Time to put away those Confederate flags, redraw the Mason-Dixon line, stop dropping the g's from all our "ing" words, and start moving and talking a lot faster. As of now, Maryland is no longer a daughter of the South.
In case you missed it, Maryland's lawmakers successfully petitioned to move from the Southern Region of the Council of State Governments to the Northern Region, which means we'll be hobnobbing with those Yankees from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. The last time a state switched regions in the 77-year old council, a networking venue for state officials to collaborate and exchange ideas, was in 1994, when Missouri, another historical "border state" switched from the Midwestern Region to the Southern Region.
It was inevitable; two of Maryland's members of Congress are in the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, and Maryland is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a group of Northern states worried about climate change and willing to sacrifice our economic well-being to do something about it. Not the horse sense one would expect from a Southern state, is it?
The District of Columbia is also in the Eastern Region, and Maryland legislators who supported "going Yankee" cited that fact as another reason for the change. I don't get it - we all know DC is on another planet altogether. Do we really want to be in orbit with them?
Of course, the best person to explain the shift is Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, the 68-year old legislator born and raised in Maryland, who graduated from the University of Maryland and has been in the General Assembly since 1971, where he began as a delegate and has been a senator since 1975:
"The South, which we have been a part of for more than 50 years, is a fabulous region, but the politics have changed dramatically, and much of the politics are dominated by tea party activists."Say what?
He says that as if it's a bad thing. I've learned never to take most politicians' words at face value, and his statement is full of innuendo. It's interesting considering his stated preferences for Presidential candidates over the past few years, namely Bill Clinton and John Edwards, have leaned decidedly southward. It's a credit to him that he doesn't share their positions on marital fidelity. But I digress.
Maryland has an active and vibrant Tea Party movement, and it's not because they want to go back to the days of the old South. The politics Mike Miller apparently despises - constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, low taxes, and real charity between neighbors rather than government coercion by confiscating and redistributing wealth - aren't just a Southern thing.
Even the Northeast and Midwest have active and influential Tea Party movements, and their values are what used to be American values before our government became our provider as well as our protector and enforcer.
Even groups like the People for Change in Prince George's County, which wouldn't call itself a "Tea Party" organization, is demanding open, accountable and ethical government, responsiveness to the people, low taxes, business growth to create jobs, and a crackdown on illegal immigration to enforce the law and preserve jobs and benefits for citizens and legal immigrants. We in the Tea Party movement would welcome them into our ranks.
Let's cut to the chase, shall we? Mike Miller, as smart a man as any I've known, is equating the Tea Party movement with the South for one reason - it conjures up in the minds of those who read his words the bogeyman of racism. It's what Democrats do when they can't argue on the merits.
They can't deny that we've strayed from our founding principles, or that government thinks the people serve them rather than the other way around. They don't believe that government should be limited because they think government has all the answers, and if government grows, so do our taxes because government doesn't create a single penny of wealth - we do, and they have to take it from us to get bigger. We've held up a mirror to them, and they can't refute what they see.
The Tea Party movement has shaken them up because they aren't used to the slaves fighting back. So they find the people on the fringes, which have existed in every mass movement in world history, and use them to tar the entire movement.
The anti-war movement had the Weather Underground. The civil rights movement had the Black Panther Party. Even the American Revolution had its terrorists - look up James Aitken, aka John the Painter. No one would equate these great moral movements with terrorism or racism simply because of the extremists in their midst. Democrats are being disingenuous when they make such charges, and it just makes their constituents angrier. Their arrogance will result in pink slips for them come November.
I was the master of ceremonies at Maryland's first Tea Party, held at Solomons on March 22, 2009. About 540 people came out on a sunny Sunday afternoon to rally for a return to our founding principles.
One woman I spoke with epitomizes the Tea Party movement for me. Old and frail, she could have been my great-grandmother. As I knelt down and took her hand to thank her for coming, she leaned into my ear and said, "I've never done anything like this in my life, but I'm angry and I had to do something."
One of the Tea Party movement leaders I know personally is an unemployed IT consultant, wife and mother from Georgia who fears for the country we're leaving her children. Another leader I know grew up as the daughter of a GM factory worker who rose through the ranks to become a manager, and she herself worked in the factory as a manager before becoming politically active.
Two of my dearest friends in the world came from poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse and alcoholism to become one of the most loving, enduring couples I've ever met. They are pillars in our church, active in the community, and have served as precinct captains in their voting district for many years.
They, too, are Tea Party activists; my friend Gary, who passed away unexpectedly last fall, and whose life I've chronicled in this column in the past, made the greatest homemade signs and, although he wasn't well enough to attend a Tea Party rally, his wife, Theresa, would go and carry the signs he made with pride.
These are decent, hard-working people who don't deserve the scorn being heaped upon them by the political class and their sycophants in the media, academia, the entertainment industry and the dependent class, those 40 percent who don't pay any income taxes but demand that others be taxed for their benefit.
Maryland may have crossed the Mason-Dixon line, but there's still a divide in this state, and in this nation - those who fear real life and want their safety guaranteed at any cost, and those who distrust government and want their freedom guaranteed at any cost.
That has nothing to do with North over South, and everything to do with liberty over dependency. Look up "dependency" in the thesaurus, and one of the synonyms is "enslavement." Slavery doesn't require whips and chains; it only requires us to surrender to our fears and let government rule our lives. That's a group I'd rather not join, whatever region it's in.
So, perhaps for the last time, as Maryland goes Northern, let me say "God bless y'all real good!"
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a military veteran, conservative writer and activist, communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party, and executive director of Regular Folks United, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Ron is a regular contributor to RegularFolksUnited.com, American Thinker, and RedCounty.com. You can also follow Ron on his website TeamRonMiller.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook.