A New Year Means a New California Secession Movement

A rural inland group wants to split from the coastal communities and from Sacramento.


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Another movement to split up California is brewing. This one wants to create a state called "New California," essentially by separating the red from the blue.

New California would be made up of the inland and non-metropolitan parts of the state (with the notable exception of San Diego). Classic California would consist of the coastal regions from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. A stubby finger pointing eastward from the Bay Area would lump Sacramento in with the coastal folks.

This new push is happening for pretty much the same reason as every other push for secession in California: People in one part of the state feel ignored, unrepresented, and abandoned by state government. From Sacramento's CBS affiliate:

"Well, it's been ungovernable for a long time. High taxes, education, you name it, and we're rated around 48th or 50th from a business climate and standpoint in California," said founder Robert Paul Preston….

"There's something wrong when you have a rural county such as this one, and you go down to Orange County which is mostly urban, and it has the same set of problems, and it happens because of how the state is being governed and taxed," Preston said.

New California would remain in the union; they just want their own state. It is not unlike the efforts in northern California to break away into a new state named Jefferson.

The complaints are familiar: People who do not live in the Democratic urban strongholds with high populations do not feel as though state-level decisions consider their needs in any way, shape, or form, and they do not feel as though they have any control over policies that affect their lives. California politicians recently approved a $15 minimum wage to please metropolitan labor activists and interests. That could be potentially devastating to low-skill jobs in poor rural parts of the state that cannot absorb the cost increases, but that wasn't a consideration. Indeed, Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged that "economically, minimum wages may not make sense" as he approved the increase. He did it anyway, to please the more politically powerful constituency.

What's different about the New California push it that it's going to go through the state legislature for permission to break off rather than attempting to win a ballot initiative. I suspect that will hit a wall quickly. The coastal folks may not care that much about the people in the inland parts of the state, but they care quite a lot about the land and natural resources that those people are on top of. When some progressive urban folks got publicity for their movement to secede from the union entirely in a fruitless response to President Donald Trump's election, they wanted to take the whole state with them, conservative rural Trump voters and all.

I support non-urban Californians' right to break off into a state that better represents their preferences. It's just not going to be easy.

Bonus link: Steven Greenhut has written more on the frequent failed efforts to break up California into smaller, more manageable states.