Secession! A treasonous throwback from the 1860’s! Or is it? The citizens of several states would argue otherwise. They don’t want to secede from the Union, they want to secede from their current state. It’s a growing movement, and shows an underlying issue of just how divided we are as a nation. While it seems complicated, it’s a rather simple issue.
In Washington, Illinois, Colorado, Michigan and Maryland, citizens are fed up. Large segments of the citizens are being ignored by their elected officials. Their answer? Break away. I can’t speak for the residents of the other four states, but I live in one western Maryland county that would leave and form a new state, and I am all for it. There are five: Carroll, Frederick, Allegheny, Washington and Garrett. They are comprised of rural areas that are conservative. They receive little to no representation or tax benefit from the very liberal Maryland capital, but pay heavily into its coffers. Governor Martin O’Malley has pushed and signed into law almost fifty new taxes in the last year, gerrymandered the voting districts so badly that the heavily conservative areas are broken into small islands with no representation, and enacted one of the toughest gun control laws in the US. All of these were vociferously protested by a large segment of the citizenry. Republican law makers in Annapolis are routinely told to “shut up” on a good day and worse on bad ones. Civility it isn’t.
People who live in these five counties feel that we are treated as a “cash cow” for the horrific spending of the O’Malley administration, and the bailout source for failing Baltimore City. We are fed up. Scott Strzelczyk started an initiative to break away and become our own state. There is a Facebook page titled the Western Maryland Initiative to garner support for the initiative, and it has actually gotten some big press: from the Washington Post to NPR to Fox News. But is it legal or Constitutional? The answer: “yes” and it’s happened before, the last time when West Virginia broke from Virginia in 1863.
Let’s start with what government was designed to be. Government is the will and voice of the people. WE are the government. WE give government its power and WE can take it back. Starting back with the Declaration of Independence, we declared that “…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
That same document went on to remind us that “…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, is it the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”. Revolution à la 1776. I suggest that our current government take notice, because it has become more than destructive. Given the actions of the NSA, IRS, et al, I daresay I’d call it abusive.
The next question is constitutionality. The idea of a new state seceding from an existing one is addressed in the Constitution. Article IV Section III of the U.S. Constitution states that: “New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.” What that says is 1) new states can and will be admitted to the Union; 2) no state can be an island within the boundaries of another state; and 3) in order to secede the state legislature(s) and then Congress must approve.
In Maryland, Article 1 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights says that government originates “from the People, is founded in compact only, and instituted solely for the good of the whole; and they have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their Form of Government in such manner as they may deem expedient.” (emphasis added).
Article 6 actually says that “whenever the ends of Government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the People may, and of right ought, to reform the old, or establish a new Government” (emphasis added) I daresay ignoring an entire segment of the populace; gerrymandering districts so they make no sense and remove any representation for that ignored segment; and taxing exorbitantly qualifies. The first two certainly makes their redress ineffectual. So, citizens in Carroll, Frederick, Allegheny, Washington and Garrett Counties are hoping to “establish a new Government” in the form of a new State.
To those who would argue, and have argued, that it wouldn’t be fair to those living in those areas who would then be in the minority politically and would take away their voice, I ask you this: Then how can it be fair to those of us now who have no redress, or voice? Who’s to say they would be silenced? I would argue that they would not. Why would we when we who are ignored abhor it? I would also argue that if they don’t like the new state, the old one would be more than happy to keep raping their wallets and rights!
I welcome the new state of Western Maryland, or whatever other name is decided. It will be a place of low taxes, small government and adherence to Constitutional Rights. Sounds just like home to me!
Image: Location map of Maryland, USA; author: Alexrk2; Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license