Six Californias? Silicon Valley Investor Wants to Break Up the Golden State

Last election, the question of states splitting came into the national spotlight when five counties voted to secede from Colorado and form their own state.  The measure failed, but it got people nationwide talking.  Fifty-first State Initiatives emerged in New York, Virginia, Maryland and more.  Some in California have proposed a split for years, with the State of Jefferson first proposed in 1941.  Now, however, Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper is proposing something much more extreme.

The State of Jefferson remains in his plan, and North California, Central California, Silicon Valley, West California and South California are added to the list.  This would create six states with more connected cultural, economic and social bases, with Hollywood separated from the tech areas separated from agricultural regions.  Draper has set up a campaign website for his initiative, and he will soon submit his proposal to California’s attorney general office.

Draper cites five core reasons for his proposal.  The number of constituents per Senator in California is about six. The proposal would also allow each state to “start fresh.”  This is an often-overlooked idea, but America’s borders have remained particularly stagnant during the time of the most dynamic population growth in its history.  Hitting a “refresh” button would help people on the left and right, alike.

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On a more ideological level, he says that splitting California would encourage competition and decrease the monopolization of power.  Decisions can be relevant to the specific populations of each state, and the newfound competition among the states could help encourage state governments to adopt more popular policies.  Smaller states, for a number of reasons, will be easier to hold accountable than California.

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Unsurprisingly, a majority in California opposes the bold initiative, but Draper’s proposal has a number of advantages over Northern Colorado’s failed secession attempt.  Most obviously, Draper’s wealth will help avoid the financial problems many ballot initiatives face.  It can take millions of dollars for a proposal to even get on California’s ballot, but Draper has millions of dollars and a reputable name to go with it.  Draper’s proposal will also avoid the simplistic “balance of the Senate” argument people used against the unashamedly right-wing Colorado secession attempt.

The proposal also moves one step toward avoiding one pitfall Northern Colorado faced.  Colorado’s 51st State Initiative encouraged as many counties as possible to join the attempt to join a single state.  Five of eleven counties voted to secede and failed.  Five of nine counties could have passed to the next step.  By splitting the fate of different groups’ secession attempts, Draper increases the possibility of each individual state initiative passing.

Tim Draper’s Six Californias proposal may not pass.  In fact, it probably won’t on the first attempt.  It is a step in the right direction, however, and it shows that Northern Colorado’s secession attempt was actually relevant and successful.  The secession idea, for the first time since West Virginia split from Virginia, is again a part of the national political discourse. This demonstrates that Americans are not satisfied with the current government. They want less government and thirst for more individual freedom.

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