it applied only to the Confederacy, and areas under CSA control, in which Mr. Lincoln’s writ did not run, and specifically excluded all areas (including those slave states which had remained in the Union, and also formerly Confederate areas then under Union occupation) in which it did – Lincoln is best-known for his “Gettysburg Address,” in which he claims, inter alia, that

“Fourscore and seven years ago, our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new Nation.”

In point of fact, of course, eighty-seven years prior to his 1863 Address, our Founding Fathers declared, in the Declaration of Independence, that “these United Colonies are, and by right ought to be, free and independent States.” Plural. That is something rather different. But of course Lincoln, frontier lawyer that he was, was never one to let truth get in the way of a good line!

He also piously proclaimed that this new Nation (first an alliance, then a Confederacy, and only later a Federal Union: now, arguably, not even so much as that) was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” True, as far as it goes. But as one commentator has noted, it is interesting – and significant – that he did not follow that thought to its conclusion, in the Declaration, which includes these words:

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and institute a new Government.”

The reason he did not point this out is obvious; but that he made the reference at all is indicative of the fact that he expected that, even then, not to many of his hearers would be familiar enough with our founding documents to make the connection. He was undoubtedly right, as his words – and not the full quote from the Declaration – have been slavishly repeated, ad nauseam, down through the 150+ years since he made that Address. And given the state of education, currently, there are even fewer now who would make it.

Thus me pointing it out!

He also made, in this Address, the outrageous claim that the War Between the States – the War of Northern Aggression, erroneously called by him (and again, echoed since) the “Civil War” (1) – was fought “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. As H.L. Mencken was later to accurately point out,

“The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost child-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to one graceful and irresistible gesture. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it.  Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — ‘that government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.

“What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country — and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.”

As the commentator noted above (whose whole essay is well worth a read) points out, “The states that left the Union to join the Confederacy did so in the true sense of the Jeffersonian principle of self-government, as stated in the Declaration. Lincoln’s invasion of the Confederate States stood that idea on its head.” And of course, “Representative democracy would have continued in the Union and in the Confederacy regardless of the outcome” of the War.

Far from preserving liberty, equality, or representative government, the precedent set – of control and domination over the States by the central, Federal government in Washington, D.C. – by that terrible War, which killed half a million Americans entirely without need (2), continues to echo down through the ages, to our detriment.

This is what you are celebrating, if you choose to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday.

Please – think about it.


1)  A civil war is one fought between two or more factions for control of the central government. The Confederacy had no desire to run the Union! It merely wished to withdraw from it, and to enjoy the freedom to work out its own destiny in peace.

2)  The ending of slavery was emphatically, and by Lincoln’s own admission, not the aim of the War, and even if it had been, is it logical that the U.S., alone among the nations of the world, needed a horrific and destructive war to end an institution all the others ended peacefully?

 

Why I am a Jeffersonian, part 2!

Screenshot_2020-02-02 (2) Tara Ross - Posts

Source: Tara Ross | Facebook

“On this day in 1816, Thomas Jefferson writes a letter to a friend. He speaks of the need to keep power separated between the national and state governments. Such a division of labor, Jefferson notes, protects liberty.

“Perhaps it would also help the country to be less angry at each other? Consider that if Texas and California don’t have to agree on everything, then there is less cause for upset. Each state can simply make its own decisions and live its own way.”

My goodness, what a radical concept….! Here is a fuller expression of the theme, from Mr. Jefferson:

“[T]he way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police… What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.”

 

Jefferson vs Hamilton, and why I am a Jeffersonian

Source: Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution–and What It Means for Americans Today | Amazon.com

Reasons for my preference for Jefferson over Hamilton, aside from the former’s primary authorship of the Declaration of Independence, and his agrarian ideal:

“While Jefferson is better remembered today, it is actually Hamilton’s political legacy that has triumphed – a legacy that has subverted the Constitution and transformed the federal government into the very leviathan state that our forefathers fought against in the American Revolution. How did we go from the Jeffersonian ideal of limited government to the bloated imperialist system of Hamilton’s design?

“Acclaimed economic historian Thomas J. DiLorenzo reveals how Hamilton, first as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later as the nation’s first and most influential treasury secretary, masterfully promoted an agenda of nationalist glory and interventionist economics. These core beliefs did not die with Hamilton in his fatal duel with Aaron Burr, but were carried on through his political heirs.

“The Hamiltonian legacy wrested control into the hands of the federal government by inventing the myth of the Constitution’s “implied powers,” transforming state governments from Jeffersonian bulwarks of liberty to beggars for federal crumbs. It also devised a national banking system that imposes boom-and-bust cycles on the American economy; saddled Americans with a massive national debt and oppressive taxation, and pushed economic policies that lined the pockets of the wealthy and created a government system built on graft, spoils, and patronage.”

Other than that, not a bad system… *ironic smile*

 

Thomas Sowell on equal rights vs identity-group “rights”

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Thomas Sowell is an American economist and social theorist who is currently a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Attorney General William P. Barr’s Remarks to the Law School at the University of Notre Dame | Department of Justice

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Source: Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame | OPA | Department of Justice

“By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition. These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

“Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large. No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity…

“In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles…

“The problem [in our contemporary society] is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith…

“This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

“We must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.

“I can assure you that, as long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort, ready to fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.”

This is absolutely magnificent. And these are only a few excerpts: read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! I did not really have much of an opinion on Attorney General Barr prior to this speech; but now I admire him greatly. Well said, sir! Well said.

Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

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Gunston Hall, with its gardens, and boxwoods lining the walk down to the River. (From the linked article.)

The years when these boxwood sent their roots into the Virginia soil were the years the American republic took root on these shores.

Source: Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

“George Mason, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, was happiest at home, either in the fields and woods, with a good book by the hearth, or entertaining neighbors and family. Living close to the soil, time was measured by the rhythms of nature. The flow of the seasons brought different activities: planting and harvesting, fishing and hunting, visiting neighbors in winter, and strolling through the gardens in summer. There was time for church, social gatherings, dances and parties, especially during the Christmas season. All took place in the community and around the home… Traditions ran deep, with kith and kin close by and entertainments mostly homemade.”

This would be my ideal life! I cannot conceive of a better. True, today we have advances like indoor plumbing, air conditioning (!), and advanced medicine (although the way it is organized, distributed, and administered has plenty of room for improvement); but was it really necessary to give up graciousness, in exchange for these benefits? I wonder, I truly do…

In any case:

“… for George Mason, home was Gunston Hall in Fairfax County, Virginia. … Mason and many of his contemporaries loved to experiment with plants and took pride in their gardens. Gunston Hall was noted for the beautiful English boxwood that lined the walk from the house to a beautiful view of the Potomac River…

“Visitors such as Washington, Jefferson, and other patriots, neighbors and family, walked down the garden paths, and guided by the boxwood, took in the vista of the distant Potomac River, the artery of trade in this region. As children played, talk of domestic concerns and the nature of American rights and liberties was heard on these grounds…

“Now the boxwood have fallen on hard times and the decision has been made to dig them up. Experts believe that at 230 years old, the plants may be at the end of their natural life. The boxwood was planted amidst such hope, as the Colonies won their independence, and went about the process of protecting their hard won liberties. Perhaps the boxwood just does not understand how a country with so much promise could go so far astray. Nor would George Mason.”

This is barely to scratch the surface of this excellent essay, which uses the boxwood of Gunston Hall as the backdrop for a tale of the rise and fall of the America our Founders intended: – ’tis a mere appetizer, to entice one to the feast. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! But this I will say, if the above is not sufficient enticement: might the imminent demise of Gunston Hall’s boxwood, beautiful as they have been for more than two centuries, be an emblem of the demise of other things, just as old – but things of much deeper import…? Again, I wonder!