A small group of western Marylanders are pursuing a quixotic secessionist movement that would see the state’s four western counties break away and form a new state. Led by Scott Strzelczyk, the secessionists argue Maryland is controlled by a single party and by folks elected from three jurisdictions: Baltimore, Montgomery County and Prince Georges County. Everyone else, they say, is being ignored.
Given that western Maryland is overwhelmingly white and rural, some have been quick to dismiss the secessionist movement as a race-based action motivated by white voters fearful of growing diversity in the state. Though such arguments may hold a kernel of truth, they obscure the more fundamental cause for these movements in Maryland and elsewhere. These intra-state movements are driven by a complex mix of issues that go to the very heart of a representative democracy.
It’s important to understand that what’s happening in Maryland is not unique to the state or the region. For decades, there has been a secessionist movement on the Eastern Shore. The movement’s strength ebbs and flows, much like the tides that surround the region. Proposals for a new state date back to the 1830s. In 1998, legislation was introduced that would have put the question of Eastern Shore secession on the ballot. Eastern Shore secessionists argue the region is not well represented in Annapolis, that tax dollars generated by tourists are not appropriately reinvested in the area and that transportation money consistently directed elsewhere.
In Colorado multiple rural counties have pursued secession in an effort to create one or more new states. Movement organizers, including elected officials from the secessionist counties, argue that their interests are not being represented in a state legislature dominated by officials from more suburban and urban counties. Recent gun control legislation as well as new renewable energy standards placed on electric cooperatives (common in rural areas) have bolstered the movement.
Lest you think the secession movements are all the result of disgruntled conservatives, understand that disgruntled liberals are looking to secession as well. As recently as 2008 and again in 2012, Democratic officials in southern Florida sought to separate from the Republican rest of the state. And liberals in southern Arizona, frustrated by Republican dominance in the state capital, have pursued secession as well.
And these are just a selection of the intra-state secession movements active in the United States today. It’s important to understand that intra-state secession movements are quite different from the secession movements seeking to separate from the United States altogether. Intra-state secessionist are not disillusioned with the United States, rather they are frustrated by a political system that they believe to be ignoring them. And the reality is, they probably are being ignored.
[Continue reading Todd Eberly’s post at The FreeStater Blog.]
Todd Eberly blogs at The FreeStaterBlog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.