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.
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…