Sunday, October 05, 2008

More states, less filling

There's a story in the SF Chronic about a political movement in the northernmost counties of California and the southernmost counties of Oregon seceding from their respective states to create the fifty-first state of "Jefferson".

Their complaints are that the two states don't understand the people there in the state of Jefferson, and are somehow a drag on their economy. This is mostly logging country, with a few marijuana farms and meth labs hidden away in the foliage up there.

There certainly is a difference in culture, and they might as well be a thousand miles away from San Francisco (in reality, maybe three hundred miles). There was a Jefferson statehood movement back in the early forties before Pearl Harbor wiped it from everyone's mind.

The immediate problem is that there is no way that a Democratic majority in Congress would allow this to pass on its own. Jefferson is rural and conservative and would probably send nothing but Republicans to Washington.

The idea would be a better sell if you threw in statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It would make more sense to include Washington, D.C. as part of Maryland, but Republicans wouldn't like all those Democratic voters electing Maryland's Senators. And by culling Republican voters from both Oregon and California it would pretty much guarantee only Democratic senators from both states.

But why stop there? Someone pointed out that because of the size of California Barbara Boxer won her Senate seat by a margin equaling the votes that put something like a dozen Republican Senators into the Senate. (I don't have a link for this, but read it a couple of years ago.) The point is that California has a lot of voters and gets only two Senators. San Jose proper has about as many people as Alaska. So if we're slicing and dicing California why not bifurcate what's left after Jefferson leaves and make North California and South California?

Okay, let's check the math here. Jefferson adds two Republican Senators but pushes Oregon into the most-likely Democratic column. Dividing California adds two more Democratic Senators. The District of Columbia as a state adds two more Democratic Senators (or, as part of Maryland practically guarantees Dems from that state). Puerto Rico means two more Democratic Senators. And this doesn't count the House of Representatives.

And while we're at it, let's throw in Guam and all those protectorates in the Pacific.

So this is why Jefferson doesn't have much chance now. There are other places with better arguments for statehood, and Jefferson would have to come in as a package deal. Not only would Republicans block that deal. Even if Jefferson came in as a solid Republican state it would make the other states around it a lot more reliably Democratic. In short, Jefferson is a nice fantasy. It's got as much chance of happening as Uncle Junior's amorous fantasies about Angie Dickinson.

(cross-posted at South Of Heaven)


At October 05, 2008 1:50 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

I think we should have a new state called Nixon, and populate it with disgraced politicians.

They would get Senators and a congressman, but by general agreement they would represent the residents of D.C. instead, thus poetically addressing a long-standing injustice and obviating the need for a constitutional amendment.

At October 06, 2008 7:22 PM, Blogger Spartacus O'Neal said...

Secession campaigns -- forming new counties or states -- have since the Reagan era been used as organizing drives to obtain lists of names and funds for right-wing agendas. Sometimes the spear-carriers, those who believe the hoax and get excited enough to threaten opponents, are looking for a windfall economic opportunity. But the only ones who usually profit from these bogus campaigns are the social movement entrepreneurs and their industry backers. What you'll often see in their aftermath is a rightward or criminal shift in public policy rules and regulations as a result of the consolidation or seizure of political power.


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