John Fund thinks California secession is a bad idea, and that splitting the state in two makes more sense.
The first time I remember hearing the idea of splitting California into two states — Northern and Southern — was back in the ’70s when I was in junior high school in Los Angeles. I assume the idea was tossed around before that, but that was when it showed up on my radar.
The idea made a lot of sense to me at the time. Even at my age — probably 12 or 13 — it was obvious that northern and southern California were different places with different cultures. Also, I’d just started to recognize the wisdom of federalism (though I didn’t know the word then), and how it made more sense to try to manage things as close to home as possible, where people shared more narrowed interests and could keep a better eye on those interests. It seemed silly to try to manage something as massive and diverse as California with a one-size-fits-all approach from a city at the other end of the state.
I thought at the time that splitting the state into three parts — Northern, Central, and Southern — would be even better than two. I’d had a chance to travel to, and through, northern California a few times by then. My brother and I were in a youth band that traveled to the World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington in 1974, and to Vancouver, British Columbia, a few years later. My family had also made a road trip one summer to visit a friend of my mother’s who had moved to Napa to pick up a job picking grapes in the vineyards.
This was long before the days of cell phones, tablets, and iPods. There wasn’t a lot to do for a teenager on a multi-day road trip, except stare out the window for hours at a time. But these trips gave me a chance to see my state, and it impressed on me just how big it was, and how different it looked and felt as we moved up and down it.
What made sense to me was to cut the state up into thirds, with one border just above Los Angeles and another just above San Francisco. That would give Central and Southern California their big, metropolitan areas. And Northern California could be free of the big cities with which they seemed to have nothing at all in common.
I realize, all these years later, that mine was a simplistic solution. I didn’t, and still don’t, know enough to balance out all the demographic and economic factors to ensure that the newly formed states could look after themselves and make a go of it.
But I also realize that my basic impulse, that people do better when they can manage their own interests in small communities with others who understand and share those interests, was a correct one. And to ask a small group of people — no matter how smart they are — in a city far removed from those communities to govern them under the same set of rules and assumptions is to ask the impossible.
So I still endorse the idea of splitting up California, or perhaps letting it go it’s own way, if it came to that. But I’d defer to people like Fund or Victor Davis Hanson on the best way to do it.
But it’s all a pipe dream, anyway. The very people that are pushing secession as a response to the rest of the country vetoing their choice for president would never let it happen. They are statists, through and through, and the idea of small, local government is anathema to them.