Of the hundreds of secession attempts in United States history, very few have come to fruition. But the slim odds of victory are not stopping five conservative counties in western Maryland from trying to remove themselves from the rest of the state.
Reuters interviewed Scott Strzelczyk, creator of the secession movement, after a speech he gave to recruit the We the People Tea Party Group of Carroll County into his scheme. He said, "We think we have irreconcilable differences, and we just want an amicable divorce.”
The counties involved are heavily Republican, but are governed by a largely Democratic legislature as well as Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley.
Strzelczyk started the movement back in July with a Facebook page called the Western Maryland Initiative. Since then, the effort has gained momentum, partially due to media attention. National Public Radio and the Washington Post have both covered the movement.
Strzelczyk has said that he knows he’s up against nearly insurmountable odds, but he has no plans to quit. On the contrary, he is forming a nonprofit group, heading policy committees and campaigning to politicians.
“This is about popular support,” he said. “Ultimately, if the people of these five western counties do not support this effort, we’re not going to force them to leave.”
If the counties do rustle up enough support to secede, they will likely face an uphill struggle to make it on their own. The counties are rural, and depend on funding from the state — which generally comes from larger cities that bring in more revenue. Without Maryland’s help, the counties would need to fend for themselves financially, which would undoubtedly sting.
And the trade off? If they secede, the counties would no longer be subject to Maryland’s tax and gun laws.