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Western Maryland secession movement growing

A Maryland Terrapins fan waves a flag during the Terrapins and Florida State Seminoles game at Byrd Stadium on November 17, 2012 in College Park, Maryland
A Maryland Terrapins fan waves a flag during the Terrapins and Florida State Seminoles game at Byrd Stadium on November 17, 2012 in College Park, Maryland
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

They say they are fed up with gun control measures, high tax rates and other progressive laws imposed on them from heavily Democratic eastern Maryland. And they want out.

A growing number of citizens in western Maryland say the only respite they could hope for – the only way out – is literally to get out of Maryland. They want to form their own state, according to a report from WJZ, Baltimore’s CBS affiliate.

Residents in the state’s five western-most counties – Allegany, Carroll, Garrett, Washington and Frederick – say Gov. Martin O’Malley and majority Democrats in the state’s legislature of being out of touch. They say the state’s uber-liberal policies have already left them on the outside looking in.

So the best thing to do, they say, is to just let them go their own way.

But as you might expect, it’s not an idea that is being taken seriously in the capital. At least, not yet.

“I can’t imagine Maryland without Western Maryland,” O’Malley said recently at a meeting with residents.

“Do you actually care about your citizens?” asked one resident favoring secession, Rob Parr.

“I certainly don’t live in a bubble and I go around the state all the time,” O’Malley answered.

“Why don’t you want to listen to people that you don’t agree with?” asked Suzanne Olden, another resident backing the movement.

“I spend my whole day listening,” O’Malley countered.

Parr, Olden and Scott Strzelczyk are leading the movement to split Maryland in two. The met recently at an Irish pub in Westminster with a reporter from WJZ to say they have become disenfranchised from, and disillusioned with, government in Annapolis.

“If your vote doesn’t count, it’s the same as having no vote. We’re not free,” Strzelczyk said. “We’re doing exactly what they did in 1776. I just simply want to live as a free human being with limited government intrusion in my life and that’s really why I do this.”

All have said that they don’t feel like they’re being represented any longer.

“I’ve gone down to Annapolis. I’ve complained; I’ve been in rallies,” said Parr. “It all falls on deaf ears.”

“The attitude is sit down, shut up, we don’t care what you think,” Olden added.

They are not alone. There are similar movements underway in California, Colorado, Arizona and Michigan. Most backing those movements are also upset with their state’s left-wing slant, with the exception of Arizona; backers of secession there are fed up with the state’s right¬-leaning politics.

Some experts see the modern-day secessionist movement as an outgrowth of hyper-partisan politics and changing demographics.

“Republican counties are becoming more emphatically Republican; Democratic counties are becoming more emphatically Democratic, which means the divisions between Republican and Democratic counties are becoming all the more sharp,” Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Crenson told WJZ.

Nevertheless, secession backers’ chances of success are slim. First of all, states would have to agree to be broken up; secondly, the federal government would have to sign off on the creation of any new states.

At least in the short term, neither of those scenarios seems likely.

Follow J.D. Heyes on Google+ and Twitter.

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