MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Plan to Break Up California Makes Fall Ballot

Voters will get to consider a plan to create three smaller states, but politicians will make the call.

Cal3 MapCal3 mapIn November, California voters will decide whether they still want to be California voters. Perhaps they'd prefer to be Southern California voters or Northern California voters?

One of the many, many efforts to break up the state of California into smaller, more governable chunks has made it onto the November ballot. Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper proposes turning California into three states. A geographically small, but population dense strip of the central coast (including Los Angeles) would remain California. The northern part of the state (including San Francisco and current state capitol Sacramento) would become Northern California. The rest, including San Diego and the inland desert communities, would become Southern California.

Draper had previously proposed breaking California up into six states, only to see the effort fail because too many signatures for his ballot initiative were rejected. But on Tuesday, Draper's new effort—called Cal 3—qualified for the November ballot.

Voters cannot simply decide to break up a state in a simple majority vote. The ballot initiative instructs the governor to seek approval by Congress under Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution to get permission to create these new states.

And that, of course, is where things would likely hit a snag. The very reasons Draper calls for the state's fracturing—"vast parts of California are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically"—benefit certain political interests who want to keep their power levels intact. By "certain political interests," I mean the state's Democratic Party, whose control over state-level political decisions is nearly (though not completely) absolute. As the Los Angeles Times notes, Democratic opposition to the initiative is already coming together:

A nascent opposition campaign already is sounding the more practical alarms about splitting California into three states. It could easily be bankrolled by some of the state's most powerful forces, especially those aligned with Democratic leaders.

"This measure would cost taxpayers billions of dollars to pay for the massive transactional costs of breaking up the state, whether it be universities, parks or retirement systems," said Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political strategist representing opponents to the effort. "California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state, but this measure is a massive distraction that will cause political chaos and greater inequality."

The fears of "greater inequality" are pretty rich, given the state's propensity for mandating that the preferences of politically connected urbanites in population strongholds such as San Francisco and Los Angeles be spread all across the state, no matter how destructive they may be. It wasn't the red parts of the state that have made it next to impossible to build more housing here, and it wasn't the red parts of the state that pushed a massive minimum wage hike that's going destroy employment opportunities in poor rural communities. And it certainly wasn't the red parts of the state that continued an extremely wasteful, unneeded high-speed rail program that will milk the budget dry even though polls have shown most taxpayers really don't want it anymore.

It's nevertheless extremely clear that there's going to be tremendous political opposition to any of this happening, regardless of how much California voters might want it. When Brexit happened, I argued that British citizens absolutely had a right to decide whether they wanted to remain part of the European Union, but I didn't think much about how I might have voted if I had lived there.

California residents (not politicians) should have the exact same right to decide to break up the state into smaller chunks if they want to. As a California resident, I actually will get a vote on this option, even if nothing comes of it. Just the possibility that this could kill off the train boondoggle might be enough to get me to say yes.

Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • damikesc||

    Why would we accept multiple states there? If you want to secede from the US, fine. But more Senators et al? Nope. Fuck that noise.

  • Sevo||

    Because some of those senators might not be CA proggies.

  • damikesc||

    Odds are they'd have 4 out of 6. That's not an improvement. And the proggies would be more proggie.

  • SRoach||

    Sounds like a net gain of 0, and a state that might swing toward moderation as the other two fly off the handle.

    I doubt it, however. My prediction is, SoCal would become a bedroom community for LA, should property and income taxes be lower there, and continue to vote ultra-liberal.

  • BILKER||

    dami they would all be Kalifornia democrat socialists since the three states are made from the three most populous cities that make the late great state of California a traitorous anti Constitution, anti Bill of Rights gulag.

  • Rhywun||

    If I'm reading that map right, it looks like the current 2 Dem senators will become at least 4 if not more.

  • Zeb||

    The bay area really needs to be part of "Cal".

  • Pro Libertate||

    I thought it was seceding from the Earth.

  • DarrenM||

    Just from reality.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Just make it coastal and inland.

  • Ron||

    that is the best choice. putting San Fran with Northern California does not resolve the issue of lack of representation that the North and East wants from the controlling liberal vote centers. the map the way its layed out just gives more prog senators. It will be voted down but that is why they keep making maps that don't resolve any issues so that they can say that Californians keep voting separate states down and they will quit the idea all together.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Too much of a population imbalance. There's a reason each of the big cities (San Fran, San Diego, Los Angeles) got it's own state.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And it's because it does little to reference the relative power that those cities have over the rest of the state. This suggested arrangement leaves the power entirely in those cities, which does nothing to address the common complaints of the non-coastal California.

    Which is not small, mind you. The inland empire alone is 4 million+ people.

  • EscherEnigma||

    While the Inland Empire may not be small compared to some states (Wyoming's population is about ~580k), it is small compared to California, which is about 40 million. Similarly, the 20 odd counties that tried to declare their independence to form "Jefferson" a few years back totalled about 1.5 million folks.

    And that's the problem. The rural areas don't have a disproportionately small voice. They have a proportionately small voice. We'd need at least four new states with some very creative gerrymanders to "fix" that.

  • Roger Knights||

    "Just make it coastal and inland."

    And do the same for Oregon & Washington.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Not at all! SF and Sacramento can stay in "North California," but that State should be whittled down by letting the many Northern California Counties, which have already declared support for "The State of Jefferson," to split off and form their own State. "Cal" should start roughly with Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties in the North and extend only as far down as San Luis Obispo County. (I would also include some Central Valley and Sierra foothills Counties of similar latitudes -- for instance, Fresno, Merced, Madera, and Mariposa) to increase the population and area.) Monterey could once again be a State capital, or perhaps the new State's residents would select San Jose. South California should start at Santa Barbara County and include Counties to the East and South, including both Los Angeles and San Diego. No, this idea doesn't "balance" partisan voters or population, but it does tend to keep areas of the same or similar regional identities together, which I feel is more important to producing government that properly represents and serves its people: as I see it, the correct goal of a State split. (By that reasoning, the Inland Empire and High Desert Counties should probably form their own State, too, but I think that any partition proposal should probably chop up California into fewer than five pieces at once, in order to have any chance at all of prevailing. Perhaps South California could split into two somewhere down the line.)

  • DaveSs||

    Right

    The way they have drawn this map its more likely to ensure the rural parts of the state are still dominated by the urban centers.

  • Bubba Jones||

    That's what killed earlier plans. "NorCal" didn't want SF.

  • I can't even||

    Yep - 3 Democratic states for sure. No thanks.

  • Tony||

    What this country needs is even more disproportionate representation of rural morons in Congress.

  • Calidissident||

    The vast majority of the population in the Southern state lives in Orange County, San Diego, and the Inland Empire (huge land area, but almost everybody lives in the extended suburbs of LA rather than the remote desert parts). It's not at all a rural state.

  • Mark22||

    I'm glad we agree on that.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I don't know, I'm willing to give it a try for a while. I doubt it will be much worse than disproportionate representation of snotty nitwits.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Pretty sure that "snotty nitwits" are a super-majority of the population, so I'm not sure they're being over-represented anywhere.

  • BYODB||

    Always fun to watch a Democrat argue against democracy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Always fun to watch a Democrat argue against democracy.

    Democrats love democracy as long as it serves them. When the vote doesn't go their way, the opposition cheated or stole it (Russia!). Principals, not principles.

  • damikesc||

    And, they and their union friends are endlessly fond of the concept of "one man, one vote, one time"

  • Mark22||

    Tony wants majoritarianism, aka "dictatorship of the proletariat".

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Worse than Nazis!

  • DarrenM||

    Have they already started hauling people away to gas chambers?

  • damikesc||

    What we need is MORE people with no idea how to actually do anything practical.

    Those morons, as you call them, are far more vital for your survival than the idiots in SF are for mine.

  • BILKER||

    i'm just guessing, tony, that you love concrete blacktops. it's not the "rural idiots" that ruin things. it's urban lamebrains that think food comes from supermarkets and mac donalds.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    What this country needs is a referendum on whether you're a one-dimensional simpleton or just a malignant douchebag who should drink bleach.

  • ThomasD||

    I don't care which part they come from, the vast majority of all Senators tend statist in the long run.

    The only way we add more of them is if we go back to having them chosen by state legislatures.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    No secession. Just make the progressives leave forever with nothing.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Not your call, dude. Let the Californians decide that.

  • Eric||

    "Why would we accept multiple states there? If you want to secede from the US, fine. But more Senators et al? Nope. Fuck that noise."

    Wyoming agrees with you!

  • RPGuy16||

    This is exactly why it will never happen unless the party getting more Senate seats already has 60 votes in the Senate.

  • Sevo||

    "This measure would cost taxpayers billions of dollars to pay for the massive transactional costs of breaking up the state, whether it be universities, parks or retirement systems," said Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political strategist representing opponents to the effort. "California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state, but this measure is a massive distraction that will cause political chaos and greater inequality."

    Haa, ha, ha,ha. HAAAAAAAAAA ahahahahahahaha, Snurkle, (sniff) Hahahahahhahha.
    Pay no attention to (Hahahahahhhahahahahah...0, uh to that guy behind (hahahaha0 the curtain!

  • Aloysious||

    "This measure would cost taxpayers billions of dollars to pay for the massive transactional costs of breaking up the state, whether it be universities, parks or retirement systems," said Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political strategist representing opponents to the effort

    *blinks*

    So we have someone affiliated with the Democrat party on record saying that costing the taxpayer billions of dollars will harm the taxpayer.

    Interesting.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Shovel ready jobs!

  • Mickey Rat||

    Well, yes, if that something will take power away from their utopian fantasies.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Three times the derp!

  • Eidde||

    They should study how Kentucky and Tennessee and Vermont got to be their own states, despite being part of (or at least claimed by) other states.

    I'm not fully familiar with the details, but I think that complete constitutional legality was not followed at every single step of the process.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    West Virginia split from Virginia to avoid association with the vicious southern racists, as I recall.

  • Eidde||

    And they voted Democratic from that day to this!

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    West Virginia voted for Trump. They love Trump in West Virginia.

    They believed Trump would rework economic fundamentals by making education and marketable skills irrelevant, enabling left-behind rural whites to prosper -- and not only to prosper, but to do so at the expense of all of those fancy-pants, college-educated, elite cityfolk.

  • Eric||

    Appalachian whites are switching to the GOP now that it's becoming a populist party.

  • ThomasD||

    The UMW can't keep them on the D plantation anymore.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Arthur L. Hicklib again demonstrates his historical ignorance.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    Please. Let's not insult Bill Hicks by associating him with this jackass.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    How so? He is correct.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    How so? He is correct.

    West Virginians were Unionists, not secessionists, and owned slaves.

  • ThomasD||

    No, what became West Virginia was largely not slave country. Neither was northeast TN, which came ver close to separating from the rest of the state. One county (Scott) actually did.

    Both wwre more manufacturing/extractive/industrial than deep south ag based economies.

  • ThomasD||

    East TN, with it's very strong Chrisitianity was actually an early and sustained home of the abolition movement.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Slaveowners were a minority in most southern states regardless of the location. West Virginia's politics were dominated by slave owners up until the Civil War, and there was little in the way of an organized abolition movement there.

  • gormadoc||

    WV politics were dominated by Richmond before secession and not by what the people of WV wanted. Kinda like NY and NYC.

  • Eric||

    Red Rocks seems to just throw poo at this point. Please change your name to someplace less grand, and more appropriate to your style of thinking. Perhaps Stone Mountain...Or if you must appropriate a CO landmark....how about Sand Creek?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • Eric||

    I literally just laughed out loud at work.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I literally just laughed out loud at work.

    The anti-depressants are finally kicking in.

  • Ariki||

    The timing of that is just great.
    Move hand, shit in hand, throw shit at grandma, all in one movement.
    Gold.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Or if you must appropriate a CO landmark....how about Sand Creek?

    I prefer Ludlow myself.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Maine was also once a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Split off as part of the Missouri Compromise, I believe, to maintain the slavery/abolitionist balance in the Senate.

  • BigChiefWahoo||

    It was admitted to the union as part of the Missouri Compromise, but separation from Massachusetts was a strictly local Maine cause.

  • sarcasmic||

    Cumberland county still is.

  • Citizen X||

    Kentucky is rightfully part of Virginia, and will be again.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I love when someone feigning that they're normal let's their weird libertarian beliefs out.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Little known fact: Citizen X is a descendant of the Hatfields and hatred for Kentucky is imprinted into his genetic code. The toxoplasmosis only makes this worse.

  • ThomasD||

    I'd recommend taking eastern KY, combining it with SW VA and leaving it all the fuck alone.

  • Rat on a train||

    I support building a wall along the Rappahannock.

  • BigChiefWahoo||

    Maine is a better example. It was an integral and uncontroverted part of Massachusetts until 1820, and it became a separate state through the ordinary political process.

  • Just Say'n||

    "When Brexit happened, I argued that British citizens absolutely had a right to decide whether they wanted to remain part of the European Union, but I didn't think much about how I might have voted if I had lived there.

    California residents (not politicians) should have the exact same right to decide to break up the state into smaller chunks if they want to. As a California resident, I actually will get a vote on this option, even if nothing comes of it. Just the possibility that this could kill off the train boondoggle might be enough to get me to say yes."

    It's amazing how defending the notion that voters should have a say in how they are governed has become such an extremist position in some quarters. Considering all the efforts to nullify the results of elections from the US presidential election to the Brexit vote and the elections in Italy, just to name a few examples, the people defending the so-called liberal order are quite illiberal.

    Good article

  • albo||

    Leave it to California to find a way to be three times as annoying to the rest of us.

  • JFree||

    The easier option would have been for them to just increase the size of their own legislature for the first time since 1880.

    but no - that would have just meant more CA's in a room annoying each other.

    They gotta annoy us more instead

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state

    But it won't.

  • Rhywun||

    Look, do you want every functionary to retire at 50 on a comfortable mid-six-figure pension or not?

  • Mark22||

    That's a trick question, isn't it?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    No.

  • The_Hoser||

    Depends. Are they hiring functionaries?

  • Thor||

    There's already a movement in Nothern California to create the State of Jefferson. No one in the rural northern counties want anything to do with San Francisco and the surrounding areas.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    All of that damned economic success, progress, reason, tolerance, education, science, inclusivity . . . no wonder the yahoos are restless.

  • Sevo||

    I knew I'd read your line of bullshit before:
    "Like the Jews that Moses led out of Egyptian slavery, the half-savage, stupid, ponderous people of the Russian villages ….. will die out and a new tribe will take their place – literate, sensible, hearty people"
    Maxim Gorky, "On the Russian Peasant", 1922.
    Gorky, Stalin apologist and dimwit, believes his elitist crap will be 'voluntary'; I doubt the Rev is under such illusions, dimwit as he is.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    Dude, have you read his posts? He's got a huge rape fetish, and he probably wouldn't mind watching those he hates get their heads bashed in. Not that he'd join in and put himself in danger, mind you; no, he's "better" than that.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    You forgot "street-shitting".

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    Street-shitting, anti-vaxxing, economically illiterate, intolerant, senseless, and immune to reason. Yep, that's Kirkland in a nutshell.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, tolerance and inclusivity, just as long as you don't express any ideas that challenge the progressive orthodoxy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Tolerance and inclusivity of skin color (as long as it is not white), sexual orientation (as long as it is not straight), religion (as long as it is not Christian), and politics (as long as it is leftist). They're like totally tolerant and inclusive.

  • Mark22||

    All of that damned economic success, progress, reason, tolerance, education, science, inclusivity

    It's just like the USSR or Nazi Germany!

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    You should be beaten about the face with a brick.

  • Calidissident||

    It'll be interesting to see how much support this gets. The opposition of the CA Dems is obvious, but I'm not sure there's all that much upside for Republicans.

    The conservative parts in the Northern half of the state are still dominated by the Bay Area. The conservative parts of the Southern half are dominated by the moderate populous areas in SoCal (OC, SD, IE). Republicans in that state would get better representation, but at the same time Republicans in the Northern state would be no better off if not worse than the status quo. At the federal level, the Republicans would benefit from the breakup of Electoral College votes and they'd have a chance at winning the Southern state. But this wouldn't be guaranteed at all, as Clinton won those counties collectively by a solid margin in 2016. And at the same time, California would now have 6 out of 104 Senators instead of 2 out of 100. 4 of these would be guaranteed Democrats, and the other two would at best be tossups for the Republicans.

    Also, in terms of logistics and organization, I feel like breaking up LA and the surrounding counties would be a nightmare even though there is (still) a big political divide (though these days it's more of a solid blue vs. purple divide instead of blue vs. red).

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Lumping SF and Sacramento into NorCal makes it another Dem stronghold. SoCal looks more like a split, but I don't know the boundaries there very well. No way the GOP would allow six Dem Senators in place of two. If SF and Sacramento were part of Cal, the GOP might accept it.

  • Calidissident||

    Without at least the Sacramento area, I can't see the NorCal area ever being a state. If you take out the Bay Area and the Sacramento area, there's maybe 1-2 million people there. In a state of 40 million, it's never getting split into 3 parts with one of them being that small. It'd make more sense to at least toss in the rest of the Central Valley at that point.

  • ||

    Really much of the western half of the country needs to be redrawn, not just CA. The lines were drawn back when almost no one lived here, and were drawn up as a result of negotiations conducted far away by people who in many cases had never even been here.

    WA and OR have similar problems with the extreme cultural divide between the cities on the coast and the rural communities inland, and there has long been talk of an inland state that comprises eastern WA & OR, western ID, parts of northern NV, and the mountains of far northern CA. When you get to the Shasta area, for example, there's much more commonality with rural OR, NV and ID than there is with SF, by far.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Let's not assume the rural regions will forever be backward and shambling.

  • ||

    Let's not assume the rural regions will forever be are in fact backward and shambling.

    FTFY, oh un-bigoted one.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Let's not assume the rural regions will forever be backward and shambling.

    Hicklibs certainly will be, however.

  • ||

    The conservative parts in the Northern half of the state are still dominated by the Bay Area. The conservative parts of the Southern half are dominated by the moderate populous areas in SoCal (OC, SD, IE).

    ^ This. If political "fairness" were the goal, the lines should be separating the coastal 20-30 miles from the rest of the state, and then maybe you would combine the nine Bay Area counties with Sacramento and cut the whole rural north free.

    Also, in terms of logistics and organization, I feel like breaking up LA and the surrounding counties would be a nightmare

    That, too. If nothing else, thinking you can put Los Angeles and Orange Counties in different states is just dumb. Along much of the county line, one side of the street is LA and the other is OC.

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, you've got a very blue coast for the most part until you get to the OC. A mostly red interior that way as well, aside from the Sacramento area and parts of the valley that have become more purple or blue from the growth in the Hispanic population. And then the OC, SD, and IE are purple these days. So you have a lot of people in those areas who would like to break free politically of LA and NorCal, but on the other hand a lot of people there would not like that, and it would be a mess logistically as we've discussed. For the interior parts, adding these areas would make any new state more purple, but that would have two positives: 1) it would make splitting up the state more palatable to Democrats (at least nationally) since there wouldn't be a new solidly red state 2) Those areas would be a huge boon economically. The Central Valley and rural NorCal has agriculture and some other industries and resources, but overall I think it could struggle economically without the OC/SD coast and the populous IE inbetween.

  • ||

    And then the OC, SD, and IE are purple these days.

    Definitely - I grew up in OC in the 70s and 80s and back then it was semi-rural (still mostly orange and lemon groves) and fairly split between Goldwater Republicans and what I can only call "televangelist-Republicans." It's been trending bluer and bluer ever since as it's become more urbanized. Another 15-20 years and OC will be just like West LA/Long Beach.

    But I also agree that it's not obvious that the inland areas can stand on their own economically.

  • EscherEnigma||

    The "goal" is to keep Silicon Valley money to itself and stop sharing with all those poor folks. Everything else is just publicly palatable justifications to reach that goal.

    It's not really a partisan thing, just a capitalist one.

  • TW||

    Agreed, if California is so dysfunctional that they're considering breaking up into three smaller states because they're unable to govern themselves, why on Earth would we want them to have a greater say in how the country is governed?

  • DarrenM||

    I think one thing that might make more sense regarding the Electoral College is for each Congressional district to be counted separately as one vote. Whoever wins the popular vote in that district gets the EC vote. The votes corresponding to the Senators would both go to the winner of the popular vote in that state.

  • EscherEnigma||

    States are free to do that if they chose. The problem is that the Constitution explicitly gives that choice to the states. So requiring all states to do so would require a Constitutional Amendment.

    That said, that just incentivizes district-level gerrymandering even more. So I think we need to solve that problem before we try to mandate that all states apportion votes by congressional district.

  • kevrob||

    Maine and Nebraska have chosen to do it that way, with the "at-large" winner taking the 2 EVs the states earns from their Senate representation.

    What would be fun is states with a lot of EVs distributing them based on a "proportional representation" basis, but there's no incentive in the political establishment to do that. Winner-take-all sucks for voters on the short end, but the machines love it. Throwing elections into the House of Representatives might result from these creative options unless we changed that too, perhaps with a French-style runoff.

  • SRoach||

    I think states should write laws with a "sunrise" clause.
    When a certain percentage of states have similar laws, this law goes into effect.
    For just this type of problem.

    Imagine a state law that said they'd divide up their electoral votes proportionally once 80% of the other electoral votes were done, or about to be done, that way.

    On the flip side, I live in a nicely deep red state. I don't have to listen to near the number of political ads, including attack ads, as does some poor resident of Florida or Colorado.
    Heck, car dealership ads are better than those.

  • JFree||

    Problem is that that doubly incentivizes gerrymandering.

    Proportional vote for House electors would work - but the last thing any of the big states want to do is give their own political minority an electoral vote

  • Rat on a train||

    Also, in terms of logistics and organization, I feel like breaking up LA and the surrounding counties would be a nightmare even though there is (still) a big political divide (though these days it's more of a solid blue vs. purple divide instead of blue vs. red).
    The Orange Curtain has fallen.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    "California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state, but this measure is a massive distraction that will cause political chaos and greater inequality."

    "This isn't what we mean when we talk about diversity."

  • SRoach||

    I'd bet you that California sells itself all the SoCal water before letting the state break up into separate jurisdictions.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    The Colorado River Compact would have to be re-worked. Most of that water goes to the Imperial Valley and is owned by the Imperial Irrigation District, anyway, so LA doesn't actually have the rights to it.

  • ||

    Yes - Mono Lake, where LA gets much of its water, would also be in a different state from LA. In fact, the state that would be called "California" would be pretty thoroughly fucked as far as water goes.

  • lap83||

    They can harvest water from their tears

  • Mickey Rat||

    Must invest in stillsuits.

  • Zeb||

    The real moral of the story is that people shouldn't live in California, or most of the Western US, in large numbers. They are all just going to run out of water, catch on fire and then whoever is left will die in an earthquake.

  • ||

    They are all just going to run out of water, catch on fire and then whoever is left will die in an earthquake.

    Well, at least the weather is nice.

  • Rat on a train||

    The 4 seasons of California:
    Fire, Flood, Quake, Riot

  • El Oso||

    Won't happen, but for argument's sake: Put SF in with the rest of the West Coast Losers. Hey, a good name for their state...

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    By "Losers," you appear to mean the properly educated, marketably skilled, accomplished, tolerant, modern, reality-based residents . . .

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    So...people who aren't you, I take it?

  • BigChiefWahoo||

    "Tolerant". Got your own personal and idiosyncratic dictionary, now, Rev?

  • Mark22||

    you appear to mean the properly educated, marketably skilled, accomplished, tolerant, modern, reality-based residents . . .

    Just how the USSR and Nazi Germany described themselves!

  • EscherEnigma||

    Then North California has too low of a population.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    It will be rejected by national Republicans because the split turns two Democrat Senators into six.

    If the coastal split put all of SF and LA and Sacramento into one shithole, and put the rest of the state into a rural shithole, it would balance out and have some chance of acceptance.

  • Mark22||

    That would leave CA two Democratic senators short.

    The only way to make this happen is to create two Democratic leaning states and one Republican leaning one.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Put SF/Sacramento in Cal, so NorCal is GOP. SoCal is probably a split.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Nope, nope, nope. This is why we need FOUR States, for example: Jefferson, North Cal (including SF and Sac'to), Cal/Central Cal (NOT including LA or Santa Barbara Counties, but including Santa Clara County), and South Cal (including Santa Barbara and LA Counties).

  • EscherEnigma||

    The problem with "Jefferson State" is population. Using the 21 counties that have requested Independence in the past few years, you get a population of 1.7 million.

    For reference, California currently has ~40 million, and the proposed 3-way split would give state populations ranging from 12 to 14 million.

    "Jefferson" has a better chance of jumping ship to Nevada then becoming it's own state.

  • DaveSs||

    Doubtful that would be deemed acceptable to progs.

    Such a thing would result in +2 R in the senate.
    It would also mean a reduction of 5-10 guaranteed D electoral votes.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    I thought we settled this in the Civil War!

  • creech||

    Brer Democrabbit: "Please don't throw me in the briar patch." Maybe the Dems would agree to such a scheme, while demanding, of course, that D.C. and Puerto Rico also become states and, maybe, split East and West Texas. And the Stupid Party would go for it.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    I say all the western states (everything west of the Mississippi) should be broken up into smaller states. More legislatures mean the 2 major national parties will have a hard time controlling legislators. Local parties may spring up and come to national prominence. And also during this the federal government should return most federal lands to the states and give the citizens of DC full voting rights.

  • BYODB||

    Or they could just uncap Congress since the more people each representative theoretically represents the less any one of those peoples opinion matters.

    Capping congressional seats was a huge mistake, right up there with making senate seats determined by direct elections.

  • JFree||

    This. The ACTUAL 1st Amendment was about the size of the House but it was sent to the states with a probably deliberate typo - nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons. when it actually read nor less than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons. as voted on by that Congress.

    So it remains unratified today. House would have been 2120 critters by 1920 - and 6514 today.

  • perlchpr||

    I've thought this several times before. There are numerous counties in my state of New Mexico which are significantly larger than several states on the East Coast.

    Of course, in terms of population, they're almost vacant.

  • ||

    ^ This. Los Angeles County is both larger and more populous than several northeastern states. If CA can't be broken up, perhaps we should advocate that NY, CT, NJ, MA, NH, VT, ME and RI be merged. Or PA, MD, DE, VA, and WVA. You get my drift.

  • Zeb||

    NY, CT, NJ, MA, NH, VT, ME and RI be merged

    NH and ME really don't deserve that.

  • ||

    I considered exempting them, but then NH and ME would be a single, pretty small and mostly unpopulated state. Which may be okay - I may decide to tolerate that when I am king.

  • Zeb||

    Still more people than WY, ND or AK.

  • EscherEnigma||

    I'm up for a constitutional amendment regarding regular redrawing of state lines to try and re-balance population between the states of the continental US. But you have to realize two things.

    (1) It will dis-empower "rural" voters. Currently they have an out-sized in electoral politics because of the big-state/small-state dynamic.
    (2) It kills what little lip-service we have to "Federalism" deader then a door nail.

  • Rat on a train||

    San Bernardino is the largest county (Alaska has larger boroughs) in the US, is larger than 9 states, and is larger than the 4 smallest states combined.

  • SRoach||

    In my opinion, residents of DC should be treated as residents of Maryland for purposes of voting and representation.
    If DC is made a state, the government should, but won't, move the capital to a new compromise position.

    I think all the well-populated territories of the US should be given a solid path to statehood, regardless of the political leaning of those territories. To do otherwise is unjust.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    He'll no, I live in MD we gave them up for damn good reason and called "no give backs". Let VA have them as punishment for reniging on their commitment to give land to DC.

  • Rat on a train||

    VA didn't renig. VA gave Alexandria County to DC. Congress gave it back in 1846.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Move DC to Wyoming. There's not enough folks there to protest.

  • BYODB||

    There is essentially zero percent chance this will happen, much like how Texas isn't going to suddenly decide to splinter itself.


    Although, Democrats not supporting such a measure could very well indicate that they're fully aware that their stranglehold on California would be weakened by such a split even though there's a real case to be made that it could expand their control as they would gain, at the very least, senate seats after the split.


    It's an admission that the city-states of California rule the peasants in the countryside as they see fit, with little regard for what they think. In fairness, this is not unique to California either it's just much more one sided.

  • Calidissident||

    Rural areas would have little control in all 3 of these new states. NorCal is dominated by the Bay Area and Sacramento. Cal is dominated by LA. SoCal is dominated by SD, OC, and the IE. The rural areas get split up here so they still don't have much say.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    They don't get much say because they don't have many people, lack economic heft, and don't contribute much in the way of attractive ideas.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    You don't get much say because you don't have any friends, lack economic viability, and contribute nothing but unattractive ideas.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    If they're so lacking in everything, why do the three proposed states want them?

  • I'm Not Sure||

    To keep the rural folk under their thumbs and from doing something (electing the wrong sort of people, perhaps?) the progtards don't like.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Draper probably didn't think "and these counties will revert to non-state territories" would go over well, so they had to do *something* with them.

  • BYODB||

    No doubt, which makes it a curious case when Democrats don't want to see their power increased on the national stage but, I suspect, the real devil is the details and one insolvent state is easier to deal with rather than three of them and they'd rather not split up their tax base.

  • Calidissident||

    I think it's a combination of things:

    1. Splitting up the state means giving up power, potential uncertainty for some pols in their landing spot in the new states, etc.

    2. Federally, this would like benefit Dems in the Senate, but it could hurt them in the EC if the GOP nominates a candidate that can appeal to the SoCal state enough to win (which probably isn't Trump, but Romney did get more votes than in 2012 than Obama did, so it's doable).

    3. Splitting LA from the OC and to a lesser extent the IE would probably be a clusterfuck in terms of logistics and organization.

    4. Emotional attachment to the idea of one, united California.

    I'm not inherently against the idea of splitting up the state, but I don't think this is a good proposal for doing it.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Rural areas would have little control in all 3 of these new states.


    Well, yeah. Defining "rural" is never easy, but if we use the US Census defintiion as a starting point we get some 5 million rural folks in the state ([Link]). That's roughly an eighth of the state's population.

    In order for that "rural vote" to be the majority of any state, you'd either have to divide the state very unevenly population-wise, or split the state into four states and gerrymander the fuck out of the new state lines to pack all the rural voters from the entire state into one of them.

    Now, if you choose a more lax definition of "rural" then the Census, then the task gets easier, but not by much. There just aren't enough "rural" folk here, and they're spread too thin.

    Or to put it another way... the problem that rural voters in California face is that there aren't enough of them. Splitting the state can't fix that. A more realistic goal would be to split off from California and given over to Nevada or Arizona.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Voters cannot simply decide to break up a state in a simple majority vote.

    Too many simples in a sentence. One demerit.

  • BigChiefWahoo||

    But I would argue that voters COULD establish two(or more) more-or-less autonomous subdivisions within one state without any input from the Congress The problem is that factions that view themselves as majorities are loathe to give up dominance over areas controlled by other factions. The stuff about transfer/transaction costs is, while plausible, just a convenient excuse to maintain the politicalstatus quo

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    When Brexit happened, I argued that British citizens absolutely had a right to decide whether they wanted to remain part of the European Union, but I didn't think much about how I might have voted if I had lived there.

    OMG. Shackfrod is a globalist now. What is going on with this publication?

  • gormadoc||

    TDS! TDS!

  • kevrob||

    The logic of Brexit could be applied to the entire United Kingdom. Say hello to the Sovereign States of England, Wales and Scotland, with Northern Ireland trying to figure out if it can be England-Over-The-Sea, or finally join the rest of Ireland. Then the Cornish and the Manx could start harrumphing about, at least local autonomy. The Scots did vote to stay in a while back, but they are not happy about "leaving Europe." Scotland voted 2-1 to stay in the EU, and many think changed circumstances justify an independence revote.

  • sarcasmic||

    Add more stars to the flag? Fifty two nifty United States?

    Never gonna happen. Only because fifty has an appeal that fifty two does not.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Combine the Dakotas and the Carolinas. Also put the Virginias together and add Puerto Rico if you want.

  • SRoach||

    You could visit a different state every week.

  • kevrob||

    Also, special "learn all the states" decks of playing cards.

    Can't have DC Statehood. We need that for the joker!

  • VinniUSMC||

    California is welcome to break up into as many groupthink states as it wants to, as soon as they secede.

    The goal is to create 3 safely Democrat states, to increase their political influence in DC. They don't give a fly crap about providing a representative government for the residents of the state. If they did, California would be split up into 2 states. The part of the state on the coast from LA to SF, and then everything else.

  • ||

    The goal is to create 3 safely Democrat states, to increase their political influence in DC.

    Which is why the Democrats are against it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't see them being three safely Democrat states but it would be a net gain representation in the Senate. Unfortunately for them, as stated above, it would be a loss of a single guaranteed 55-vote block in the electoral college.

  • ||

    it would be a loss of a single guaranteed 55-vote block in the electoral college

    That may be the main thing, right there. But I'm not convinced all six Senate seats would be "safely" Democratic, and I suspect the DNC isn't convinced, either. Likely Democratic, but not "in the bag" Democratic like the two we have now are.

  • BigChiefWahoo||

    I think that's true. I don't think anyone can predict how politics would/might develop in any of the resulting states once they are separated.

  • BYODB||

    I suspect that California Democrats are probably not interested in splitting up their tax revenues between three different states. I doubt the national parties concerns are able to override the parties in-state interests when it really comes down to it.

  • DarrenM||

    Four would be Democratic. The other two would be toss-ups.

  • JFree||

    They don't give a fly crap about providing a representative government for the residents of the state.

    It prob ain't about the Dems. If Californians themselves gave a crap about their own representation, then they'd amend their own Constitution so that their lower house is not capped at 80 critters

    80 critters in 1880 with population of 864,000 was 10,000 peeps per critter
    80 critters in 2018 is now 493,700 peeps per critter. 98% loss of voice/representation for the individual

    CA is now the 3rd LEAST representative legislature in the world (behind India and the US House). China does better. NH has more actual critters.

  • kevrob||

    China may be more representative than California facially, but these party functionaries gain their seats through convoluted indirect election . The National People's Congress is a rubber stamp .

  • Rhywun||

    Sigh. Can't we just advocate removing as much power from politicians as possible, instead of wasting time on these region-war fantasies? Focus on the actual problem.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    As soon as I saw something about a proposal to split California into more than one state, my first thought was, "Hmmm, I wonder how they'll try to gerrymander it to keep the Central Valley & the northern part of the state firmly under the thumb of the Democratic Party."

  • EscherEnigma||

    I really like how many commentators are trying to cast this as some Democrat power-grab, ignoring that the Democratic Party is explicitly against this.

    Democrats no more want to break up California then Republicans want to break up Texas. The folks that do want to break the states up largely have non-partisan goals.

    In this case, Tim Draper wants to stop spending Silicon Valley tax money on so many poor folk in the rest of the state. The blue/red fall-out is interesting, but it's not the aim.

    Which isn't to say you shouldn't think about it, but y'all should stop trying to frame this as a Democrat power-grab.

  • Empress Trudy||

    California should secede and THEN break into between 3 and 6 smaller countries,

  • Unemployed Armenian Tranny||

    This movement has been high-jacked by the progressives. The propossed partition will not aleviate the problems that gave rise to the movement - namely, as pictured Sandiego, Los Angeles and San Fransisco will still dominate the new states with the same brand of politics that plague the current whole state. Clearly this has been recognized as an opportunity to rest control of the Senate from the GOP on a long term basis, while simultaneous destroying the posibility of adding one or more new "red- states" to the mix. A fatalist yet bold, double-pronged strategy.

  • ranrod||

    beter known as the coming AZTLAN

    after secession it will be easier for them to be annexed by Mexico...

    Libertarians/Leftists love the idea............

  • EscherEnigma||

    I thought we were heading towards Snow Crash, not Shadowun?

  • EscherEnigma||

    I thought we were heading towards Snow Crash, not Shadowun?

  • Spookk||

    No way would I want the inbred hillbillies of extreme N. CA to have any more say over anything than they do now.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    And not one of them will elect a Libertarian.

  • Árboles de la Barranca||

    Breaking news: Montana, Idaho, initiate ballot measures to break each state up into ten parts. California forced to reconsider its breakup plan - initiates a new ballot measure which creates one hundred separate state entities. New York and Mississippi considering breakup options...

    You can't beat our Senators!

  • BILKER||

    here is the BEST solution for that.
    take a 50 mile wide swath from the center of the golden gate bridge to the east limit of sacramento and everything south of the san gabriels , santa monicas, west of the 15 freeway and call it Kaliforniastan. call whats left the great state of Jefferson. Jefferson will be free. you know what Kaliforniastan will be. it will still be ruled by all the traitorous democrat/socialist/progressives. call it the USSD, the union of soviet socialist democrats.
    the proposed way creates two more democrat/socialist/progressive ruled anti constitution, anti bill of rights states.
    the above method lumps all the traitorous democrat/socialist/progressives into one state and frees the rest of what was the great state of California.
    and BTW f*ck deniro. MAGA

  • NoVaNick||

    Just break it up into coastal and inland Cali-that's pretty much how its culturally divided anyway. The inland parts can get rich selling water, food, and electricity to the coastal elites, and disposing of their trash too. I suspect that a lot of folks living on the coast might move inland though to avoid paying the higher taxes they will impose to support all their government programs, which should free up more housing for anyone who still wants to move there.

    At the same time, I propose creating a new state out of the DC metro region: include Montgomery and PG counties in Maryland, and Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax from Virginia. Yes-that will create 4 new prog dem senators, but will be balanced by more conservative/libertarian senators from Inland Cali, and will also turn Virginia back to being a red state, and Maryland a purple state.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online