The word “secession” conjures up images of the beginnings of the Civil War and the dissolution of the union. However, most of the recent pushes for secession in a number of states have little to do with abandoning America, but merely splitting off from their current state to form their own. Since official secession requires approval from both state and federal legislatures and involves complex economic processes, secession of any kind is unlikely. For small rural counties that have seen their economies shrink over the past decades, the likelihood of successful secession is almost impossible.
Siskiyou County in Northern California recently voted in favor of a resolution to form the 51st State, Jefferson. This idea has been around since 1941 when the Port Orford mayor proposed the new state, comprised of 8 counties in both Oregon and California. They went far enough to inaugurate a governor, but the movement ended when the mayor died five days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
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While California is the third-largest state by area and the most populous state by a margin of more than 10 million, the counties that would most likely comprise Jefferson would find it very difficult to raise the money needed to establish their own government and services, while paying off their portion of California’s significant debt.
The mostly Republican citizens of Siskiyou that are spearheading the movement cite their frustration with Governor Jerry Brown and the constant Democratic majority in the state legislature. Their complaints include environmental restrictions on the lumber and mining industries, as well as steep fees for fire prevention. Also, proponents of secession say that the economic feasibility of paying for their own state seems far more manageable than what may happen with California’s troubled budget. Nearby counties are expected to vote on similar resolutions.