The Three Californias
California is one of the largest states in the U.S. It’s also one of the most diverse, with life in many parts of the state varying vastly from the preconception of what it means to be a Californian. From the beaches of San Diego to the farmlands of Fresno to the suburbs of Humboldt, California is not solely defined by its mega cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the LGBTQ+ community, those differences are highlighted in L.A. and the Bay Area as some of the best places to live for queer people.
This upcoming November election will be a particularly crucial one for Californians as they decide whether the state should no longer operate as one and be split into three jurisdictions: California, Northern California and Southern California. This division is split in a strategic way that does not encompass drawing lines between northern, central and southern California. Three of the major cities in the largest blue state in the nation would have a place in their own divided California state. San Diego would be in Southern California, Los Angeles in California and San Francisco in Northern California. That means people living slightly out of L.A. county lines, where rent is more affordable, would then reside in another state entirely – that state of Southern California would also be the most conservative of the three, where over 40 percent of residents voted for Trump in the recent election, according to The Sacramento Bee.
The split would also even out Northern California with counties such as Santa Cruz and San Francisco that vote in the largest numbers for Democrats together with counties like Modoc that garner the highest percentage of Republican votes in California each election. What that could potentially result in is Northern and Southern California having more political tension as the prospect of conservative votes taking over the new jurisdiction’s legislation becomes more feasible within much smaller states. From the three split states, California would be the most liberal with Los Angeles, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Benito and Ventura counties that all vote Democrat.
This new cultural structure could result in more people moving into California and changing the other divided states into a more conservative position. The fight for California’s sparse water supply and how the new states would suffer in receiving fewer resources would also be a major issue of which the economic and environmental impacts could shift the states’ populations even more. The new dynamic can almost guarantee a change of population, one which may not be in the favor of minorities such as LGBTQ+ people who are already fighting to preserve rights against the Trump Administration. In the macro sense, the split would also take away California’s power to bring the most votes for Democrats every election as the state with the largest number of electoral votes. Thus, reversing the marriage equality act per the Trump Administration’s plans could become a more achievable prospect, especially with the future of democratic votes in the divided states being uncertain.
In the history of the U.S., the act of dividing a state occurred last during the civil war with the secession of West Virginia from the Confederate state of Virginia. The new plan to split California will be on the ballot after years of effort by Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper, garnering over 400,000 signatures deemed valid by election officials. His plan failed to qualify on the 2016 ballot with not enough valid signatures in his 2014 proposal, which initially planned to split California into six parts – which would have left much poorer parts of California to fend for their own while the richer parts prospered. This was the entrepreneur’s only real involvement with politics and he also remains as an unaffiliated voter.
“Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education and lower taxes,” said Draper to the Los Angeles Times. “Vast parts of California are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically.” Yet Draper’s proposal that he has been working toward for years would not be as beneficial to the LGBTQ+ community as well as the average California voter since smaller states do not guarantee better functioning legislation. It is also a plan that does not consider the repercussions of such a division and does not supply a proper plan to execute three equally prosperous states, which begs the question of whether the intention of this proposal was ever in favor of serving all the communities within the state.