The Time Has Come for 51

After nearly three decades in L.A. County, Nestlé will soon move its headquarters from California to Virginia.  This food services giant with an estimated $235 billion in assets worldwide will by the end of 2018 remove 1,200 jobs from a state that relies heavily on income taxes to fund its massive public sector.

Nestlé's exodus follows other big employers, including Toyota, Campbell's Soup, Dunn-Edwards Paints, and eBay – which took with them tens of thousands of jobs – and mirrors the flight of mom-and-pop operations, entrepreneurs, families, and individuals who have ditched the once Golden State for places where the weather is less clement but the business and tax climate is welcoming.  With Republicans, conservatives, and Reagan Democrats hightailing it out of high-priced California, the remaining statist majority has a voice that is progressively increasing in volume, and with it, the call for a "Calexit" secession from the Union grows louder.  With some cynicism and a bit of righteous indignation, many Americans long to look westward to San Francisco, L.A., and Sacramento and wave goodbye and good riddance. 

Because the values of California's popular majority are diametrically opposed to individual liberty, religious freedom, and the unimpeded pursuit of one's own personal happiness, the idea of an independent country being formed from the 31st state is attractive to both progressives and conservatives.  The left would love to run a new socialist nation in North America, where it could tax brutally and spend wildly on transgender bathrooms, climate change initiatives, high-speed rail boondoggles, and a host of other agenda items championed by the purveyors of identity and environmental politics.  The right would like to see California's 55 electoral votes, which give the Democratic presidential candidate a big head start every four years in the Electoral College, removed from the equation. 

The clear problem concomitant with a successful Calexit would be the impact on at least four million Americans who showed up in November 2016 at the polling places across the state to cast a vote against the statist agenda promoted by the Democratic presidential candidate.  Should California go full Confederate, and thereafter somehow achieve a permanent status as an independent nation-state, those millions of trapped American citizens would find themselves personae non gratae.  A People's Republic of California led by a Jerry Brown or an Antonio Villaraigosa would most certainly tack even harder to the left than the state currently does.  The California-Mexico border would surely be opened wide, prompting a spike in unfettered immigration by desperately poor people, drug dealers, and gang members to what is already a virtually lawless and out-of-control welfare state.  Novel impositions would be levied on anything the new government could dream up to bilk.  Entrepreneurship would be stifled, radical environmentalism would quash the effective use of natural resources, and hyper-sexualized secularism would be the cultural mainstream.  It would be a woeful place for anyone valuing Judeo-Christian traditions, American history, religious freedom, and the Protestant work ethic who by misfortune could not migrate back to the United States.

For patriotic Californians who relish their constitutional liberties, Calexit would create an international barrier between them and their natural rights.

There is, fortunately, another option: the State of Jefferson.

The powers that be in Sacramento have increasingly impaired the ability of the state's rural residents to benefit from their regions' water, timber, and mineral resources; saddled them with onerous taxes; and disregarded their petitions for an audience to air their grievances.  As a result, some 21 Northern California counties, with a combined population of almost two million people, have developed a plan to exit California and apply to become the 51st state in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, Article 4, Section 3.  State of Jefferson advocates have been working diligently to get the attention of their legislators; sadly, their requests have gone unheard, as attested to at the 25:59 mark of this video.  Thus, while the left seeks to withdraw California from the U.S., the concerned citizens of the would-be State of Jefferson wish to emulate the words of the Declaration of Independence:

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Like our revolutionary forefathers who fought to leave Great Britain, the Jeffersonians are pursuing separation from California at least in part because they are not adequately represented in the statehouse.  Between 1926 and 1964, California's rural areas enjoyed healthy representation in the legislature based on Proposition 28, which provided for a government model similar to the federal government's construction.  There was roughly one state senator for each county (with only the most sparsely populated counties sharing a senator), while the assembly was seated largely with urban representatives, thus California's bicameral legislature had checks and balances between country and city interests.  With the 1964 Reynolds v. Sims case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state legislative voting districts must represent roughly equal populations, thereby cementing the idea of "one person, one vote"  set in motion by the 1962 Baker v. Carr and 1963 Gray v. Sanders cases.  The Reynolds ruling opened the door for the neutralization of Proposition 28.  The result: thirty-six percent of California's counties now have less than eight percent of the representation in the legislature. 

Further diluting rural representation is the 1879 California State Constitution, which limits the legislature, irrespective of the massive growth of the state's population over time, to 40 state senators and 80 assemblypersons.  The apportionment scheme endorsed by the SCOTUS, in a state with the bulk of its of nearly 40 million inhabitants stuffed mostly into urban corridors, means that the population centers in the coastal and southern regions have significantly more representation in the legislature than do the inland and northern regions, such that the 21 State of Jefferson counties have nine state representatives out of 120.

In 1983, the SCOTUS ignored the Reynolds decision and in Brown v. Thomson ruled in favor of legislatures apportioned geographically, citing the Wyoming legislature's finding that "the opportunity for oppression of the people of this state or any of them is greater if any county is deprived a representative in the legislature than if each is guaranteed at least one representative."

Brown v. Thomson thus provides case law to bolster the State of Jefferson's legal efforts to have their grievance related to lack of representation addressed.

California today is effectively a socialist democracy, with lopsided representation.  This defies the republican tradition of the United States.  If the legislature continues to ignore the state's rural quarters and persists in implementing policies that crush economic productivity, the Jeffersonians will only enjoy increased justification to sever ties with the state and do what Vermont, Maine, Kentucky, and West Virginia did in breaking away from New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Virginia, respectively, to join the Union as separate states.  Thus, as they are wont to say in the fledgling State of Jefferson, the time has come for 51.

John Steinreich has an M.A. in church history from Colorado Theological Seminary and is the author of two Christian-themed non-fiction books, The Words of God? – the Bible, the Qu'ran and How They Are Lived in the Post-9/11 World and A Great Cloud of Witnesses.  His works are available on Lulu Press and on Kindle.