Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's the Matter with Virginia?

Took the short people to Williamsburg, Virginia the other weekend. For so much of American history in the colonial and post-colonial era, Virginia was the wealthiest and most powerful state. More Presidents have been born in Virginia than any other state. Four of the first five Presidents were born in Virginia.

But now, the state has little in terms of national power. It does not have a metropolitan area capable of supporting a sports team in any sport -- heck, even Buffalo and Oklahoma City have sports teams. Why has Virginia faded?

True, about a third of its land was taken away when West Virginia was formed, but it's not like West Virginia had the resources that makes it a real player (what it does have Robert Byrd imported to it). Yes, it was powerful when the U.S. was an agrarian society while the north had a head start in industrializing, but there are any number of of post-industrialization power centers in the country. Yes, it suffered during and after the Civil War, but so did Atlanta.

So, why is Virginia no longer the player it was in American politics?