West Virginia lawmakers are scrambling to let rural Virginia counties join the Mountain State amid conservative voter anger with the new Democratic majority in Richmond and its push for gun control and other liberal initiatives.
In a building fight that echoes the Civil War-era split of the Old Dominion that created West Virginia in 1863, 40 of 100 West Virginia House delegates have signed on to legislation that would accept revolting Virginia counties and towns.
The effort began after the November elections when urban and suburban voters put the Virginia General Assembly into Democratic hands. Many of those Democrats ran on a platform of restricting and banning guns.
“We’re starting to get some phone calls from friends on the border who say these folks want to leave,” said West Virginia Del. Gary Howell.
Howell, a Republican, told Secrets that what started off as a long-shot effort “has turned into a real thing.”
He said that Virginia lawmakers and officials along the West Virginia border have cited the Democratic drive for gun control and desire to shift spending to the urban areas near Washington as reasons to leave for West Virginia.
In his bill, HCR 8, Howell and his team wrote about the urban-rural battle: “These tensions have been compounded by a perception of contempt on the part of the government at Richmond for the differences in certain fundamental political and societal principles which prevail between the varied counties and cities of that Commonwealth.”
He also cited gun control, a huge fight on display in Richmond Monday when some 22,000 gun owners protested restrictions sweeping through the state Senate. There is no new push for gun control in West Virginia.
Note that Gary Howell cites the “urban-rural battle” that I’ve mentioned before in these virtual pages.
The thing here is this: A secession into a neighboring state might be the best thing for everyone concerned here, and it could certainly set an interesting precedence. This move would relieve some pressure on Richmond, where the state government is increasingly blue, driven by the huge NoVa enclave of Imperial workers, who tend to see government and more government as the cure to all that ails us. It would make the pro-gun folks in the western counties happier, and would increase West Virginia’s tax base and Congressional influence.
Now apply that to some other places.
What about our own Colorado? Say some of the northeastern counties joined Wyoming or Nebraska?
What if the southeastern California counties moved to join Arizona? Or the northernmost ones and some on southern Oregon realized their goal of a State of Jefferson?
What if eastern Washington seceded and joined Idaho?
People can vote with their feet. But moving or not moving isn’t the point; people should also be able to choose the government that suits them. Bear in mind this would exacerbate the “urban-rural battle” in some ways, by redrawing state lines that would exaggerate those divides even further, because, as you may have noticed, the examples I cite mostly involve rural areas separating from urban ones.
Maybe this time we’ll be able to have our secession a little more peaceably, since no one is (yet) agitating to start a whole new nation.