How a new ballot measure would split California three ways
All proposals to split California into multiple states share the same defect: a fixation with geography.
The new “Cal 3” initiative, which would create three states, is simply the latest measure to make the mistake (the first was pre-Civil War) of dividing us up by regions.
The splitters’ logic: Californians are unhappy because we live in a state with too many people who don’t understand us because they’re too different. Splitters suggest we’d be happier if only we lived in smaller Californias where more people were like us.
Why not four different Californias, each ruled by a musical diva? I’d live in Beyonceland, but would respect those who chose to KatyPerryville or TaylorSwiftopia.
The problem is that California’s regions are simply too vast and too diverse. No matter how you split us geographically, millions of us would remain trapped in states with too many people with whom we don’t agree.
But don’t give up on splitting the state. Just do it democratically. Let every Californian choose their state, regardless of residence. If California really is a state of mind, doesn’t each mind deserve its own state?
The hard part would be divining the right categories for division. To start, let’s stipulate that California shouldn’t divide by age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion or race, since forming states on a discriminatory basis is probably unconstitutional, even under President Trump.mansions
How about income? The idea intrigues: Why not give the billionaires their own state, so they’ll stop messing with rest of us? Unfortunately, no new state line would stop billionaires from imposing their values and skewing income curves in states for millionaires, the poor, and whatever’s left of the middle class.
Fortunately, there are alternatives for division, like homeowner status. We could slice the state up by density preferences, with those who like tall transit-oriented development no longer forced to share a government with devotees of the single-family home. Or why not exploit the way that Prop 13 has divided us by property taxes, with new homeowners paying more and subsidizing longtime homeowners? You could end that inequality by dividing the state by the decade in which you purchased your home. Renters would get their own separate state.
Californians also could break up by how they negotiate traffic, with states for carpoolers, bicyclists, those who drive to work alone, and those who use public transit. Or we could make the digital divide deeper, splitting by preferred social media platform or smartphone brand. Health-conscious Californians could form their own states based on exercise (traditional yoga, hot yoga, barre, jogging, walking, biking), food (vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters, faddish dieters), or childbirth method (with competing states of Doula, Midwife and Ob-Gyn).
Since Californians take their entertainment so seriously that they elect stars to high office, why not four different Californias, each ruled by a musical diva? I’d live in Beyonceland, but would respect those who chose to KatyPerryville or TaylorSwiftopia. We also could split into four states called Star Wars, Star Trek, The Matrix, and “Sorry, But I Actually Have a Life.”
The fairest way would be to assign each Californian by lottery to a different state. The downside of random sampling is that each state would be a smaller version of today’s California.
If you don’t like these ideas, why not try placating Tim Draper, the venture capitalist bankrolling the “Cal 3” initiative?
I saw Draper recently in San Mateo, where he was holding a “Blockchain Block Party.” Draper, a big believer in digital currency, handed out chocolate Bitcoins and revealed a banner saying “Tim Draper Predicts…. Bitcoin Will Go to $250,000 by 2022.”
Bitcoin trades at $6,500 as I write, but to each their own. Let’s give Draper and his disciples their own state, with separate states for those who pay with phones and with credit cards.
Let’s also maintain one California for those who prefer the security of cash – since they live in a state full of crazy ideas for tearing itself to pieces.
Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. Email: email@example.com.