If treated like another state, why not become one?


By Peter Thomson

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Soon the midterm elections will be over. The Raleigh folks can take their files on the issues of the East, you know, about expanding Medicaid, helping rural hospitals, toughening environmental protection laws, having investigations into sea rise and climate change, building the Mid-Currituck Bridge, funding rural schools, making certain folks east of I-95 have affordable broadband — they can take all those wants and needs, and put them in the back of a large file cabinet, not to be taken out until the next election.

Then out of the front of that same cabinet, they can pull out their big folders of plans to increase wealth and jobs in the center of the state, the same place where 95 percent of the jobs have been created in the last 10 years. Down Easters can grumble, but seemingly, not make a dent in the process: we just don’t have the population numbers to change things.

Here, some have made what they term a modest proposal for change, a simple way to have more attention paid to this part of the state. They believe that this may be the time for East Carolina to secede; to leave and form the great state of well … East Carolina.

Heck, no cartographers would be needed; the borders have already been drawn. We’d be south of Virginia, north of South Carolina and east of I-95. That highway seems to be the dividing line for the present legislature anyway; we’d just co-opt it as our western border. East Carolina would be bigger than Rhode Island, more populous than Wyoming, have strong agricultural and tourism industries and a capital, New Bern, which already sports a historic hall ready and waiting for delegates.

Becoming the 51st state would permit us to ask the feds for what we need rather than get what Raleigh says we need. Our new East Carolina legislators, concerned only with a population with common interests and goals, could get the Medicaid money that Raleigh spurns and help out our local hospitals.

With restrictions lifted on education we could allow teachers to teach to learn, rather than teach to test. Counties would have the ability to levy certain kinds of taxes, because they know what they need locally and at what level business would be pushed away.

As far as a constitution goes, well, we’ll take the North Carolina Constitution, which is pretty darn good (although we might lose some late amendments), put in a few “Easts” here and there, and we’d be good.

Our state bird would be the osprey. Our state food would be the soft shell crab. Our state sandwich? Vinegar-based pulled-pork. State dog? Golden retriever. State tree? Juniper. Summer capital? Wrightsville Beach.

And we’d look after our beautiful countryside, because we know how valuable it is. Eastern North Carolina would never be a dump for fracking material, coal ash, or other people’s garbage. We’d look to develop alternative energy sources, keeping in mind the traditional livelihoods and trying to maximize our best agricultural land. Our major cities — Wilmington and Greenville — are still small enough that we could avoid some of the urban problems that plague bigger cities, while our other smaller towns would become big fish in a small pond.

Some have been asked what North Carolina legislators would do when they find out that we want to become independent: They fear the National Guard being called out, violence in the streets, and clashes between civilians and military. Well, they reply, based on past history, we’ve got a year and a half before they’ll notice we’re gone.

Peter Thomson is a resident of Elizabeth City.