There is no doubt that a political divide has occurred in our nation, one that is greater than most folks could have anticipated and more confounding than mere humans can comprehend.
It has been, to say the least, quite distressing to a people whose longstanding traditions have incorporated the esteemed societal values of unity, equality, and harmony.
To compound matters, folks are additionally experiencing a sense of alienation from political, legal, educational, cultural, and religious institutions, which had previously been relied upon by society as well as individuals for both external and internal stability and cohesion.
Here on the Left Coast, one county in California is considering whether or not to segment off into a smaller state.
The Golden State is presently the most populous state in the nation and has (since its admission to the Union in 1850) been the subject of hundreds of proposals to section it off into multiple states.
For decades, residents of rural California have looked at distant state and federal governments as being less than beneficial to them.
A movement to secede actually sprung up during the 1940s, as did a proposed name for the future site, the State of Jefferson. The new state was to be a combination of counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon. There was even a proposed state flag that had a green and yellow design with two X’s that symbolized the renunciation of state governments located in Sacramento, California and Salem, Oregon.
Six California counties officially backed the idea, and the proposal is still being promoted.
Many people have used the idea of secession in a symbolic way as a means to bring attention to regional disparities. But nowadays things appear to be different. Unprecedented actions by governments and corporations over the past two years have moved the subject of succession in the Golden State front and center.
Geographically, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the entire country. It is larger than 9 U.S. states, and it contains more land than the states of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island combined.
Located east of the city of Los Angeles, San Bernardino County has a population of 2.1 million people.
This significant chunk of California is in the process of placing a measure on the upcoming November ballot that would allow the San Bernardino County supervisors to explore the concept of secession of the county from the state.
After the issue had been raised at several board meetings, the county’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously (4-0) to put the secession measure on the 2022 ballot. The mayors of the cities of Upland and Fontana expressed support for the idea.
Regarding the proposed measure, voters would be given the choice to vote Yes or No on the following question:
“Do the citizens of San Bernardino County want the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to study all options to obtain its fair share of state and federal resources, up to and including secession?”
This upcoming week the board will be holding a second and final reading and an additional vote to finalize the ballot initiative.
“I was surprised by the idea, and I don’t believe it’s feasible politically or financially to secede from California,” Supervisor Janice Rutherford said. “However, I absolutely join with my constituents who have a growing, palpable anger about everything from high gas prices to burdensome taxes.”
If the measure were to be approved by voters, it would have several more hoops to jump through.
Article IV, Section III of the Constitution states, “No new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”
This means that for San Bernardino County to able to secede it must have the approval of the California Legislature and the U.S. Congress.
If the county’s secession from California were constitutionally approved, then San Bernadino County would be able to seek to become its own state or take steps to become a part of a neighboring state.
The scenario that San Bernardino County is contemplating was actually accomplished in the creation of West Virginia back in 1863.
West Virginia was the only state in the Union to separate from a Confederate state during the Civil War. The region that now constitutes West Virginia successfully broke away from the Commonwealth of Virginia to become a separated Mountain State.
We find ourselves at an unusual time in history, one in which many Americans believe that the federal government no longer represents their interests. Additionally, many perceive that state governments are equally unable to handle the geographic and cultural differences and/or meet the diverse needs of constituents.
As the societal chasm continues to grow, so do the possibilities that something like secession could actually take root.
However, infused into the American people is a steadfast determination to forever seek solutions.
This is where hope springs eternal.