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All Aboard the Secession Train

We seem to have found a new fad where people in rural areas of a state decide that they want to secede and form their own state. There’s a group in Northern California trying it, another in Northern Colorado and now one in Western Maryland (there’s also allegedly one in Michigan, but no one here seems to have heard about it).

West Virginia was the last state to break off from another. Now, 150 years later, a 49-year-old information technology consultant wants to apply the knife to Maryland’s five western counties. “The people are the sovereign,” says Scott Strzelczyk, leader of the fledgling Western Maryland Initiative, and the western sovereigns are fed up with Annapolis’s liberal majority, elected by the state’s other sovereigns.

“If you think you have a long list of grievances and it’s been going on for decades, and you can’t get it resolved, ultimately this is what you have to do,” says Strzelczyk, who lives in New Windsor, a historic town of 1,400 people in Carroll County. “Otherwise you are trapped.”

It isn’t going to work, of course. Doing so would require that the state legislature vote to allow it and Congress would then have to do so as well. Good luck with that. But to be honest, I’m all for it. I think Northern Colorado, Northern California and Western Maryland should be allowed to form their own states. And then I think a bunch of people within those new states should declare that they’re going to secede from that one. Every time they disagree with what the state does, they should form their own state. Pretty soon people will realize how childish it is to stamp your feet, take your ball and go home.

Comments

  1. says

    The one in Colorado has already been informally named “Fracktopia,” which is a good indicator of whose interests are really served by such political fragmentation.

  2. says

    It’s all about persecution complex. Most of these breakaways are rural communities in Democratic-majority states. Their complaints sound decent (a centralized government not paying attention to the needs of the rural community) but when you break it down its about two things:

    a) Guns
    b) Gay Rights

  3. alanb says

    If I could form a state consisting of my house then I would have 3 electoral votes and all the Presidential candidates would have to come here and bribe campaign for my vote.

  4. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Ahh, good old Western Maryland. Gorgeous scenery, and cranks refusing to allow fluoride in the drinking water. And what would be the capital? Cumberland? The town of 6 city blocks and a Roy Rogers?

  5. colnago80 says

    There is a suggestion that makes a lot of sense, namely split off Northern Virginia from the rest of the state. Us folks in Northern Virginia get the shaft relative to expenditures of taxes where only 30% of the state taxes collected in Northern Virginia are spent there. In addition, residents of Northern Virginia are discriminated against relative to admissions to UVA and VPU, the prestige schools in the Old Dominion, in the name of geographic distribution, despite the fact that the best high schools in the state are located in Arlington Co., Fairfax Co., and the City of Falls Church. Heck, even Raging Bee could get behind that one.

  6. Childermass says

    What do you mean that no one has heard of the one in Michigan?

    Sure the state of Superior is a stupid idea promoted by some Yoopers and on occasion a few bordering Wisconsin counties bordering them as well. In the early 1980s, my geometry teacher had a poster for it (or maybe it was just a posted bumper sticker) in his classroom. No one who has ever lived in the U.P. could possibly be unaware of it as blowhards have been promoting this doomed idea since forever it seems.

    It will never happen even ignoring the need for approval from Michigan’s legislature and Congress (and Wisconsin’s legislature for the versions that take some of its territory).

  7. eamick says

    West Virginia’s creation is a special case to boot; after all, it was in the midst of a civil war, so they could pretty much ignore any objections Virginia might have. The last state to be formed from another state under the Constitution was Maine.

  8. ricko says

    Ahh, good old Western Maryland. Gorgeous scenery, and cranks refusing to allow fluoride in the drinking water. And what would be the capital? Cumberland? The town of 6 city blocks and a Roy Rogers?

    It would most likely be Hagerstown. Except, those guys recently elected a Democrat up there, instead of Mr. Bartlett.

    Oooops.

  9. Trebuchet says

    The move for Jefferson State has been around since 1941. There is (used to be?) a regional fair that calls itself the Jefferson State Fair.

    Not to mention the State of Lincoln, which would consist of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

    There’ve similarly been a lot of county separatist movements, especially around 20 years ago, from rural right-wingers wanting to get out from under larger cities they see as taxing them and imposing land use limitations for the benefit of urban (read — non-white) people.

  10. says

    Northern VA is one of the more sensible and liberal areas to talk about secession, so it sounds tempting; but a) I’m not sure anyone would benefit from leaving Richmond with less liberal presence (our fellow liberals in C’ville, Richmond and the Norfolk-Hampton-VA Beach area certainly wouldn’t benefit from it); and b) us rich liberals walking out on the rest of the state sounds like a form of escapism not all that different from letting the less-educated, less-advanced parts of a state walk out on us. Either way, we educatd liberals get to create Elysium while letting “the boondocks” fall into the hands of backward authoritarians — who probably won’t behave any more responsibly than the Taliban or the Iranian mullocrats.

  11. colnago80 says

    Re eamick @ #11

    Hey, don’t you know that the entire Civil War was fought over coal mines in West Virginia? End snark.

  12. colnago80 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #15

    The rednecks south of the Occoquan aren’t going to advocate walking out on the north of the Occoquan portion of the state because, as much as they despise us, they like our tax dollars being spent down there.

    By the way, here’s another example of the kind of thinking in Richmond, and another reason to secede from the rest of the state, namely a proposal being considered to partially privatize UVA.

    http://goo.gl/YuGcz3

  13. dingojack says

    Surely it’s all about preserving precious bodily fluids, or perhaps it’s all about coal –
    hmm maybe we should ask Donikens?
    :) Dingo

  14. Jordan Genso says

    I think one of the driving factors for this movement is to gerrymander the Senate. The conservatives have done such a good job winning more House seats even though they got less votes, that they want that same opportunity in the Senate. So every conservative area in a blue states secedes and forms its own state with two new conservative Senators. That would tip the balance rather quickly.

  15. DBP says

    I live in Western Md. Never heard any secessionist sentiment around here. Mostly just “I gotta move out of the People’s Republic of Maryland bahhhh.” kind of stuff from people who are pissed off that there’s a waiting period for assault rifles.

  16. John Pieret says

    birgerjohansson @ 10

    Can you let the red states near the Canadian border switch over? Monarchy might appeal to them.

    The bigger question is whether we could find a way to force the Canadians to take ‘em.

  17. says

    Of course it’s all about local grievances and has nothing to do with any desire to get two more guaranteed Republican senators per new state, or more Republican electoral votes in the Presidential elections, right?

  18. says

    colnago: The best way to solve that problem is not NVA secession (unless, of course, the NVA National Guard could drop paratroops in to annex C’ville); it’s staying in the VA lege and using our (recently increasing) representation to oppose their backward policies. Fairfax County delivered VA to Obama last year, and we tipped the balance for Tim Kaine too; so the LAST thing anyone needs now is for liberals to fragment ourselves by creating new states.

  19. says

    Simplest solution is grant them a 5 year provisional independence and immediately withdraw all state and federal funds.
    Then remove them from the national grid, impose standard tariffs, and require proper documentation for travel inside and the US

  20. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    Trebuchet beat me to the state of Lincoln. It’s been a nightmare of mine for a long time that it would come to pass- I love the desert climate here in eastern WA but not the politics. I can’t imagine being suddenly stuck in a state built on religious fundamentalists (Mormons, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists) racists, (us vs them with the high population of Mexican immigrants plus the White Supremecists) and generalized right wing nutters.

    Help.

  21. colnago80 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #25

    The problem is that the House of Delegates is so gerrymandered that it will take a long time for Northern Virginia to tip the balance there. In fact, there is no guarantee that the Democratic slate for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General will prevail in November. The havoc that a Governor Cuccinelli and a Lt. Governor Jackson would cause (remember, the State Senate is evenly divided and will probably remain so after November so Jackson would be the deciding vote) is too awful to contemplate. I’m an impatient fellow, I say bite the bullet and secede now!

  22. bushrat says

    @10 As a Canadian how can I term this in a polite and diplomatic manner.

    “Dear birgerjohansson,

    Thank you for your interest in exporting your conservative ‘ahem’ difficulties to us, your northern neighbours. While we sympathize with the frustration you feel at the stubbornness of these individuals, we must respectfully decline your proposal as we are currently trying to disenfranchise ourselves of an overly conservative government and at this time it would be imprudent to increase the overt conservatism of our nation.

    Thanks and best of luck,

    Canada

    PS – We appreciate your interest though.

    If someone could please translate this to American English it would be greatly appreciated.

  23. raven says

    Siskiyou County, California, meh. It’s nowheresville.

    wikipedia:

    While it ranks fifth in area among California counties (and is larger than three U.S. states), with some 6,347 square miles (16,440 km2),[2] it only ranked 44th in population among California’s 58 counties; as of 2000, the population was 44,301.

    44,900 people, 2010. There are a lot of counties in California with over a million people.

    The scenery is spectacularly gorgeous though with Mt. Shasta and countless other features. It’s high enough that the winters are cold and snowy.

    A recent article claimed that the whole area of southern Oregon, far northern California has been struggling for decades. There really isn’t anything there but world class scenery. It’s basically mostly between Portland and Sacramento/San Francisco.

    I like to visit the area a whole lot. A few people I know tried to live there and moved after a few years. Wasn’t much in the way of jobs and the winters were long and cold for the west coast.

  24. raven says

    If someone could please translate this to American English it would be greatly appreciated.

    OK. Canadian to American:

    “Hell no. Keep your crackpots on your side of the border.”

  25. says

    The rednecks south of the Occoquan aren’t going to advocate walking out on the north of the Occoquan portion of the state because, as much as they despise us, they like our tax dollars being spent down there.

    Are you sure they’re even aware of that? The Northern Colorado secessionists are clearly net beneficiaries of tax redistribution, yet they’ve convinced themselves that they’re the ones being robbed. In one article, one of them claimed that the majority of the state’s revenue was coming from their oil and gas wells. I looked it up, and it turns out that roughly 3% of total revenue comes from all mining and extraction activity. Most revenue of course comes from income and sales taxes, which is to say, Denver.

    Long story short, don’t expect rational thought to intrude on something that’s not rational to begin with. These people are too caught up in their self-image as rugged individualists who are being victimized by liberal urbanites to have any clue where their real interests lie.

  26. says

    “Ahh, good old Western Maryland. Gorgeous scenery, and cranks refusing to allow fluoride in the drinking water. And what would be the capital? Cumberland? The town of 6 city blocks and a Roy Rogers?”

    I’ve been to Cumberland recently and I’ll have you know that they have a Wendy’s now.

  27. zero6ix says

    it is nice to see people at least attempt to live up to their own standards. They don’t like America (or their particular state), so they are getting out. The problem is finding a place to go, as moving a large amount of dirt is difficult, and I’m certain other communities would avoid them like plague rats.

  28. Randomfactor says

    California actually did split north/south so that Southern Cal could be pro-slavery. Then that whole “War of Northern Aggression” happened and kinda mooted the whole thing. Or I’d be living right on the border right now.

  29. John Pieret says

    bushrat @ 29

    If someone could please translate this to American English it would be greatly appreciated.

    While Raven @ 32 has given it a try, he’s still being a little too Canadian-polite. I think the proper Canadian to ‘Mercan translation would be:

    “Fuck off!!!!”

  30. blf says

    California actually did split north/south so that Southern Cal could be pro-slavery.

    No, it never did. From the Pffft! of all Knowldge:

    Before statehood, the South strongly pushed for a slave state in Southern California below the 35th parallel north. After the California Constitutional Convention of 1849 applied for statehood in the current boundaries, the South reluctantly acceded to a single, free state in the Compromise of 1850. Proposals for division continued up to the Civil War.

    A somewhat more detailed history of what happened is in Slavery in California.

  31. eric says

    I can see a NoCal/SoCal split, simply because it’s the most populated state. Western Md, though…sorry, your ratio of governed to state governance is already plenty low. If your state legislature doesn’t represent you, it’s because you are cranks, not because the state is too big.

    Now, if they wanted to become part of DupontDelaware, that might make some geopolitical sense. But hate to burst your bubble, that isn’t going to solve your problem with ‘liberal lawmakers.’

  32. illdoittomorrow says

    “If you think you have a long list of grievances and it’s been going on for decades, and you can’t get it resolved, ultimately this is what you have to do,” says Strzelczyk, who lives in New Windsor, a historic town of 1,400 people in Carroll County. “Otherwise you are trapped.”

    I wonder if this guy realizes he’s referring to himself in the second person.

  33. Abby Normal says

    And then I think a bunch of people within those new states should declare that they’re going to secede from that one. Every time they disagree with what the state does, they should form their own state. Pretty soon…

    …they’ll find themselves in a Family Guy episode.

  34. says

    Trying to ship America’s problem right wing areas to Canada wouldn’t work anyways. The crankies would spend five minutes up here, find out about things like government run health care and gun laws that don’t allow concealed carry, scream “Socialists!” at maximum volume, then run screaming back into the US. So Canada would end up with the land, and the non-cranky folks who’d decide to stay, while the troublemakers would all come back.

  35. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I’ve been to Cumberland recently and I’ll have you know that they have a Wendy’s now.

    Ah, moving up in the world, Cumberland! :)

  36. otrame says

    cynikal,

    I like your suggestion @26.

    Simplest solution is grant them a 5 year provisional independence and immediately withdraw all state and federal funds.
    Then remove them from the national grid, impose standard tariffs, and require proper documentation for travel

    Just make sure the borders are well-defended. Wouldn’t want any illegals coming in to take our jobs.

  37. dingojack says

    SLC (#19) – Nope, I didn’t know that. Quelle damage! (When and where exactly? I like a little schadenfreude)..

    Bushrat (#29) asked “If someone could please translate this to American English it would be greatly appreciated.’

    I can’t do that, but I can translate it into staylian for ya:
    We decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.” *

    Dingo
    ———
    * Please send all your nutters here (by boat of course), the sight of Our Glorious Leader having an apoplectic fit as his head melts like a cheap birthday candle on a centenarian’s cake would be comedy gold. (Just tell them to be prepared to spend a lot of time under canvas in PNG though).

  38. pilch62 says

    Western Maryland is a johnny-come-lately to this game. The Eastern Shore of Maryland (i.e., everything east of Chesapeake Bay) has been talking about secession since at least the 1960s. “I don’t give a damn for the whole state of Maryland, I’m from the Eastern Shore . . .” was the little ditty that became a bumper sticker. The idea, actually, was for the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia and at least the southernmost (lowest?) county in Delaware to form a new state, probably called “Delmarva”.

    The thing about all these places is that they inevitably get more from the state monetarily than they pay in taxes. You wouldn’t know it to hear them whine, tho’ . . .

    Oh, and at least in the Eastern Shore’s case, the issue is not just liberal Democrats lording it over them–it’s those “urban” Democrats, you know, the folks who fled the racism of the rural South, that they particularly object to . . .

  39. janeymack says

    Eastern Oregonians as well as eastern Washingtonians have floated these ideas before. One idea a few years back was for the eastern sides of the two states to break away from their parents states and form one state made up of the two eastern halves. I hadn’t heard of the eastern Washington/northern Idaho permutation, but it makes as much sense as any of the others (that is to say, none).

  40. says

    “State of Lincoln”

    Yeah, because Ol’ Abe was so conciliatory in that regard the first time around.

    “I wonder if this guy realizes he’s referring to himself in the second person.”

    My guess? He hears “second person” he’s thinking gunzloonery supporter.

    colnago80:

    At the risk of godwinning the thread (in a sense)…Most of these shit-for-brains KKKlowns are also gunzloonz. They want a 2ndmendments’lushun? Fine,then; hey, Mr. Snopes, ever hear of the the 15Mts’lushun?

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