Democrats took control of the Virginia legislature after elections in November. The new legislative session kicked off Jan. 8, which means the party hasn’t been in power for even a month. Yet already, a terror-stricken Jerry Falwell Jr. is ready to flee the Old Dominion.
Falwell, son of the late Moral Majority founder the Rev. Jerry Falwell, appeared in West Virginia recently alongside that state’s governor, Republican Jim Justice, to announce a hare-brained scheme to convince several Virginia counties to secede and join West Virginia.
“Many counties [in Virginia] are taking a long hard look at escaping the barbaric, totalitarian and corrupt Democratic regime that is trampling on individual rights throughout the state,” Falwell said.
Justice joined in, adding, “If you’re not truly happy where you are, we stand with open arms to take you from Virginia or anywhere where you may be. We stand strongly behind the Second Amendment, and we stand strongly for the unborn.”
What are those barbaric and totalitarian measures of which Falwell speaks? Well, so far, the Virginia legislature has ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, acted to shore up abortion rights and approved some gun control measures. It’s also moving to pass some bills advancing LGBTQ rights.
Falwell admits that the plan, dubbed “vexit,” faces long odds – and even some Republicans say he’s wasting his time. Sen. Emmett Hanger, whose district includes portions of five central Virginia counties, asked, “What are they doing, a comedy routine?”
And as much as Falwell complains about totalitarianism, it’s likely that what’s really bothering him is his bottom line. Falwell now runs Liberty University, the school founded by his father. Liberty, based in Lynchburg, has raked in a lot of money by enrolling online students. Of its total enrollment of 110,000 students, more than 94,000 are studying online.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has proposed a budget that cuts Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG) aid for online students. Northam wants to boost VTAG aid – but only for students attending brick-and-mortar schools. About 2,000 of Liberty’s online students are Virginia residents, and Falwell wants to keep the government aid flowing to them.
Regardless of his motivations, Falwell has an option open to him: He can move to West Virginia on his own without trying to drag parts of Virginia with him. Chances are, a lot Virginians wouldn’t shed any tears over his “fexit.”
Photo: Falwell (l) and Justice. Screenshot from video, West Virginia governor's office.