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Splitting California Into 2 States? Bad Idea. A Double Majority? Good Idea

Folks in Visalia are talking about filing a ballot initiative that would split California into two states. A liberal, Democratic one of 13 coastal counties, and a mostly inland, Republican state of 45 counties. (The plan would keep San Diego in the inland part of the state, which is hypocritical. We coastal folks want the whole coast).

This is a bad idea. Despite the rhetoric in this newspaper story about how LA and San Francisco are supposedly drains on the state treasury, the opposite is true: the cities and their economic activity subsidize the rest of the state -- especially folks in rural places like Visalia. The red state these folks want would be a large, poor place. That said, I do think there are some legitimate political grievances that folks in smaller counties have, particularly when it comes to direct democracy.

Take Prop 2, the initiative regulating farm animal confinement. A majority of California counties -- 41 -- voted against the measure; most of those were inland counties where the measure would have the greatest effect. But the initiative passed overwhelmingly because of the support of people in large metropolitan areas. This is unfair. In other parts of the world with the initiative process, there is usually a requirement that an initiative must get more than just a majority of the voting public to pass. It also must get a majority of the political entities in a particular province or country to pass. This concept is called "the double majority." In Switzerland, for example, an initiative needs a double majority -- a majority of all voters, and majority support in a majority of the provinces, or states -- to pass. In California, we could have the same thing by requiring a majority of voters and a majority of counties to approve a measure.

I also think the folks in Visalia, instead of leaving the state, might take a good look at some proposals out there for reforming California government along regional lines. As it happens, one of the best proposals comes from New America experts. That proposal is available here.




splitting california

Perhaps they do not have copies of the US Constitution in Visalia. Art IV Sect 3 of the US Constitution says that no state shall be formed within the jurisdiction of any other state without the consent of both the state legislature and the US Congress. And that's rather unlikely, wouldn't you say? Dead on arrival.

No Kidding

According to Wikipedia: "There have been at least 27 attempts to split up the state of California since it acquired statehood in 1850"

So - maybe we can get that attempt total to 30 failures and then classify this concept in the "Tin Foil Hat" category once and for all.

On a Federal Level only the "Red" States and the Republican Party would go for this. They'd hope to gain a new "Red State" out of our Split Off Eastern half. Two more Red Senators, probably little impact on the House as they'd split the current Representatives between us (since that is based on population).

The Republican Party tried the end run on this with their saber rattling with their proposal to enact an Electoral College Vote Splitting resolution for California based on popular vote (as a few states do) vs. our current Winner Takes All (as the vast majority of states currently do).

With regards to the California Legislature approving this as required by that pesky U.S. Constitution - as you said "Dead on Arrival"

California Breakup

Personally I think California is amalgamation of 4 states. The first would be LA County by itself, 10 million people speaks for itself. The second would be The Valley and Rural Areas from Redding to the 1-5/99 split. The 3rd would be the Greater Bay Area which would be from Humboldt County to the Bay Area and to the Ventura Coast. The 4th would be San Diego, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino counties and throw in Imperial Co. Each of these have very distinctive views from each not really held by each other. LA County Dems are more socially conservative and ethnically diverse from Bay Area and Coastal Counties. The Southern Co counties and The Valley are more or less Republican. However Southern Co counties are more wealthy and less conservative from their Valley counterparts.
Let's go for broke and have a 4 way break-up. As Fleetwood Mac would sing "You Can Go Your Own Way".

Second the motion to split into 4 states

1. The first would be LA County by itself, 10 million people speaks for itself.

2. The second would be The Valley and Rural Areas from Redding to the 1-5/99 split.

3. The 3rd would be the Greater Bay Area which would be from Humboldt County to the Bay Area and to the Ventura Coast.

4. The 4th would be San Diego, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino counties and throw in Imperial Co.

Prop 2

47 of California's 58 counties voted in favor of Prop 2. You can see the electoral map from the secretary of state at:

The measure was favored in both urban and rural areas alike, and received more "yes" votes than any measure on this past November's ballot.

Double Majority is a Terrible Idea

The problem with the double majority rule is that it is an affront to democracy. It also promotes the idea that rural citizens are more worthy than urban ones. For instance, an initiative that is important to urban dwellers but opposed by rural folks could get 65% of the vote in a state like CA but still fail because enough rural counties would oppose. Urban voters should not penalized for living in densely populated counties and rural voters should not be rewarded politically for living in lightly populated counties.

The folks in SF and LA will have to live with Prop 8 even though most of them don't like it. People in Visalia should have to do the same with Prop 2. Both have one democratic option: put up a new measure to repeal the old one and convince enough people this is the correct course of action.

What your saying that that 10 counties with 5,000 people in each are worth more than three counties with 5 million people in each. That is fundamentally unfair. Geography is not democracy.


We don't HAVE a democracy. It is really annoying to have to point that out. We are a republic, a representative form of government. Urban voters will not be penalized because they are represented by whom they elect.

And incidentally why shouldn't urban voters be penalized? They aren't landowners, so housing taxes, land taxes etc, etc, etc do not affect them. They affect landowners, and most landowners are in suburban areas not urban ones. Therefore the suburban voters have more to loose if the people in the 'inner-city' vote for some stupid land tax that only benefits the entitlement class. And you talk about the fundamentals of 'un-fairness'.

Democracy? - ?!?!

"why shouldn't urban voters be penalized? They aren't landowners"


Many of us Urban Voters DO own our houses so we are "land owners" - as if that has been a consideration in the exercise of government in recent (or not so recent) history.

Why should voting power be based on land ownership - Mr. Fuedal Lord? Why not just base it on income? One vote for every dollar in income.

And FYI - that last sentence was S A R C A S M.

Maybe IQ would be a better measure?

Go back to your cave Mr. Plutocrat.

My take on the Issue

I posted a blog entry yesterday at:

that details exactly why California needs to split into two.

Basically, California will die if it remains the way it is today.

Anti-Democratic Proposal

This concept is, in addition to being completely anti-democratic, unnecessary tinkering with our current Republican system of government.

We already have a check on the "Tyranny of the Majority" that we have had ever since we have had Tri-Parte governments. It's called a Constitution and a separate co-equal Judiciary Branch of Government.