EDITORIAL: Don't split up California

FresnoDecember 27, 2013 

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper would like to divide California into six states.


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 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.

Why? 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, Florida and New York, as well. 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 that 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.

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 Pérez collects, become the state bird of South California? What about the radio station owner in Shasta County who 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.

No new states have entered the union since 1959. The last time a state was split up for political reasons was Virginia and West Virginia. West Virginia had a fairly good reason: It wanted out of the Confederacy during the Civil War. 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 is 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.


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