- - Monday, February 24, 2020

Last week, Nigel Farage told students at Liberty University that he spent 27 years fighting for the United Kingdom to leave the increasingly out-of-touch, bureaucratic European Union.

“If local people want to make changes and change their structure of government, they should be able to do so,” he said when asked for his thoughts about recent proposals for Virginia counties to leave for West Virginia — otherwise known as Vexit .

While I have said that Vexit is a longshot, we may not have to wait an arduous 27 years to win this battle. I say this in full confidence because I know what makes up the heart and soul of Virginians and what they wouldn’t do to fight for their long-standing values.

As far back as the 1600s, the love of freedom and common-sense thinking found in Virginia drew my family to cross the Atlantic and settle in the commonwealth. By the early 1800s, my great-great-great-grandfather operated stagecoach lines alongside Virginia’s governor, and in the early 1900s my grandfather ran numerous businesses in the region — from bus lines to hotels, dance halls and gas stations. Only in recent years did my father found a nationally renowned church and the largest Christian university in America — both located in the beautiful Virginia mountains.

Needless to say, my family’s Virginia roots run deep. It’s why we share the same sentiment of the thousands of Virginians who are disturbed by all that’s currently taking place in Richmond at the hands of the legislature and Gov. Ralph Northam.

A pile of scandals over the past two years have not kept Virginia Democrats from winning control of every statewide elected office and both chambers of the Legislature. Like a toddler cramming a plate of cookies in his mouth before anyone sensible can take the goodies away, they are frantically using their power to strip away the God-given rights held by every person in the state.

For starters, their proposed legislation includes bills that would: confiscate firearms, curtail Second Amendment rights, legalize infanticide, give in-state college tuition for undocumented students, outlaw militias, install new environmental regulations to stifle the very economic growth that President Trump has created and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, 41 years after the national deadline.

Hitting closer to home, the governor’s recent budget proposed eliminating student aid for thousands of online students — a plan that would adversely affect minority, lower-income and military students the most.

The assault on individual liberties in Virginia has drawn attention to the fluid border we share with West Virginia, ever since its formation during the U.S. Civil War. The opportunity for counties in Virginia to join the ranks of those in West Virginia existed during those difficult days, and it has remained an option and open invitation to this day.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and I were proud to champion a resolution currently moving through the West Virginia House that would roll out the welcome mat for freedom-loving Virginia counties to become part of the great State of West Virginia during a press conference last month. We spoke about the rich history and longstanding shared values of Virginians and West Virginians alike and encouraged them to take a stand alongside us.

More and more Virginians are finding West Virginia’s “welcome” sign enticing, as their individual and constitutional rights are being trampled on. Since our press conference, numerous counties are looking to add Vexit to their election ballots this fall, and petition signatures are being gathered at a rapid pace.

The sentiment is becoming contagious nationwide. On Thursday, The Washington Times reported that “separation fever is sweeping the nation as quixotic but tenacious bands of frustrated rural dwellers, suburbanites and conservatives seek to break free from states with legislatures increasingly controlled by liberal big cities and metropolitan strongholds,” noting that at least five states are currently experiencing exit campaigns of their own.

Though Virginia Democrats are trying to paint the idea as “preposterous,” many lawmakers see a feasible path. As Rick Boyer, a Virginia attorney and former local elected official, said, “This isn’t street theater, we fully intend to do everything we can to see it through.”

Most importantly, Virginia conservatives are rising up in protest, not unlike the populist sentiment that got Donald Trump elected in 2016 and propelled Brexit to victory after a decades-long battle.

Last month, month 20,000 Second Amendment supporters rallied peacefully in Richmond against Mr. Northam’s unconstitutional policies. If the response to the call for Vexit is any sign, we should expect concerned patriots to show up in record numbers at the polls in November.

The timing could not be more critical, as Democrats running for president have veered to the extreme left out of their hatred for President Trump, proposing gun confiscation, “free” health care for all, including illegal immigrants, the Green New Deal that will cripple our economy, and the elimination of all fossil fuels.

As far-left extremists like Bernie Sanders shove centrist Democrats out of their party and demand ideological purity, we can expect a large number of American patriots to rise and join the fight to defend the unprecedented infringement of their rights being imposed on them in Virginia and across the country. Many families, including my own, will harken back to our founding principles in the Commonwealth of Virginia as we join the growing chorus of voters who will demand: “Vexit now.”

• Jerry Falwell Jr. is the president of Liberty University and co-founder of the Falkirk Center.

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