It was bound to happen sooner or later. Talk of splitting up California six ways would garner serious attention. By itself, California has the eighth largest economy in the world and is larger than some countries, like Switzerland, Madagascar and North Korea. As such, its centralized government from Sacramento can become extremely problematic, as is being demonstrated with California’s current drought situation.
What venture capitalist Tim Draper of Silicon Valley is trying to get on the ballot is a proposal to split California into six separate states, divided along existing county lines. The proposed separate states are from top to bottom, left to right: Jefferson, North CA, Silicon Valley, Central CA, West CA and South CA. Examples of where some major cities would fall in the split is: Sacramento and North CA, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and West CA and San Diego and South CA.
“California, as it is, is ungovernable.” This statement by Draper to ABC News prefaces his theory that Sacramento cannot keep up with the social and political issues of the various disparate regions of the state. For example, the vastly rural and agricultural Northern California region has different needs from mostly urban Southern California.
Democracy, being the creature that it is, is not perfect. It works better on a smaller scale than a larger one simply because representation becomes more focused on specific needs of a smaller constituent as opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach that is often necessary for larger constituents.
In terms of implementation, what problems and solutions does the actual splitting up of California six ways pose? In the short term, it is expensive. Existing debt and revenues have to be apportioned according to the different regions that would make up the new states. There is also the matter of six new senators being added to Washington, which is bound to cause problems with partisan balance issues all on its own with smaller states such as Delaware and Rhode Island.
In the long run, however, decentralizing the California government has the distinct advantage of distributing the responsibilities of caring for its people among six separate government entities. It also makes it easier for people to move from a state that may not fit a particular need to one that does. Switzerland, with its 26 states, or Cantons, is a prime example of a successful decentralized democracy at work.
At the moment, Draper is sponsoring a grassroots effort to get the proposal of the California split onto the ballot. It will take the signatures of over 800,000 registered voters, collected in 150 days or by July 18, 2014, to get the measure on the ballot. He is hopeful because there are already several existing movements to create new states.
Democracy, as it should be, is a constant work in progress, and beyond what is set forth in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, nothing is ever set in stone. Even those documents that are the cornerstones of our society are subject to change if enough voices call for it. Case in point: the amendments.
So, right now, the notion of splitting California into six smaller states might have the average American saying, “Wait… what?” but the reality may be closer than imagined.
By Lee Birdine