If the unthinkable happened and Gov. Martin O'Malley ran for president, and won, all those folks who want to make Western Maryland its own state would have go the additional step of making it its own country.
I can't help but think that those calling for Carroll and other western counties to form a new state haven't really thought things through. Most importantly for a lot of families would be the huge hike they would have to pay in tuition costs if their kids wanted to go to the University of Maryland or other powerhouse schools here because they would be classified as out-of-state students. But beyond that, even a new state wouldn't be able to escape most regulations and laws. The federal Environmental Protection Agency would soon enough be sending along the same regulations they have implemented for Maryland, D.C. and other watershed areas to protect the bay. Money will have to come from somewhere to pay for that, as well as to keep up the roads, bridges and infrastructure.
Sure, maybe the new state wouldn't have Maryland's new gun laws, but I don't think being able to have OK Corral-style shootouts at high noon in front of the old saloon as a way to settle disputes or forming a posse to chase down bad guys is a high priority for most folks. And rest assured, if O'Malley did get elected president he'd probably just invade the new country and take it over anyway. Then he probably would take their guns, just as the extremists are claiming he is doing now.
O'Malley hasn't officially said he's running for president. He said he'd know better by the end of the year if it is something he is pursuing. But for a non-candidate, he sure is positioning himself as someone looking for the presidency.
Liberals say O'Malley is attractive because of the things he has been able to get done in Maryland, such as passing our own version of the Dream Act, the gun restrictions and gay marriage. But come on. Given that O'Malley has a huge advantage in Democrats in the legislature over Republicans, and a two-to-one margin over Republicans among voters, it isn't surprising that the Democrat is able to get his stuff passed. In fact, it would be more surprising if he couldn't get what he wanted despite the huge advantage. So no, I don't think O'Malley is all that great at getting things done.
O'Malley also doesn't have a good record working with the other party to accomplish goals. Republicans in the state legislature might as well be invisible for all the attention the Democrats give them, and as a result the state suffers from a single party ideology that leaves many good ideas on the cutting room floor.
O'Malley also doesn't have the big name recognition that other probable Democratic candidates will have. Joe Biden, the vice president, is the obvious Democratic choice to slide into his boss's shoes, but Biden hasn't really grown a strong following in his years as second in command. Everyone is also waiting to see what Hillary Clinton will do. But remember that Clinton got upstaged by a no-experience community planner in 2008 and had to settle for a consolation prize as secretary of state. Will the Democrats do a repeat of that in 2016?
O'Malley certainly has that charisma that too many voters utilize as their deciding factor when considering for whom to vote. And I could just see him going on Saturday Night Live or hitting the late show circuit with his band to boost his national appeal. Hey, it worked with Clinton - Bill, not Hillary - playing the sax. History shows we are fairly superficial when it comes to voting.
And if the GOP turns out all the guns against Clinton, as they appear poised to do already, a lesser known like O'Malley might be able to charm his way into the White House, or at least cruise to victory in the primaries. What happens in the general election is anyone's guess, but if Republicans do what they did to Mitt Romney they can expect similar results to what happened in 2012, when they utilized their combined efforts to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Extreme liberals haven't pushed their candidates to the fringes to the extent that extreme conservatives have, essentially making them unelectable to the general voting population. But O'Malley is starting out already positioned pretty far to the left, so if he did happen to win, perhaps the doves in the party would convince him not to invade the new country of Western Maryland. That would work, unless the Republicans in Congress were worried about weapons of mass destruction and decided to invade the country anyway.