Opinion Columns & Blogs

Editorial: Tim Draper must be in an altered state

Imagine California, except it’s six times more fun.

Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist Republican money man, wants to break the Golden State up into six states. He’s even apportioned the counties and named the new states: Jefferson (of course), Northern California, Central California, Silicon Valley, West California and South California. Draper wants this proposal to go on the 2014 ballot as an initiative.



Well, for starters, Draper thinks California multiplied by six would get 12 U.S. senators. Following this line of reasoning, we should break up Texas as well. And Florida. And New York. Then we could all have more U.S. senators, which is just what a limited government guy like Draper wants, right? More politicians.

In Silicon Valley, there is, without a question, a strong libertarian streak, and this has led some people there to flatly suggest that they leave the United States entirely. And after gutting out Silicon Valley rush hour traffic every day, who wouldn’t want to leave the United States, the planet, or even this life? But let’s examine more closely what could happen under Draper’s scenario.

This all assumes, of course, that the U.S. Congress ratifies such a plan. We don’t assume that, as Congress has been unable to agree on statehood for the District of Columbia, which presents a far stronger case, given that the district has no voting representation in Congress. Neither does Puerto Rico, which can’t get traction with its statehood bid, either.

For all its flaws, California happens to have 53 members of the House of Representatives, which is about one-quarter of what any given bill needs to pass. So the argument that we’re underrepresented seems curious. Certainly, a stronger argument could be made for taking some senators away from some of the other, less discerning states. Sen. Ted Cruz comes to mind. If a state isn’t going to use its Senate seat wisely, it should be sent to a state that can.

Let’s look at who all these new senators could be from our six states of California: Sen. Tom McClintock? Sen. Tim Donnelly? Sen. John A. Pérez? Would the rubber duck, which he collects, become the state bird of South California? What about electing the guy who owns the radio station in Siskiyou County and is pushing the state of Jefferson as a publicity stunt?

Or perhaps the state of Silicon Valley would elect Sen. Tim Draper. He certainly has money to run a campaign, having spent $19.7 million on a losing proposition to create a school voucher system in 2000, and hundreds of thousands on other campaigns since.

And don’t get us started on six new governors, let alone six new legislatures.

No new states have entered the union since 1959. Virginia and West Virginia were split for political reasons in the 19th century. West Virginia had a fairly good reason: It wanted out of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Also in the 19th Century, the Party of Lincoln rushed Nevada into statehood by splitting it from the Utah Territory shortly before the election of 1864, to help re-elect President Abraham Lincoln. That was a good reason, in retrospect. But the point is that splitting states is rare.

Draper’s plan seems, well, a bit fragmented. It’s the kind of thing a guy with money on his hands would do if he were looking for his next venture capital target(s): six new states that owe him something.

There is one aspect of this plan we do like. Sacramento sits at the confluence of two major rivers. Silicon Valley needs water. What’s it worth to you, Sen. Draper?