California may not be America’s largest state by way of geography [that honors goes to Alaska by a wide margin], but for all purposes it is. Alaska is too removed from the continental homeland and California dominates the West Coast in a manner that no East Coast state, not even New York, does.
Were it its own country, California would be one of the world’s largest economies, home to the world’s main IT hub, its wine consumed across the global, and additionally the seat of the world’s most important entertainment industry. Its economy is dynamic and it often sets trends for the rest of the country. But is it too big?
For decades the issue of whether California should be two instead of one state has been debated since the territory was admitted as a state in 1850. The most prominent of these debates took place in 1941 when it was seriously considered whether northern Californian counties should be merged with southern Oregonian counties to form the 51st state of Jefferson; named after, of course, the writer of the Declaration of Independence and America’ third President Thomas Jefferson. But then Pearl Harbor sent the nation off to World War II and the plan was forgotten. Back then the dispute was between the northern and southern areas of the state, and it revolved around the matter of water irrigation. This issue of water moving down south has since been resolved, but that has not ended the debate.
Whether California should be two states has since been revived into a hoped-for ballot initiative. The matter is not north or south anymore, but east and west. And not water, but cultural values.
California is know for its liberal politics. But in a county-by-county basis, the state overwhelmingly votes Republican. The Democrats wins because the coastal liberal counties are more populated.
[The 2004 county-by-county vote. Democrat John Kerry won counties colored in blue, Bush in red. Obama did better than Kerry, but the map did not change significantly.]
Those coastal counties often dominate state politics. And because they are liberals, they prefer high taxes, high spending and an intrusive, ever-expanding set of do-gooder regulations.
The people in the eastern part of the state are getting quite frustrated with effect San Francisco and Malibu liberals seeking to impose more taxes and state controls.
The final straw was a ballot measure passed last November against the close confinement of farm animals, which is just the sort of thing that the coast’s “agriculturally uneducated city dwellers” like to foist on the people who feed them, says William Maze, a former state assemblyman.
The angry has now grown into a movement to separate the coastal counties from San Francisco to Los Angeles into a 51st state, to be named whatever residents deem, and the rest of the state will remain California.
The face behind the movement is 90-year old Central Valley farmer Virgil Rogers, who forebears came from Oklahoma.
The initiative is called Downsize California and Mr. Rogers hopes – and believes – they will get the 700,000 signatories needed to place a ballot for the 2012 election.
Will they succeed? Such a reality would be unbelievable even in a Hollywood film.
Sources: Of Ossis and Wessis.