Is Appalachia seceding from Baltimore? Is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula seceding from Detroit? What about Virginia?

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It has been like this for a very long time, but money kept coming up around the edges, and folks want to keep up appearances. Now the money has stopped, and now the edges are stirring. Five western counties in Maryland wish to secede or join other regions. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which is already physically detached from lower Michigan, wants to join Wisconsin. Regions in Colorado seek secession as well, and so do agricultural inlands in California. And the State of Jefferson rises up again in the Pacific Northwest. What about Virginia, where the Dixie battle flag flies again this past week outside of Richmond? What’s going on with that?

What happened? Drugs. And this, most succinctly put by Dwight Eisenhower at San Francisco’s Cow Palace in 1954 on the concentration of power in Washington:

“Expediency said, ‘We cannot allow our fine new ideas to be at the mercy of 51 separate state and territorial legislatures. It is so much quicker and easier to plan, finance and direct all major projects from Washington.'

“Principle says, ‘Geographical balance of power is essential to our form of free society. If you take the centralization shortcut every time something is to be done, you will perhaps sometimes get quick action. But there is no perhaps about the price you will pay for your impatience: the growth of a swollen, bureaucratic, monster government in Washington, in whose shadow our state and local governments will ultimately wither and die.’

And so it is in Detroit. So what happens now west of Baltimore?

Commenter Thomas F. Schaller in The Baltimore Sun has this suggestion for Carroll County, Md., resident Scott Strzelczyk, who is pushing to form a new state: “Here's an alternative suggestion for the folks who've aligned themselves with the Western Maryland Initiative: Just move to West Virginia. It would be a simpler solution for everyone involved.”

Yes, but isn’t that the basic idea? Would not the western counties in Maryland feel kinship with the rural counties in West Virginia and those below where Virginia divides just west of Manassas now and — skipping around Blacksburg and Charlottesville — head all on out across to Johnson City in Tennessee and down through the Smokies and across to the city limits of Knoxville and above again into Sen. Rand Paul’s (R) semi-revolutionary Kentucky?

Is that what is going on slowly and subtly in the rural hills and hollows west and beyond the urban East: The unification of Appalachia to be its own place, leaving Baltimore and the gentrified East behind?