The two teens stood across from me at the March for Life Expo in January. They weren’t yet old enough to vote. But perhaps when they are, they’ll cast their ballots to excise their part of Virginia to make it part of West Virginia–a harkening back to our Civil War. (Or our first Civil War?)
They are frustrated by legislators from the northern part of the state threatening to limit gun ownership and having voted to expand “abortion rights” more broadly than all but a few places around the world.
They are not alone in that way of thinking. Those hoping for Southern Virginia’s secession to West Virginia have company in Oregon, some of whose voters want to become part of Idaho. California also has its own initiative brewing. But that effort isn’t pushing to become part of an existing state. The plan calls for the establishment of the 51st state–New California.
Imagine what these efforts–if successful–might lead to.
Political pundits speak of the conservative part of my own Pennsylvania in terms of the T across the north and through the center with Philadelphia in the east and Pittsburgh in the west–although Pittsburgh sometimes joins the T.
The T carried our Keystone State for Trump in 2016–even the heavily Democratic Cambria County–coal country.
If voters in the T decided to follow suit with southern Virginia voters, the bulk of Pennsylvania might also join West Virginia–or ally with rural voters in New York to form a 52nd state.
Even the bluing state of Texas could end up splitting over voter ideology.
It sounds far-fetched. But perhaps we are closer to making such dividing lines than we realize.
Rural voters want to keep their guns. On farms or in nearby forests, guns have practical purposes completely unrelated to crime and unfathomable to many city-dwellers.
Conservative and liberal voters can only remain at an impasse over abortion. Room for compromise on this issue is scant because the unborn one either lives or dies. There is no state of in-between.
While these proposals for state-splitting are still in their infancy–or perhaps in their early childhood–it seems a good time to consider some of the ramifications.
For example, would Philadelphia decide to become part of New Jersey? Could Jersey support the costs of the City of Brotherly Love that rural PA taxpayers have helped to bear for decades?
What if the rural/conservative voters of every state thought it best to cut themselves free from every city that wanted to limit guns and fund abortions at any time during gestation?
Would cities’ leaders moderate some of their views to stem the traffic moving to a new place? Would rural folks bend? Can both sides occupy a middle ground for long?
Beyond the disputes over abortion, gun control, and other divisive pursuits, both city and countryside struggle with opioid addiction, isolation, loss of purpose.
The answer is the same whether in unity or division. Shining light into the darkness. The darker the night, the easier it is to perceive the light.
Shine your light while you can. Where you can. All you can.