The State Secession Movement which first attracted national attention with Colorado’s 51st State Initiative is spreading. Though the proposed State of Northern Colorado never made it to the state legislature, it inspired counties in many unlikely states – such as New York and Maryland – to consider the same proposition. Now, a Silicon Valley investor is proposing a split of California into 6 states. The proposal, itself, may not be the solution America needs, but it is a valuable progression in the secession movement.
Tim Draper’s campaign would split California into the States of Jefferson, North California, Central California, South California, Silicon Valley and West California. The State of Jefferson was first proposed in 1941 and has lingered in the minds of supporters ever since. It was even brought up in November 2012’s famous series of Secession petitions on the Whitehouse petition site.
Draper raises five arguments for his proposal, which is currently opposed by the majority of Californians. It will increase competition, allow each state to start fresh, allow for decisions to be more relevant to each state’s population, and allow individuals to move between states more freely. His last argument involved the Senator to Population ratio, which would be brought down to the national average.
The Senator argument is an interesting one, especially given the history of the state-split debate. Though it is possible that one or two of the new states would be swing states, the majority would likely be solidly blue. Though the argument of “preserving the balance of the Senate” is not a valid one, it was the most commonly used argument by opponents of Colorado’s overtly conservative 51st State Initiative and nearly all of the others which followed it. It was used so strongly that even the founders of Colorado’s initiative talked about a bargain of allowing a blue state in to compensate for the newly created red state. The notion does not have a strong historical precedent but was considered a way to help the initiative pass in the State and National Legislatures.
The Six Californias initiative is the first to avoid the expected partisan divide, and in many ways this gives credibility to a notion which has long been dismissed as a radical right-wing notion with uncomfortable historical connotations. Tim Draper is an accomplished investor from Silicon Valley, an area known for its innovative and forward thinking. Regardless of political divisions, the idea of state-splitting and secession is a very useful and beneficial one to America as a whole, and Draper’s association with it will help it be accepted by the public once more.
Five of 11 counties voted yes on the 51st State Initiative in Colorado, but 5 of 9 could have passed the initiative. This reveals a very minor but important adjustment future secession movements should make. Instead of attempting to get as many counties as possible to put a separation initiative on the ballot, movements should factor in the likelihood of the measure passing in any given county. Draper’s movement is a step in that direction. He has separated different regions with varying likelihoods of passing a secession initiative into different potential states.
The idea of state secession is not a new one. West Virginia split from Virginia to remain with the Union in the Civil War. Before then, Tennessee and Kentucky split from Virginia, Maine and Vermont split from New York and New Hampshire. It has grown more popular with the strong partisan divide in the country today. Largely conservative rural counties feel economically stifled by big cities in America’s blue states. Strongly liberal cities feel constrained in areas such as gay marriage and marijuana legalization by more conservative areas in red states.
Both would benefit from the freedom to govern themselves as they see fit, without having to turn every issue into a major political battle. America’s strong political divide comes, in part, because the two sides feel tied to each other and unable to pursue their own goals, a feeling which would largely subside with state divides which would allow more politically homogenous states to nullify laws they didn’t agree with. A New Republic article this year analyzed the numbers of all the proposed secession movements combined and found that there would be relatively little political change in the country’s national elections if they were to succeed. Obama would still have won in 2012, the Senate would still be relatively evenly split, and many states would still be swing states.
Boundaries and borders should change to accommodate growing and changing populations. The irony is that America’s state borders have remained most stagnant at the time of the greatest population growth and change in the country’s history. Border changes shouldn’t be a taboo, and Draper’s initiative may help them become accepted once again.