West Virginia’s Senate recently passed a resolution to remind the citizens of Frederick County, Virginia, that since West Virginia was formed in 1862, Frederick County has had a standing invitation to become part of the state of West Virginia. Times being as they are, there is now talk in some Virginia localities about demanding ballot referendums in November allowing them to become part of the state of West Virginia – a “Vexit” if you will.
West Virginia’s resolution states in part, “We extend an invitation to our fellow Virginians to join us in our noble experiment of 156 years of separation from the government at Richmond; and we hereby covenant that their many grievances shall be addressed, and, we further covenant with them that their firearms rights shall be protected to the fullest extent possible under our federal and state constitutions.”
Virginia’s transition to Democratic governance, and their attendant progressive gun-control and social agenda, has provided “legs” to this issue for many in the valley. As a moderate conservative and libertarian, I am both a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and limited government, but I never advocate over-reacting when a measured response makes more sense. I do not believe that a modern-day secession is a reasonable remedy for settling political differences.
Despite my position not to “secede,” I am profoundly disappointed that once the Democratic Party gained control of the legislature in 2020 some of their landmark “achievements” were legalizing casinos and the decriminalization of marijuana. In addition, it will now be up to cities and counties what to do with statues of Confederate soldiers. They will no longer be required to get approval from the state to remove them.
A commission will also be appointed to look at removing the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee representing Virginia in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. If the commission decides to remove it to atone for the sins of our forefathers, they will also decide upon a replacement — Pocahontas perhaps?
In addition, Gov. Northam has signed into law House Bill 1514 and Senate Bill 50 that state “people cannot be discriminated against based on their hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks and twists.” This law is very poorly written and unnecessary, but rest assured your hard-won tax dollars are at work in Richmond in furthering a trifling progressive social agenda and re-writing history.
There are currently advocates for another “Vexit” option where rural counties would split from northern Virginia as allowed under Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. This action would create a new 51st state of Virginia with its own state government and representatives to Congress. If a new state is to be formed out of two existing states, then both affected state legislatures and Congress must consent – I doubt if the current Virginia state legislature would approve!
Strictly from a practical standpoint, Vexit would be ill-advised. West Virginia ranks in the lower percentiles in critical quality-of-life issues such as health care and education – ranking 48 in health care and 44 in education respectively. Per U.S. News and World Report, West Virginia’s economy in 2019 ranked dead last at 50. West Virginia’s economy has depended so heavily on its mineral resources that declining coal production and low energy prices in recent years have seriously hurt the state.
Virginia is a national leader in these and other categories. And even if we were to become West Virginians or establish a 51st state, it would be no cure-all for the current political discord. For those like me who are not happy with the state of affairs in Richmond, the solution is to vote the rascals out of office and elect Constitutional Republicans who support our valley values.
As a young child I was taught that to be a Virginian is “… an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from Almighty God.” My Cavalier ancestors defeated tyranny at Yorktown, and I am prepared to meet it again right here – at home, in the Old Dominion. I will never turn my back on the land I love.
James R. Poplar III, of Quicksburg, proudly served with the U.S. government for over 40 years. He specialized in national security affairs at both Vanderbilt and the National Defense University.