Some people in on the western side of Maryland feel that their views are not being heard. They are largely Republican, in this slice of the Free State, and they're getting fed up with living in a state dominated by Democratic leaders. True, people in the five counties in question represent just 11 percent of the state's population, but from their perspective, they might as well not exist, since the liberal policies approved at the state level or advocated by the state's Democratic senators don't reflect their vision for the state or the country.
It's so maddening, being so ignored and disempowered, a western Maryland group says, that they'd prefer to just leave, forming their own new state of West Maryland.
Sounds frustrating, western Marylanders. You want to see even more frustration? How about taking a little trip beyond the Maryland border to Washington, D.C., where more than 630,000 tax-paying, armed services-serving U.S. citizens don't have full voting rights?
So it's irritating, living in a Republican conclave in the state and being outnumbered by Democrats who have tended in recent years to win statewide elections? Imagine what it's like to be treated like Congress' little petri dish, the site where a bunch of people who don't live anywhere near the District of Columbia – and make no bones about how much they don't like the nation's capital – try out different social policy ideas? Remember that they do so despite overwhelming opposition from the people who actually live and pay taxes in D.C.
Imagine if the U.S. Congress told you that you had to spend pots of money changing the names on your public transportation stations to include the name of Barack Obama (as Congress did with the district when it forced the jurisdiction to spend the money to include “Ronald Reagan” on the maps and station lists for National Airport)? What, just update the names as the maps and station lists needed to be replaced or refurbished? Sure, that would have saved some much-needed money, but at the cost of denying GOP congressman the pleasure of putting their political idol's name all over a heavily Democratic city.
It can be exasperating, feeling as though your votes go into a black hole and don't mean much. But at least you get to vote, western Maryland. At least you have at least the opportunity to find a decent gubernatorial candidate and campaign for his or her election. At least you have two senators and voting members of the House to advocate for Maryland – west, east and center – in Congress.
The answer to unhappiness cannot be to simply threaten to leave (not that the state or Congress would OK it anyway). Western Maryland, you are not powerless. You have a weapon. It's called a vote. Use it.