51st State Initiative: ‘Secession simply isn’t going to happen’ — Daniel Farber

51st State Initiative Map via The Burlington Record
51st State Initiative Map via The Burlington Record

Here’s a roundup of the issues around the 51st State Initiative (secession) from Alan Greenblatt writing for NPR.org. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

“We’re rarely listened to when it comes to legislation,” says Butch White, the mayor of Ault. “I’m sure the vote will pass in Weld County quite easily.”

The Colorado counties aren’t alone. There’s been occasional talk of secession at various times in recent decades, but now the idea is showing signs of taking root across the map.

There is talk about and sometimes movement toward secession in several states. These are locally motivated startups, but they share some themes in common.

People in mostly conservative areas feel isolated living in states controlled by Democrats. Rural residents, in particular, believe their values are given no respect in capitols now completely dominated by urban and suburban interests.

Secession may be part of the same impulse that leads states to sue or otherwise try to block or nullify federal laws they don’t like. People are losing respect for institutions that don’t reflect their preferences and would prefer, to the extent possible, to extricate themselves from them.

“What we would like to do is gain representation for the northern people of the state,” says Mark Baird, spokesman for a committee seeking to split off part of California. “The only way to do that is to have our own state.”[…]

“You have issues that go way beyond gun rights,” says Anthony Navarro, owner of Colorado Shooting Sports, a gun shop in Greeley. “You have people in Boulder and Denver who have mostly come in from California and are dictating to the rest of the state.”[…]

“Greater Los Angeles has something like 34 representatives” in the California Assembly, says Baird, the spokesman for the Jefferson Declaration Committee. “The northern third of California has three.”[…]

Secession simply isn’t going to happen, says Daniel Farber, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the issue. Creation of a new state would require the blessing of the state being spurned, as well as congressional approval.

It’s a Catch-22: People who want to secede because they lost influence don’t have the influence to make it happen.

“You’d have to persuade the U.S. Senate to add two more senators, but why would they do that, since that would dilute their own state’s influence and might well add votes to the opposing party?” Farber says.

From Bloomberg (Michael Tackett):

The shifting U.S. populations that are changing political outcomes have converged in Colorado. Just as in Virginia, young professionals who support gay rights are flooding into the state; like Texas and Arizona, Colorado’s surge in Hispanic population gives Democrats a shot at reversing statewide election results. And suburban women who support abortion rights and gun restrictions are turning away from a party advancing legislation hostile to both views.

“Colorado is a perfect example of demographic change leading to political change,” said Seth Masket, a professor of political science at the University of Denver.

A wave of young professionals who now live in Denver and its suburbs, drawn by jobs in technology, health care and energy, coupled with a 40 percent increase in the Hispanic population since 2000, has brought almost 2 million new residents to the state since 1990, transforming alliances and reversing political course…

Republicans in Colorado and elsewhere are feeling the brunt of the change. President Barack Obama in his 2012 re-election won almost 60 percent of the vote among 18 to 39 year olds, exit polls showed, and 55 percent of women. Nationally, young voters, who by 7 in 10 support same-sex marriage, have caused politicians of both parties to reconsider their positions…

Nearby Jefferson County has gone from a place where Republicans racked up large margins to one that strategists in the White House now see as predictive in presidential elections because of its swing-vote character.

“We have different trends than other places,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “There’s been a large influx of young, generally well-educated people that drives not just political change but also cultural change. Metropolitan Denver now has more live music venues than Nashville or Austin.

That’s the kind of thing that is changing the energy.”

The youth vanguard, Hickenlooper said, also makes the state a “great magnet to attract entrepreneurs and business headquarters.”[…]

Hickenlooper and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, also a Democrat, have won statewide office with centrist economic policies, while Republicans have a growing subset aligned with the limited-government Tea Party movement, Wadhams said. It isn’t a recipe for his party’s revival.

Wadhams, whose family arrived in the state in 1890, said Republicans are on the wrong side of the demographic divide, and its potential nominees for high office, former Representative Tom Tancredo, who briefly sought the Republican nomination for president in 2012, and Ken Buck, who lost to Bennet, aren’t likely to help…

Republicans started to overreach in the late 1990s, said Floyd Ciruli, who has been polling in the state for 30 years. The Denver area, his data show, received 62 percent of new voters in the state, an increase of 263,000 in the metro area, and those voters tend to vote Democratic. He said Republicans spent too much time talking about “gays and God and guns.”

More 51st State Initiative (North Colorado Secession) coverage here.

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