Ken Hale: Another reason why ‘State of Jefferson’ is a bad idea
There has been a lot of published comments on the proposed State of Jefferson. Most of it, as far as I am concerned, creates a smoke screen that is difficult to see through. Here is my view on this issue.
Proponents of Jefferson have stated that the creation of the new state is about the lack of representation afforded citizens of the northern counties of California by elected Democratic representatives, that these counties do not have a voice, and are not represented in either Sacramento or Washington D.C.
A quick look at national statistics shows how out of kilter politics in the United States already is, and it is tilted in favor of the right, not the left.
The Republican party currently controls 246 of 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, Republicans control 54 seats (of 100). Compare this to 188 seats in the House and 45 seats in the Senate for the Democrats. Nationally, there are 30.7 million registered Republicans against 43.1 million registered Democrats, or about two Republicans for every three Democrats, according to Gallup. There is an Independent contingent that must be added to this, but again, according to Gallup, 47 percent of those identify with the Democratic party as opposed to 40 percent for the Republican party.
It would seem that there are very large groups nationally that are unrepresented, primarily on the left, not the right.
The Republican party has maintained control of the House and many state legislatures through gerrymander. By drawing clever boundaries between districts, Republicans can isolate the other party by creating some districts that are comprised almost completely of Democrats. Many districts have very bizarre shapes to accomplish this task. This allows the party drawing the boundaries to completely flip the will of the people, primarily for party gain. Currently, the smallest Congressional district has about 525,000 people in it. The largest has over 900,000. By cramming as many Democratic voters into specially designed districts and creating most districts where Republicans rule within each state, power shifts dramatically to a minority party.
Remember, each district gets one seat in the House. I’ll not go further on gerrymander. It has been used by both parties in a similar fashion for many years. Look it up. In any case, it is wrong, no matter who is behind it.
Back to the State of Jefferson and other proposals like it aimed at creating conservative or very conservative new states. An overview of this proposal is necessary. If California or any other liberal leaning state is carved up as is suggested (because these proposals are all coming from the right), we are commencing gerrymander on a grand scale.
Each new state gets at least one House seat, regardless of how few people live there. In addition, each state gets two Senators. That’s right, count them: two! In essence what will happen is the House will become much more conservative than it already is and the Senate will become an impregnable bastion of right-wing philosophy regardless of the makeup of the rest of the country.
Make no mistake here. This is the main aim. The Senate will be packed by these new states with very conservative folks, even though each of these new senators represents an extremely small fraction of the people living in the United States. Once again, this is wrong and bad for the country.
If the State of Jefferson is ever created, I have a question to pose: When that state fails to represent me, do I get my own state to cure that problem? Many of the values espoused by those in favor of the new state are not values I share, so do I get my very own two Senators? Where does this merry-go-round end?
I think this not just a bad idea, it is a very bad idea. This is a republic folks, not a democracy. There is a big difference. A republic requires an informed electorate to survive. Each of us has to know the issues in some depth so we elect representatives that speak for us in both Sacramento or Washington D.C. The majority in this country should have the stronger voice. When we lose this, we begin to lose the republic that George Washington and his generation fought so hard to create.
Formation of new states that represent so few people, especially for such a narrow political agenda is a step toward perdition, not salvation.
Ken Hale lives in Grass Valley. He is a retired battalion chief for Cal Fire and state representative for CDF Firefighters Association.
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