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.