New Castle News


May 30, 2014

Our Opinion: Efforts to form new states are destined to go nowhere

NEW CASTLE — Every now and then, talk of secession emerges somewhere in America.

On occasion, this involves calls to break away from the United States. Often, these are in the South, where some people appear to be determined to relive the Civil War.

And why not? It went so well for the South the first time.

But more often, secessionist efforts involve regions breaking away from their states. One such example is taking shape now in California.

Voters in two northern counties in that state are to cast ballots on advisory referendums next week that would call for joining other counties in that region in an attempt to break away from Sacramento and form a 51st state, which they are calling Jefferson.

It seems that northern Californians are generally unhappy with matters at the state level. The region is largely rural and conservative, where the more heavily populated areas along the southern and western coast of the state tend to have the political leverage.

Many residents in the northern part of California believe they would be better off if they could carve out their own separate state and conduct their affairs accordingly. But do they credibly think anything remotely along those lines will happen?

Plenty of states have their internal divisions that are loosely based on regionalism. Western Pennsylvania, for instance, routinely claims it’s getting short shrift in Harrisburg, where the more populated Philadelphia area wields considerable clout.

And this attitude is not limited to states. Counties sometimes experience these sorts of disagreements and divisions. And even individual municipalities can reach the point of a breakup.

But dividing a state is far more significant than altering a municipal boundary.

Let’s suppose, for example, the folks in northern California actually vote to secede. And let’s suppose even further that the rest of the state agrees to it. (Something we assume is highly unlikely.)

Why in the world would other states agree to this scenario and thus weaken their political status? Breaking up California into two states would give it double the number of senators, for instance. There would be other adjustments as well that would presumably provide Californians with an edge over residents in other states.

And wouldn’t this move encourage similar secessionists efforts in other parts of the country? Where would it end and why would it end? Why not a state for everyone?

Living in a democracy does not mean getting your own way on matters. It means having the ability to engage with others and come to certain agreements.

It also means you have the ability to persuade others to your point of view. But you’re not likely to achieve that goal by trying to cut yourself off from the majority.

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