Colorado Secessionists Are Not Alone

Voters in 11 Colorado counties will decide Tuesday if they want to split from the state. But it’s not just them — partition is hot these days.

The "capital" of Jefferson, a proposed state to be carved out of Northen Calofornia and Southern Oregon.
National Journal
Alex Seitz Wald
Add to Briefcase
Alex Seitz-Wald
Nov. 5, 2013, 12:02 p.m.

Voters in 11 con­ser­vat­ive counties in Col­or­ado will de­cide Tues­day if they want to try to break away from a state that they feel has grown too lib­er­al. The par­ti­tion move­ment has been largely treated as a sideshow in the state, es­pe­cially since the counties would need ap­prov­al from both the state Le­gis­lature and Con­gress — neither of which are likely — to es­cape Den­ver’s 137-year-rule over their ter­rit­ory and be­come the 51st state. But the counties are hardly alone.

There have been dozens of state par­ti­tion move­ments in Amer­ic­an his­tory, but they seemed to have picked up steam in re­cent years as the coun­try has be­come more po­lar­ized. These move­ments, dis­tinct from those en­deavor­ing to sep­ar­ate from the uni­on en­tirely, usu­ally aim to join neigh­bor­ing states whose polit­ics or cul­ture more neatly re­flect their own, or to cre­ate a new state carved out of an ex­ist­ing one.

In Mary­land, some tea-party act­iv­ists from the west­ern part of the state — which may have more in com­mon with West Vir­gin­ia and Pennsylvania than with Bal­timore and An­na­pol­is — want the five counties that make up the state’s pan­handle to break away. “We think we have ir­re­con­cil­able dif­fer­ences, and we just want an am­ic­able di­vorce,” or­gan­izer Scott Strzel­czyk said of his de­sire to leave the Old Line State.

Cali­for­nia, mean­while, with its vast size, com­plic­ated re­source polit­ics, and di­verse pop­u­la­tion, has long been fer­tile ground for state par­ti­tion move­ments. A group of north­ern counties have long wanted to join some counties in south­ern Ore­gon to form a new state called Jef­fer­son. In 1941, res­id­ents even went so far as to elect a gov­ernor, and in 1965 the Cali­for­nia state Sen­ate gave the OK to par­ti­tion the state (it nev­er went bey­ond that though). In 1989, KSOR, the pub­lic-ra­dio af­fil­i­ate based at South­ern Ore­gon Uni­versity in Ash­land, rebranded it­self as Jef­fer­son Pub­lic Ra­dio.

Today, the Jef­fer­son De­clar­a­tion Com­mit­tee has taken up the charge. “What we would like to do is gain rep­res­ent­a­tion for the north­ern people of the state,” Mark Baird, spokes­man for the group, told NPR, not­ing that urb­an areas dom­in­ate the state Le­gis­lature in Sac­ra­mento. “The only way to do that is to have our own state.” In Septem­ber of this year, boards in two Cali­for­nia counties, Sis­kiy­ou and Modoc, voted in fa­vor of se­ces­sion from the Golden State. Today, a gi­ant sign in Yreka, Cal­if. — his pro­posed in­ter­im cap­it­al of the new state — greets vis­it­ors to the “State of Jef­fer­son.”

In 1969, writer Nor­man Mail­er ran for may­or of New York City on a plat­form that in­cluded mak­ing the city its own state and re­nam­ing everything north of the Big Apple Buf­falo. More re­cently, Queens Coun­cil mem­ber Peter Val­lone Jr. has offered sev­er­al bills to split the city from ste state, in­clud­ing one in 2003 that at­trac­ted 20 co­spon­sors, out of 51 coun­cil mem­bers. “If not se­ces­sion, some­body please tell me what oth­er op­tions we have if the state is go­ing to con­tin­ue to take bil­lions from us and give us back pen­nies,” Val­lone asked in 2008.

Oth­er urb­an areas like Chica­go have en­ter­tained their own dreams of go­ing it alone, while some rur­al le­gis­lat­ors say good rid­dance to their metro re­gions. Like­wise for Michigan’s Up­per Pen­in­sula, which only be­came part of the state after an odd fluke of his­tory known as the Toledo War.

Mean­while, act­iv­ists from the Tuc­son area want to “Free Baja Ari­zona” from the tyranny of Phoenix. The bor­ders of the pro­posed new state are based roughly on the Gadsden Pur­chase, a swatch of land the U.S. an­nexed from Mex­ico in 1853. Baja Ari­zona has long been a “state of mind,” more lib­er­al and di­verse than the rest of the state, and now they want to make it the real deal.

Mi­chael Trinklein has writ­ten a whole a book about “lost states,” as he calls them, which nev­er made it to the flag. And The New Re­pub­lic’s Nate Cohn re­cently cre­ated a handy map of what the new 61 United States of Amer­ica would look like if some of these par­ti­tion­ists got their way.

Of course, all of these move­ments are likely doomed to fail for myri­ad reas­ons, but es­pe­cially be­cause each new state would get two sen­at­ors, thus up­set­ting the bal­ance of power in Wash­ing­ton (plus, we’d need to make new flags).

To change that, we’d prob­ably have to change the con­sti­tu­tion — but why not? States are at war with them­selves across the coun­try thanks to ca­pri­ciously draw bor­ders that lump to­geth­er people with op­pos­ing cul­tures and polit­ics, but it need not be that way.

“It’s like the Baskin-Rob­bins of states,” says Strzel­czyk, of the Mary­land par­ti­tion­ists. “You can ac­tu­ally live in a polit­ic­al so­ci­ety that gov­erns the way you want to be gov­erned. The more choice the bet­ter.”

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
22 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
1 days ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
1 days ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
2 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login