Once Again, Separatists Seek to Divide California

Trying again where others have failed, a group of California residents are attempting to create a new state. Hailing it as “New California,” these would-be separatists propose splitting off rural parts of the state from urban centers and from much of the coast.

Every so often a variation of this idea makes its way into the popular imagination. Most of the many well-known proposals originate from partisan or political viewpoints.

A state called “Jefferson” was proposed in 1941, which would have united parts of southern Oregon with northern California to try to improve their mutual economic lots. This idea gained no traction due to American involvement in World War II.

Issues related to water inspired a potential split between northern and southern California in 1965. This was followed by an attempt to split the Golden State into three in 1992 due to recession concerns. In 2011, an attempt was made to create “South California” as a result of irritation over state and local budgetary squabbles.

In 2014, a proposal was circulated that would split California into six separate states based on the idea that smaller units would be easier to govern.

The current effort to create “New California” originates from claims that the nation’s largest state is ungovernable given the different values and interests of coastal and urban residents compared to those in the more rural areas.

Whenever these proposals are made, it is often pointed out that California has the country’s largest economy, and much of the activity that powers it comes from coastal areas and urban centers.

Regardless, some politically-minded separatists see value in creating new states that would presumably be more conservative, likely increasing the number of Republican-controlled seats in the U.S. Senate and in the Electoral College.

The current movement, like every single one that preceded it, is merely an idea that at most will likely only turn into petitions and scattered procedural votes in the California State Assembly. There are numerous barriers at local, state, and federal levels that must be overcome for such a dramatic thing to occur.

But given the colorful nature of the notion and the people who advocate for it, the idea of splitting California always gets a lot of attention even though it is unlikely to actually happen.