How GOP Wants to Divide and Conquer California

Dividing California

Tim Draper on the stump.

Remember that stuff about partitioning California? It’s back. Yesterday morning’s news reports that a proposal for dividing California into six separate states apparently has collected the required signatures to be on the 2016 ballot as one of this state’s infamous propositions.

And what it’s about isn’t what its proponents claim. Simply put, it’s the GOP’s best chance at taking-over the US Senate — permanently.

The Constitution guarantees that each state in the union gets two senators. By carving up California along the lines devised by the proposal’s chief advocate, a tech billionaire entrepreneur named Tim Draper, four of the six Californicated states would have Republican majorities.

Draper had already spent millions of his own money, saying, “I want my state to reflect my interests.”

Make no mistake about his interests. Draper’s partition plan would likely mean EIGHT new GOP members in the US Senate.

For low-information voters, Draper’s idea might look appealing. California is the most populated state, with 38 million residents, so the fact that we get two senators — just like tiny Rhode Island or sparsely settled Wyoming — makes us grossly under-represented, proportionate to the number of citizens represented by each US Senator from those states.

Frolarry-winesm that premise, conventional thinking takes two divergent courses.

One path asks, “What can we do to make representation more equitable?” Ostensibly, the proposition’s backers want you to see only that part.

The second path asks, “How likely is it that the other 49 states would go along with seeing their clout diminished by an extra ten senators, 10% more than the current number?”

There’s mischief afoot here, where the reasoning is, “Even if Californians approved division, nothing would happen unless congress ratified it.” That suggests little reason to get worked-up about it, since, as some news sources are already saying, “It won’t happen, anyway.”

Curiously, being flippantly dismissive works to the advantage of the proposition’s backers, allowing them to characterize this as a populist crusade that sends a message about fairness but is otherwise harmless.

Not so fast.

Curiously, being flippantly dismissive works to the advantage of the proposition’s backers, allowing them to characterize this as a populist crusade that sends a message about fairness but is otherwise harmless.

Harmless? That would not hold true if Republicans win a majority in the US Senate and retain control of the House of Representatives in 2014. Can you imagine a Republican majority refusing anything that would give them a lock on control of the government they profess to hate?

It wouldn’t stop with four of the six “new” states with GOP senators. The senate ratifies treaties with other nations — including trade agreements that enrich industrialists while destroying American jobs — and it is charged with approving myriad federal departmental appointees, plus judges and supreme court justices — or, conversely, it rejects a president’s appointees. Suddenly it all gets far more complicated with a new block of additional Republican zealot / absolutist / obstructionist senators.

And we’ve looked only at four of the six “new” states. What about the other two newly partitioned states?

Even there, conservative areas like Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties would give the GOP good odds against L.A.’s often vascilating Democratic majority. So the GOP can expect to be competitive for at least one Republican senator in “West California,” too, and gain a similar outcome up north in the state of “Silicon Valley,” based on congressional districts there.

Some might challenge the likelihood of this scenario. After all, “Central California” would potentially be the poorest state in the country, so why would it be a Republican stronghold?

Dividing CaliforniaThe answer is, because it’s poor now, and already a Republican area. You could look to dirt-poor Mississippi, a GOP stronghold, or cite traditionally dismal voter participation by poor people, nationwide.

Thus, the net result expected by partition advocates is what military strategists seek by diving an opposing army that is too big to beat. Divided, each part of it can be destroyed “in detail.”

Six states, with ten Republican senators to two Democratic senators, instead of one state with a total of two Democratic senators. Welcome to the not-so-left coast.

The game of divide and conquer is ingrained in Republican thinking and values, from Minnesota to Florida, from New Jersey to Murietta, California. It is a chief characteristic of GOP strategy, but it’s not the only weapon in their arsenal. Coupled the undercurrent of divisiveness with the expected role of Rand Paul-style populism and unprecedented sums of overt and dark money, and it’s a juggernaut.

Given the context and what’s at stake, partitioning California is no laughing matter. News commentators who trifle with the story — as some of them are doing — must be made to take this seriously and examine all the implications thoroughly.

Instead, the media enjoys poking fun at proponents of partition. Earlier this year, there was a big fizzle over a Big Apple bobbing, seeking to partition New York State. In recent years, various interests have tried to split Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and Maryland. And there is always talk in Texas — often fueled by the state’s governor Rick Perry — about a Lone Star secession that vys for attention with the “divisionists” (yes, they even have a name there).

All that is partly responsible for the press not taking this seriously in California. That’s unacceptable.

larry-wines-informalOur readers certainly know that politics matters. In 2014, with control of the congress at stake, it matters more profoundly than in an ordinary election, if any election is ever ordinary. It remains crucial beyond that, with the potential of a Republican takeover then or in 2016.

With this on the ballot, the shape of America is in the hands of California voters. Will the people of the Golden State pawn the jewelry we inherited, succumb to populist fervor and disastrously vote to fragment in 2016?

Larry Wines


  1. Luis L. says

    This will also increase Republicans in the Senate and considering how the house is gerrymandered to favor Republicans this will almost certainly guarantee Republican control of both houses for years to come. One of the problems also is that many people have no clue about this. There is no organized opposition or anyone educating voters about this. It is also being proposed in an off year election that historically brings out mostly older white voters. If people think things are bad now just wait and see how much damage these Republicans will do when they are in control.

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