Splitting up California’s isn’t a bad idea.
A state of this size and population, with so many media markets, doesn’t fit together all that well.
Harvard researchers who study the size of states and countries say that California is far bigger than ideal size for a polity (You want to be the size of Switzerland, somewhere between six and eight million people).
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The problem is that all that talk about splitting in two is wasted breath, because it’s not going to happen.
Why not? Our American occupiers won’t let us.
It would mean adding another star to the flag. And giving us another two senators in the U.S. Senate. The other 49 states would lose a little bit of representation.
Splitting California only makes sense if we secede from the United States first. And that’s not about to happen either.
But that doesn’t mean California can’t re-organize itself, in ways that legitimize the valid concerns of our regions. The best way to re-organize is to think about our loyalties.
Is our first loyalty to California? Do we think of ourselves as Californians first?
Or do we think of ourselves as citizens of our regions?
My answer to that question is yes.
When I travel around the country and the world and somebody asks me where I’m from, I usually tell them Los Angeles, not California.
Because I feel more Angeleno than Californian.
I drive LA’s freeways and eat at LA’s restaurants and root for the Lakers and the Dodgers and the Angels (yes, on that last one, the boundaries of Los Angeles can be a bit fluid).
Because of my job, I’ve traveled all over from California, but the state is full of places I don’t know anything about and won’t spend time in.
Heck, I live closer to Mexico and Arizona than I do to much of Northern California.
In years spent talking with Californians about the state, most people describe themselves as being from a particular region. The Bay Area, the Central Valley, San Diego, the Inland Empire, the Central Coast.
These regions are, by American standards, the real states of California.
They share media, sports teams, cultural institutions, weather and a state of mind. Californians often move within these regions, but they rarely move between the regions.
But despite our ties to regions, our governance isn’t really regional.
Most California regions encompass multiple counties and many, many municipalities.
California’s re-organization should be along regional lines. We should elect legislators to represent regions. We should remake our local governments into regional bodies.
\We have some experience with regional governance in matters like transportation and air quality.
We should do more here – and much less at the state level, since one size does not fit all of us.