June 12, 2014
Activists in Northern California, near the border with Oregon, are pushing to secede from the Golden State. They say they’re fed up with taxes, regulation, and lack of representation. If they get their way, the country’s 51st entrant would be called the State of Jefferson.
“The three major urban areas dictate politics for the entire state,” says Mark Baird of the Jefferson Declaration Committee. “Our children are leaving, our economy is crashing, we are taxed, every breath we take is regulated, and we feel that a free state will cure that.”
To date, five county governments have signed on the plan and more may be joining up.
“We can’t afford to run a California-style beauracracy, that is true,” says Baird. “But as a small rural state, we don’t want to. ”
The idea of secession in California isn’t new. During the Great Depression, folks started pushing a similar plan in the same part of the state but threw in the towel after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Both California’s state legislature and the US Congress would have to approve the plan to make Jefferson more than a pipe dream. That’s not going to happen any time soon, but Northern California’s separatist movement is worth exploring, as a way of pushing back against a distant and unresponsive government.
Produced by Alex Manning. Additional camera Tracy Oppenheimer.