HEADlines: Our Cracked Country

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, September 26, 2020.

Two teens stood across from my book table at a national event. 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 annexation to West Virginia will find a communion of spirit in Oregon, some of whose voters want to become part of Idaho. And California also has its own initiatives brewing. But those efforts aren’t about becoming part of an existing state. There are calls to split into multiple statesor even leave the United States altogether and become a separate nation.

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 in 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.

Even the bluing state of Texas could end up splitting over voter ideology.

While 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 throughout gestation?

Would cities’ leaders moderate some of their views to stem the tide of departure (and lost revenues)? Would rural folks bend? Can both sides occupy a middle ground for long?

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.

And there seems to be no room to bend among those who insist our abortion laws continue to go far beyond those of European countries that limit the procedure. The US is one of only seven countries that allows abortion after 20 weeks.

Secession and state-splitting sound far-fetched. But perhaps we are closer to making such dividing lines than we realize.

In American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup, F.H. Buckley writes:

“[W]e are now facing another constitutional crisis, as we did in the 1850s, when Congress was unable to compromise on slavery or avert the impending civil war. Today again, changes that must be made seemingly can’t be made because of our divisions and failure to compromise. The Constitution was designed for another country, one in which people agreed on fundamental principles, and that’s not today’s America. We are divided on things that used to unite us, and we don’t like politicians who compromise on things we care about.”

Explaining that the framers assumed secession was permissible (“by the consent of the governed“), Buckley lays out the arguments the Constitution’s crafters made as they shaped the document different factions today see either as pliable or etched in stone. It cannot be both.

He makes the case that California, for example, if it seceded, would save “$103 billion … [paid] in federal taxes [more] than it receive[s] back from Washington” and, therefore, should be able to pay for its plethora of social programs. He notes later that California has never had a majority wanting to secede.

But that may change as the middle class continues to flee the Golden State. It also remains to be seen whether $103 billion in extra revenues could truly create the entitlement utopia its leaders seek to create.

Even with such efforts and proposals on the table in multiple places, it may still be hard to imagine the fracturing of states or an actual secession attempt. But here’s part of what goodreads.com says about Buckley’s discussion:

“Across the world, large countries are staring down secession movements. Many have already split apart. Do we imagine that we, almost alone in the world, are immune? We had a civil war to prevent a secession, and we’re tempted to see that terrible precedent as proof against another effort. This book explodes that comforting belief and shows just how easy it would be for a state to exit the Union if that’s what its voters wanted.

“But if that isn’t what we really want, Buckley proposes another option, a kind of Secession Lite, that could heal our divisions while allowing us to keep our identity as Americans.”

Secession Lite would require a live and let live mentality. And just that option is under consideration in the state of New York. Conservatives in that state have introduced bills in the state house and senate that would divide the Empire State into three regions—New Amsterdam, upstate New York; New York; Manhattan and the five boroughs; and the Montauk Region, Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland.

Chris Enloe writes:

“’New Amsterdam & Montauk regional governments would have the power to repeal these unnecessary NYS regulations and bad laws that are killing jobs,’ Divide New York State Caucus explains, [Gannett journalist Julie] Sherwood reported. ‘While the New York regional government could enact those changes it wants for NYC only that upstate currently blocks.’”

The bill remains in committee. But if it passes, it won’t need approval from the US Congress as it would if it were proposing splitting New York into separate states.

Perhaps Buckley has found a philosophical mean that could ensure freedom of conscience. For example, freedom for children to openly pray in schools governed locally. Freedom for municipalities to respect life, if they choose. Freedom for pharmacists to refuse to provide the means for chemical abortion. And that could only happen if the Supreme Court—whose membership is a new battleground for our day—will refrain from dictating what must be for the whole country.

The ideas of secession, state splitting, and regional secession light sound crazy. Buckley tells us they’re not. They or some form of them are real and on the way.

The unprecedented is what we’re experiencing in 2020. Our divided house hovers over a chasm of chaos. And chaos will continue unless we find a Golden Mean of citizenship we can agree on—or navigate how to go our separate ways.

Photo Credit: NASA (Unsplash)

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cracked Justice

“In dictatorships you need courage to fight evil; in the free world you need courage to see evil.”
Nathan Sharansky~

In the summer of 2020, we have watched as rioters beat people and destroyed property in America’s biggest cities.

Often local officials have looked the other way or downplayed the seriousness of events that, until recently, were more often found in war zones than in American cities.

Law and order sometimes seem like Wyatt Earp and his fellows bringing peace to Tombstone–something of the past.

Twenty-twenty has brought remarkable challenges. But the issues our cities face didn’t just come to the forefront this year.

In at least one Pennsylvania city, law and order were lacking before this past January 1.

In 2019, the state legislature bestowed authority for prosecuting crimes in the City of Brotherly Love–Philadelphia–on the state Attorney General. The Democrat governor signed the bill. The legislature acted because the Philadelphia district attorney refused to prosecute certain crimes–both gun and drug-related.

The Intercept reports: “The maneuver by Pennsylvania lawmakers is the most significant legislative pushback to date against the new movement by criminal justice reformers to focus on seizing the power of the prosecutor, rather than hunkering down as public defenders or lawmakers. One of the key powers of a prosecutor is to decide when to bring charges and, critically, when not to. The new law means that even if [Philadelphia DA] Krasner decides to exercise the latter power and not bring charges, the police could go directly to the attorney general to pursue the case regardless.”

That sounds like a great plan except when the state’s highest prosecutor, Josh Shapiro in this case, is on board with the district attorney who won’t prosecute, Krasner.

Shapiro’s reaction to the bill?

“I didn’t seek this law and I didn’t advocate for it … And it doesn’t change anything.”

Shapiro further commented that he would seek repeal of the law.

Shapiro aspires to be the Keystone State’s next governor and eventually President of the US, so he crisscrosses the state showing up for drug busts to further the impression that he actually is a law and order kind of guy.

In the meantime, he’s also taken the time to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor who refuse to provide abortion and contraceptive coverage to their employees.

Perhaps he can’t take the time to notice the Philadelphia murder rate is soaring.

And for whatever reason, most media have beat the drum about drug busts but ignored Shapiro suing the sisters and rebuking the legislature and governor over his new powers to prosecute in the state’s biggest city.

The situation that produced the new law apparently isn’t limited to Pennsylvania. There is no shortage of prosecutors failing to prosecute those in great need of prosecution.

I’m not sure which voting block is disinterested in increasing homicide rates in big cities.

The people living in our cities need law enforcement to do its job–to protect and preserve human lives.

No society can stand in the face of chaos and murder.

America will not be an exception.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No Brotherly Love in Philadelphia

“True it is, They that are born of the flesh, hate and persecute them that are born of the spirit.” William Penn, Chapter One, VII~
His statue stands atop the great structure in the center of Philadelphia–City Hall. William Penn understood what many of us are just figuring out. The world will never understand nor appreciate our deeply held, uncompromising convictions.
And their disdain for our views trumps even the appearance of compassion. A voice of false compassion casts aside victims unrelated to its intended target.
The Daily Signal reports that days after making an urgent plea on behalf of 300 homeless orphans of the opioid crisis, Philadelphia ended its placement relationship with Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services. Because those agencies hold Christian convictions and will not place children with unmarried or LGBT couples, they can no longer place children at all.
In the Keystone State in 2015, more than half of the 16,000 kids in foster care had been removed from their homes because of “parental drug use.” Philadelphia ranks second in deaths by overdose out of 44 counties in the US with populations greater than one million.
The need is indeed great, and there are many, but not enough, ways to meet it. Continue reading “No Brotherly Love in Philadelphia”