By Kaia Hubbard, US News and World Report
Long-standing political divisions within states are being heightened in a hyper-partisan climate, fueling secession movements across the country as walking away is looking easier than coming together.
When three rural Maryland counties recently threatened to secede from the state, citing a cluster of disagreements with the progressive-leaning politics of the legislature in Annapolis, neighboring West Virginia welcomed them with “open arms.”
“We’d welcome absolutely these counties and be tickled to death to have them and the great folks of that incredible state,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said in response. “We got it going on in West Virginia right now and that’s all there is to it.”
A group of Republican lawmakers from the three Maryland counties last month sent letters to West Virginia leaders urging them to allow the counties to be absorbed into the Mountain State. Some of the lawmakers who signed the letters have already walked back their support, and the potential swap of what amounts to about 1,500 square miles of Maryland soil to West Virginia’s territory is unlikely – just as other attempts have been throughout states like Oregon, California, Colorado, New York, Texas and Washington, among others.
The states are part of a trend with deep historical roots in American politics, occurring for the most part in places where populous metropolitan areas like Baltimore, Maryland, and Portland, Oregon, largely decide the political trajectory of the greater state, regardless of how red and rural its sprawl beyond city limits.
But those long-standing disagreements are running headlong into a growing trend of political partisanship so intense that it’s making consensus elusive and disagreements intractable.