walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Feed
Features
Reviews
Podcast
Fixing the Golden State
Cutting California Down To Size

One California venture capitalist has latched on to an idea we quite like: splitting up California into a number of different states. As CNN reports, Tim Draper has proposed a ballot initiative to create six states out of the former Golden State:

The proposal calls for the creation of new states called Silicon Valley and West California that would be anchored by the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Orange County and San Diego would be part of the new state of South California. To the north, remaining counties would be divided into regions called Central California, North California and Jefferson.

Why now? According to the proposed ballot initiative Draper filed earlier this month, the Golden State has been rendered “nearly ungovernable” by social and economic changes.

We may disagree with the boundaries somewhat, but the idea is a sound one—indeed, it’s potentially one of the most important US reform possibilities out there. California’s size creates a whole host of governance problems. The sheer number of cities and TV markets makes statewide elections extremely expensive and vulnerable to the influence of special interests; the competing priorities of the costal and inland regions lead to policies that suit the interests of some regions to the detriment of others. More broadly, the state’s regions and population are so diverse that it’s nearly impossible for any politician or party to balance the competing interests and needs of all of them. If California wants a truly representative government it will need to slim down, by a lot.

Like all important reforms, this will take a while, but it would make governance more democratic and accountable. And there’s no need to stop with California: a number of states (Florida, Texas, and New York come to mind) have grown unmanageably large with huge regional differences. Sorting out the logistics will be difficult, but it’s a small price to pay for significant improvements in government.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Anthony

    This is the stupid thing that this blog has posted. What a joke.

    • rheddles

      I agree, Anthony. But at least they allowed you to post it.

    • GodisanAmerican

      You don’t understand. CA with those people who are not white enough, not rich enough, not male enough ( big gun, big hat (no cattle), big truck (but small p)) are smothering republican voters. As GOP has gone to crazies, it find it impossible to win ca. Just compare the number great universities CA has with Texas or any red state, you will get the idea why wingnuts hate ca. Education bad, hunting good.

      • lessthantolerant

        Hilarious, you poor liberals suffer from penis envy and will always want to be man wannabes.

  • Dan

    Texas doesn’t belong in the same discussion as California and New York when it comes to unmanageable governance.

  • rheddles

    I doubt you’d find much enthusiasm for this in Texas. Illinois, perhaps.

  • Peripatetic

    “If California wants a truly representative government it will need to slim down, by a lot.”

    That’s a big “if”. Conceptually, from the beginning of liberal political philosophy, liberalism has been either hostile (Hobbes) or indifferent (Locke) to the value of democracy. Contemporary liberals — especially elite contemporary liberals — will not readily abandon, divide, or disperse the leadership positions available in a Leviathan.

  • Bruno_Behrend

    Leaving aside the difficulty of the task and the expense of running the proper campaign, the idea is brilliant.

    First, one can easily make the case that this dramatically expands representation of everyone in CA, both at the (new) state, and Federal level. It is very pro-democracy and pro-representative republic.

    Next, it adds 10 new senators (6 new states X 2) – (Old CA X 2) = 10.

    It isn’t hard to see how this would make the Senate more representative and the GOP and/or new parties more competitive.

  • Anthony

    To not be confused, I have no judgment on post but ideas can widen your vision.

    • rheddles

      Are you in Colorado?

      • Anthony

        No, but I think its a fine state.

    • TommyTwo

      The arrival of another poster with your name was unfortunate, but fear not: it is difficult to confuse the two of you. Case in point. :-)

      • Anthony

        Thanks and Happy New Year.

      • Corlyss

        There’s two of him?

  • mgoodfel

    I don’t think we need to create new states — we have lots of small ones already. Plus, the amount of computer software that would need to be adjusted for new states is mind boggling.

    So, just push everything north of Sacramento into Oregon. Push everything in the central valley and east into Nevada. Problem solved.

    • B-Sabre

      Oh, come on. It can’t be more complicated than a national health care enrollment system…..

  • GodisanAmerican

    The reform is needed in the opposite direction. Combine North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Wisconsin into one state. Alabama and Mississippi, combine them into one state red state.

  • Fat_Man

    As a realistic matter, I think the idea of splitting California into separate states would be a non-starter in Congress as long as the California is solidly in the grip of the Democrat party. The Republicans would not willingly hand the Democrats 10 senators.

    Given that constraint, is there anything that could be done. Well, California could create regions that contain multiple counties and devolve most of the state’s power on the regions. Many states give cities much of the state’s power. I don’t see why regional governments would be much different.

    Of course the devil here is in the details. For instance, the central state government would need to retain some tax revenue to pay off its horrendous debts. What would happen to CalPers? Who would pay for that monstrosity? What becomes of all of the lunatic overcomplicated provisions that the voters have added to the California State constitution?

    Incidentally anyone who is interested in this topic should look at the map drawn by urban planner/artist Neil Freeman showing what the US would look like if there were 50 states with equal populations:

    http://fakeisthenewreal.org/reform/

  • Corlyss

    Two words for the advocates: No Way. Even if the residents wanted it, the Congress will NEVER go along with it.

  • Eightman

    What is needed is Thomas Sowell’s proposal for an amiable “National Divorce”. The United States should be divided into Red States and Failed States. The Red States would reform into the new United States based on sound constitutional principles as envisioned by the founding fathers. The Blue (failed) States would be allowed to pursue their Marxist fantasies to their bitter end.

    If and when the populace of a Failed State shows political maturity and rejects the Democrat (rhymes with rat) governing philosophy (Marxism) a whole or part of its territory may be readmitted to the new United States.

  • lessthantolerant

    California should be broken into three states, Southern central and Northern. Central should consist of the region from LA to Sacramento. Watching the goings on of Central should be amusing. I hope California succeeds at this break up.

  • free_agent

    My guess is that the parts of California that inherit pension obligations will fail and the ones that do not inherit pension obligations will succeed.

  • http://www.federaleagent86.blogspot.com/ Federale

    Six states is all too much. A two-State solution would be best; Coastal counties less Humbolt, Medecino, and Del Norte counties make one State, with the rest in the other. This will be an accurate cultural separation. One would be Repubican and the other Demoncrat.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2014 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service