About six months ago – not long after the train wreck that was the 2012 election – I wondered out loud whether the fifty states would begin to fragment along rural/urban lines, particularly in the Plains and Lakes, where 80% of the counties vote Republican and feel disenfranchised by the heavily populated urban centers that dominate many of these states.
After reading up on the theory of “The Big Sort” (the gradual migration and mating of like-minded people joining with their own philosophical brethren – a demographic trend that began in the 70s and continues today), and doing county by county research on electoral trends prior to the 2012 season which lead me to spectacularly wrong forecasts for the election, I began to hear chatter about the formation of “North Colorado.”
At first this secession talk was laughed off – it’ll never happen, those counties need the financial support of Denver, I was assured. But…even if I were to grant the notion that it’s illogical for rural Coloradans to break from their state and form a new one, I am starting to wonder whether people who are increasingly disenfranchised by an increasingly liberal urban city-state will always do what is strictly rational in the pursuit of their freedom. In fact, 9 Colorado counties are going to vote on the question of secession from their state this November. If enough contiguous counties pass secession votes, the battle would move to the Federal level, where Attourney General Eric Holder would undoubtedly sue the would-be state and claim that it was invalid for counties to vote themselves out of a state. Never mind that this actually happened in our history with VA and WV, and never mind that Colorado counties are beholden to the Colorado state constitutional process when it comes to secession, not to Federal law. Holder will find a means to argue it before the Supreme Court.
But notwithstanding the Federal questions (and the interesting question as to what counties who wish to secede from Colorado but who are not adjoined with other seceding counties would do), the bigger thing to keep an eye on is whether, should Colorado’s secession pass popular vote in even a handful of counties, this state might become a blueprint for the increasing feudalization of the Union and its 50 states. According to my hair-brained glance at the electoral map, there are currently at least 10 states whose rural counties are completely disenfranchised by ultra-liberal metro areas. In order from west to east:
- Washington (Seattle is a one-party city, the rest of the state votes Republican and loses 55-45 every single year)
- Oregon (This state votes overwhelmingly Republican outside of Portland and Salem…and the GOP loses every single year)
- California (the Central Valley and Northern Counties have talked about seceding for years – if Colorado splinters, California might be next in line)
- Nevada (Las Vegas has dragged a dead red state into Obama’s column twice running)
- Colorado (Denver, Boulder and the ski resort counties vote democrat, the rest of the state votes 75-25 republican)
- Illinois (Chicago and the suburban Northern counties vote 65-35 democrat, the Southern counties vote 75-25 republican and lose elections by 20 points)
- Michigan (Outside of Detroit, whose population is now collapsing, the state has been moving right for years…if this state didn’t splinter, it might only be because Detroit got too small to force the rest of the state left)
- Virginia (the northern counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudon have successfully driven the state from red to blue – the rest of its citizens aren’t happy about it)
- Pennslyvania (Philly votes 85-15 democrat by any means necessary, up to and including forcing 100% of voters in certain districts to vote democrat somehow…the rest of the state, even including Pittsburgh, has been trending rightward for 12 years, to no avail)
- Florida (Miami and Ft. Lauderdale have been dragging a deep red state to the middle for 28 years)
The trouble with this vote in Colorado, of course, is that they would need a very detailed plan as to how they would build their new state before they would be accepted as members of the union. They would need to independently ratify a state constitution and the Federal one. They would need to form a judiciary, hold elections for public office at all levels, develop departments to handle state business. They would need to insure that the transition occurred smoothly and in accordance with Federal law (not a small feat these days).
But I do wonder whether this is our last, best hope for a lasting peace here at home. A government can only function so long as it has the consent of the governed…with congressional job approval ratings sitting below 20% since 2004 and at or below 15% since 2008, and with many states forming factions and fiefdoms along land-use lines dividing urban and rural neighbors against each other in a desperate scramble for diminishing resources, this nation is on the brink of ruin. If the people feel that their voice is heard, then maybe…just maybe…we might avoid war. But that’s a big if. Secession, as ugly and complicated as it can get, from within the states, might be one way to ease tensions and stave off violence. And I for one, am for anything that helps people have a say in their government and keeps them from destructive anger.