California Breaking Up?

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California is going to have a 2016 ballot measure to break itself into six different states. From my point of view, I see two solid blue states (Silicon Valley and West California), three red states (Jefferson, North California, and Central California), and a purple state (South California). Neither side really gains much overall. However, this is basically without legal effect:

Not only must the breakup plan score an unlikely victory at the ballot box in 2016, it must also win the approval of Congress.

No, it must also win the approval of the California Legislature. Article IV, Section 3 of the United States Constitution:

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The people of California are not the “Legislature of the State concerned.” Unsurprisingly, both parties are fighting it. I don’t think anyone really wants to roll the dice with how this all would end up. From my view it looks like a marginally worse deal for Democrats. Maybe some native Californians who know the political landscape better might disagree.

31 thoughts on “California Breaking Up?”

  1. The rural parts of the state are quite red, as are some suburbs (like Orange County). This plan would split the SF/Silicon Valley and LA parts into their own states which would stay blue, but of the remaining four I’d bet at least three would go red.

  2. Here in northern California (1.5 hours north of Sacramento) things are quite different politically than the coastal regions. The progressive operatives Dems run the state legislature, and as such I feel as if I have little to no representation.

    Splitting the state up in to more ideologically homogenous regions would be a welcome outcome. As it is however, I plan on moving to a free state, rather than stay in the DDR. I want to move to a state that is pushing pro-gun legislation, instead of the anti nonsense we have to deal with each year. Thankfully governor Brown has actually vetoed some of the more draconian stuff as of late.

  3. This is all academic since the Democratic Overlords who gather in Sacramento will never release the power they have over the people of California.

    However, if California really did break up, it would probably be a wash in terms of advantage at the Federal level. But for almost half of the people of California it would be tremendously liberating.

    1. “This is all academic since the Democratic Overlords who gather in Sacramento will never release the power they have over the people of California.”

      More importantly, the Democrat Party will never let it happen. California has the largest block of electoral votes (55) in the whole nation, and hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election since 1988. The Dems will move heaven and earth, and use every dirty trick in the book, to keep from losing such a huge advantage.

  4. This dynamic is present in many states. If Washington split along the Cascades, it would create a new blue state and a new red state. Not that this is some grand revelation, but the divide is urban vs. rural and those areas dominated by the former are blue while those areas dominated by the latter are red.

  5. It has been interesting me for several years how people describing themselves as “patriots” have been making progress toward the dissolution of the United States as we know it, thereby achieving something the communists failed at in the first half of the last century.

    1. You are aware that if California did split up all of the new states would still be part of the Union. And no one’s citizenship would change due to the split up.


      1. True. But I see this as part of an overall package focusing on dividing up states and regions along “cultural” divides that is aimed at increasing political divisiveness, that could lead to de facto if not de jure secession. Such things as state “nullification” laws I see as being part of the same package; e.g., the examples that would dictate arresting and imprisoning federal officials for attempting to enforce federal law sound remarkably close to advocating the “violent overthrow,” which used to frowned on when Dirty Commies were alleged to be advocating it. They never got it before a state legislature, though.

        Please understand that I am attempting to view this dispassionately in a quasi-political-scientist sense, as if I were an outsider with no emotions involved. It just appears ironic that one faction appears to be achieving what the faction it historically opposed, was always accused of plotting.

        1. No, its not aimed at increasing political divisiveness, its about having a government that actually respects people’s rights and wishes.

          Secession is fine because it allows a people to determine their own path. Secession is how this country was formed (the Colonies seceded from Britain).

          State nullification laws are based on an old principle, but the first notable example in this country was the Kentucky and Virginia Resolves which declared the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional and unenforceable in the borders of the respective states. If federal officials are violating the constitution and the rights of the citizens of a state, then justly they should be arrested and charged.

          You appear to NOT be able to view it dispassionately as the language you are using is the opposite, and you also have no understand of history.

          1. I tend to view secession somewhat dispassionately. It’s not legal, unless you can pull it off successfully. It is upending the rule of law. The founders were actually quite cautious with this. We inherited quite a lot of baggage from English Common Law.

            What purpose does sovereign immunity have in a democratic Republic, for instance?

            There it just certain dice, when you roll, anything goes. That’s fine, but we should be honest about what it is.

        2. When you bring up nullification, why no mention of the much older leftwing practice of “sanctuary cities” which intend to nullify Federal enforcement of immigration laws?

          Whenever this talk of insurrectionism or secession comes about, I’m always amused at the double-standard of concern of right-wing vs left-wing agitators. When was the last time the Feds sued a city governments over sanctuary policies?

          1. How about states that are unilaterally “nullifying” marijuana laws?

            (I think the DEA ought to go close these state-approved marijuana distribution centers down as they would any drug dealer, and I’m a guy how wants full legalization of marijuana and treatment of it as if it were alcohol. It’s just that you change laws in Congress, or you have it nullified by federal courts on Constitutional grounds, you don’t just pretend the law doesn’t exist. . . unless you are willing to spend your nights in a Birmingham jail.)

            1. Sorry, federal action against purely intrastate production and usage of MJ is ultra vires.

        3. So the obvious solution for your purposes is to get rid of all the states and all the cultural divides.

          Unless you happen to think we’ve hit the Goldilocks spot of perfection.

    2. A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a family discussion. It was just before Heller was decided, and there was talk that Montana had a provision in the Constitution that required the Federal Government to continue to hold RKBA to be an individual right, and that if Heller went the wrong direction, Montana would leave the Union, Idaho would follow immediately, and Utah, after some debate, would also follow.

      This is one of the factors that has caused me to question the Pledge of Allegiance. Should we really regard any Union as Indivisible?

      Our country has an interesting history: it was founded on the premise that governments can become illegitimate, and when that happens, it is appropriate to break away from that government. I think true patriotism needs to take this “right and duty” to revolution seriously.

      I have the impression that libertarians and conservatives understand this, and while they don’t know or agree on when revolution is appropriate, but they generally agree that it should only be done as a last resort, and that bad things (particularly increase in tyranny) can be the result, if not done correctly. I also have the impression that leftists (particularly Communist-inspired ones) don’t understand this; they think that some sort of paradise is a revolution away, and are always trying to agitate for one…

      1. More than just appropriate, but a duty.

        But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

      2. “Our country has an interesting history: it was founded on the premise that governments can become illegitimate. . .”

        Still focusing on historical ironies, I remember the c. 1950s communists as also having arguments for why the U.S. Government was not “legitimate.”

        The main difference I see here is that different factions have different definitions of legitimacy. It does not change that they could be seeking the same ends for the same purpose; breaking off pieces of the country where they can impose their own worldview, because they know they could never prevail upon the whole.

        1. Do you realize just like a broken clock can be right twice a day, that sometimes evil groups also can be right? Never attack the messenger, always attack the message.

          I can’t disagree with your last paragraph, but that’s the whole point. Let those factions chose their own way.

    3. What the hell are you talking about? Do you realize the original patriots that founded this country did so by breaking up THEIR country?

      There is nothing wrong about breaking up a country- in fact, it should happen more often.

    4. So the pro-Union and anti-slavery activists that caused Virginia to split into two states during the civil war were somehow opposed to the US?

      And what about those separatists in Maine?

      California’s counties are not asking to secede from the US. They are asking to split up a state which has become unwieldy and difficult to govern effectively.

      1. Hell, Bermuda was once part of Virginia.

        In post-revolutionary times, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kent Island (now part of Maryland), part of Ohio, and even part of Pennsylvania, were all seperated from Virginia and into part of another existing state or into independant states of their own.

        As earlier indicated, Maine used to be part of Massachusetts (seperated in 1820). vermont used to be part of New York (seperated in 1776 and accepted into the Union in 1791).

        Subdividing states into more states is something we’ve done since teh very beginning of teh nation. (And that doesn’t even include the colonial subdivisions, like Bermuda being a part of Virginia.)

  6. California is huge. 14 hours to drive it north to south. Like Philly to Orlando. I am in LA and it’s 6 to 8 hours for me to drive to Sacramento. Makes it tough to lobby. A lobby day is impossible unless you can stay 3 days. It won’t help me since my job is in Burbank. But I am hopeful for all those that really don’t live here in my area. But the weather here is spectacular.

  7. “…as well as of the Congress”, note.

    It would need the CA legislature’s approval, even if it was just a rubberstamp of the initiative (which I doubt).

    But it would also still need Congress’ approval.

  8. And if California did that then Texas would have to split into six or more states just to keep up with things. I have been told that when Texas was admitted to the US the Texans reserved the right to split into six separate states but that after the Civil War that option was taken away during re-admittance. I suspect that we could get more conservative Senators and electoral votes by splitting the state apart but I also think that if anyone breaks states apart we are opening a Pandora’s Box of unknown problems.

    Of course I am glad I live in Texas now and not on the West Coast where I have friends, mostly moderate who are trying to figure out how to move to Texas cause we are not totally nuts.

  9. Electorally, it might be a worse deal for the Democrats. But the counties that would make up the new red-leaning states have no money. Their roads and stop signs are paid for by the wealth of the blue-leaning coastal counties who send more to Sacramento than they get back, while the inland counties take more than they pay and benefit more, per capita, from the social services those coastal tax dollars fund. If this six-state version of California is created, the new red states will be among the poorest and most dysfunctional in the country.

    1. They would be a lot like Idaho, which manages to do okay at least partly because along with less revenue, we spend less on stupid stuff than California does.

      1. Of course you have less revenue and spend less, there are no people there haha …. it’s one of the least densely populated states :)

  10. I would guess that much of what is now California would repeal most of the gun control measures and look a lot like Nevada or even Idaho. I doubt that the new blue states could get much more restrictive gun control laws than they already have without running afoul of even the 9th Circuit.

  11. Draper’s Six Californias proposition would be an earthquake in politics. California is simply too big and too diverse to be a single state. 12% of the entire US population lives in California. And it suffers under the imperial rule of an entrenched coastal elite and an entitled bureaucracy in Sacramento. While all of America is increasingly beholden to a similarly imperial Washington, DC, state officials wield far greater power because they are not constitutionally constrained like the federal government.

    Any break-up of California (whether into 3, 4 or 6 independent states) would greatly enhance liberty, democracy and economic growth. But on the national level, it would be partisan win for Democrats. As currently drawn, the New States of North California, Silicon Valley and West California would be solidly Progressive and Democratic. South California would also be solidly Democratic but vastly more Latino. Only the New States of Central California and Jefferson would be Republican or Libertarian.

    But this proposal has no chance whatsoever of being adopted. “There is a lot of ruin in a nation,” and both California and the United States must face far greater crises before anything as radical as Six Californias can become a reality.

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