Monday, June 01, 2009

Splitting Up California

The San Francisco Bay Guardian is one of those alt-weeklies that you can pick up in any restaurant or lobby in the Bay Area, and many liberal establishments outside of the Bay Area. It's usually one of those papers in which I will find nothing with which I can agree.

Yet, even though I don't agree with the slant or specifics of this article, it's hard to disagree with the conclusion:

Over the past few months, a wide range of proposals have cropped up, including a call for a new Constitutional convention and a radical restructuring of the state Legislature. And the prospect of 60 million people eventually living in this dysfunctional political nightmare has led even relatively moderate thinkers to consider the most intriguing, and problematic, option of all: should we break up the state of California?

I don't think we need 6 states; two will suffice: Coastal California and Inland California. In just about every election save the special election of a few weeks ago, every election map looks just about the same--most of the coastal counties (and a couple that border them) vote liberal, and most of the inland counties vote conservative. There's a natural political split there.

But liberals would never allow this split, because Inland California would elect two Republican senators fairly reliably. What would be the benefit to Democrats?

OK, so that's the idea. I like it, and have for years, but it's not going to happen any time soon. Let's look at just one example of liberal bias in this article, because it's so blatant it's funny:

The northern counties could form their state of Jefferson, where pot would be legal and gun control would be limited. The coastal communities from, say, Sonoma down to Los Angeles would have a state with a rational tax policy, good public schools, healthy social services, same-sex marriage, and liberal social policies. The Central Valley, the Inland Empire, and San Diego could have their GOP heaven of low taxes and limited services — until they saw what it was doing to their lives.

"The danger, of course, is that you'd be creating a Mississippi in the Central Valley," Cain said.

Of course! All liberal areas (NYC! Chicago! San Francisco! Los Angeles!) are havens of peace, justice, and high quality government, and all conservative areas (Utah! Florida! Texas!) are horrible places to live, with people fending for themselves because government won't do squat for them. Classic!


Stopped Clock said...

I find it interesting that "gun control would be limited" in the state of Jefferson. Is there an anomalous area of pro-gun libertarian type Democrats up there? Or did the author of the article just make a mistake? Also why is San Diego included in the Republican zone? Please help a confused reader from New England.

Darren said...

Gun *control* would be limited. That part of California is mostly rural, and personal firearms are recognized as a Constitutional right.

San Diego is a relatively conservative area--maybe the naval base there has something to do with that, I don't know. But San Diego and Orange County are both relatively conservative, but Orange County is becoming less so.

mazenko said...

It's a bit of diversion to compare cities like NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to states like Utah, Florida, Texas. Density matters, as any analysis of police reports shows that crime increases as density increases.

It's also noteworthy that the greatest concentrations of wealth and the least demand for social services are in the liberal areas (New England and West Coast) while the greatest poverty and most demand for money and services from the federal government is in the conservative areas.

Liberal communities tend to pay the most in taxes and receive the littlest benefit. Interestingly, data shows that the universal health insurance proposed by the Obama administration would benefit the poor conservative areas the most - areas that request the most federal aid.

The liberal areas just don't complain as much.

Darren said...

Liberal areas just don't complain as much? Have you ever *been* to San Francisco?

Also, if I could have identifited a large conservative city, I'd have done so. But large, dense areas are exactly those in which people depend on the government to do everything for them. Less dense (in more ways than one) areas tend to be more conservative.

I'm not convinced Mississippi is poor because of its Republican government. It was poor when Democrats ran it for over a hundred years after the Civil War.

neko said...

Speaking for one of the other 49 states, we would love for you guys to be broken into at least two separate states.

(If nothing else, we'd love it if you would split your electoral votes like Nebraska and Maine does.)

Darren said...

So would I. Whoever wins each congressional district gets 1 elector, and whoever wins the state vote overall gets the 2 "senator" electors.

Never happen, for the same reason splitting up the state won't--it would help Republicans.

Eric W. said...

I'll take one half, and our intrepid blogger can have the other half. Deal?

Darren said...

Your sister will want the liberal half.

maxutils said...

What I found interesting about this article was that, though the initial premise was that CA had become too cumbersome to govern due to size and gerrymandering, all of the potential splits offered a ridiculously long, skinny coastal region and a huge bloated inland region.

So, how exactly does that solve either size or gerrymandering issues? All it does is put all the Democrats together (as of now) and all the Republicans (as of now)together. This would be nothing more than an overt gerrymander, and would require that at least two state entitities be responsible for a region that stretches from at least Marin/Sacramento down to San Diego, where everything gets rubberstamped without debate.

To add to the author's snideness, I think those in the costal region would vote themselves all the services they covet, until the movie and high tech regions decided they'd have enough of their taxation; the inland farmers would probably realize that their tax base was not sufficent to provide services over such a geographically large region.

How about splitting the state into North and South, right around Stockton or Los Banos? You'd have smaller, geographically contiguous regions with relatively balanced numbers of Ds and Rs . . .toss in districts that look life squares, and you might have something.

neko said...

Another problem would be figuring out how to fit another star on the flag... You guys may need to split into six states just to avoid star placement issues.

Darren said...

What would be wrong with three concentric circles, each with 17 stars? Do you have issues with the number 17? Or is it circles you don't like?

You're circle-ist.

neko said...

They'd have to be really tiny stars...

maxutils said...

There is no way three concentric circles with 17 stars would fit.

Darren said...

*No* way? It's *impossible*?

neko said...

I discussed this with a friend of mine this morning and he's heard that they already have designs ready for up to 55 states. Not sure where he got this info. I interested to look up more info.

He said that a 51 state flag would consist of alternating rows of eight and nine stars.

maxutils said...

Pretty sure, unless you want to dramatically change the flag's proportions or the size of the stars.

neko said...

In looking up more info on this, I have found that a surprising number of people believe that the United States consists of 52 states! I not sure if they are thinking of playing cards or Miss America contestants, but there appears to be oft repeated misinformation or a strangely held belief about 52 US states!

(The obvious exception is Obama, who has publically stated that there are 57 states.)