Maryland Embraces The Secesh

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Maryland's official song may include a line about "Northern scum" left over from the Civil War era, but the state isn't feeling so Southern anymore.

Though Marylanders live just south of the Mason-Dixon Line, their attitudes and even their accents straddle that border. These days, leaders feel they've got more in common with states to the north.

In one sign of the shift, lawmakers successfully petitioned to move from the Southern Region of the Council of State Governments to the Eastern Region, where they'll be able to trade ideas with fellow officials from Pennsylvania, New York, and other states they consider more like-minded.

"I just don't think we're as Southern as people used to think," said state Sen. Catherine Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat.

Maryland's a weird state. Whenever I visit my relatives on the Eastern shore, the Southerness is pretty clear. But growing in Baltimore, culturally, we were always much more like the Northeastern cities. Maybe hip-hop had a lot to do with that. We were definitely more Public Enemy than 2 Live Crew. 

Anyway, it's interesting because I always thought Jersey and Delaware were much the same. There are places in both states that feel very Southern to me. Part of it is distinguishing between rural/urban and North/South. I could be that I'm talking about the former. This is also, of course, political. Maryland is the only real perpetually blue state in "The South."

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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