You’ve got Oregonians seeking to cascade into Idaho, Virginians who identify as West Virginians, Illinoians fighting to escape Chicago, Californians dreaming of starting a 51st state, and New Yorkers who think three states are better than one.
Separation fever is sweeping the nation as quixotic but tenacious bands of frustrated rural dwellers, suburbanites and conservatives seek to break free from states with legislatures increasingly controlled by liberal big cities and metropolitan strongholds.
“Oregon is controlled by the northwest portion of the state, Portland to Eugene. That’s urban land, and their decisions are not really representing rural Oregon,” said Mike McCarter, president of Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho. “They have their agenda and they’re moving forward with it, and they’re not listening to us.”
In Virginia, the newly elected Democratic majority’s progressive legislation on issues such as gun rights has spurred “Vexit,” or “Virginia exit,” a campaign to merge right-tilting rural counties into neighboring West Virginia that organizers say has the potential to catch fire nationwide.
“To be honest, if this works — you’ve got a lot of red areas in this country that are totally dominated by a blue metropolis,” said Vexit2020 leader Rick Boyer, a former member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors. “If it works in Virginia, there’s no reason it can’t reshape the political map.”
Such campaigns can only be described longshots — no state has split off since West Virginia was carved from Virginia in 1863 — but the growing interest comes as those living outside cities wrestle with the consequences of the 1964 Supreme Court decision in Reynolds v. Sims.
The ruling established the principle of “one man, one vote,” effectively eliminating state legislative districts apportioned by county or geography instead of population, which hobbled in the influence of smaller and rural communities.
Illinois state Rep. Brad Halbrook, who has introduced a resolution to spin off Chicago and declare it the 51st state, said that “downstate voices are simply not being heard because we’ve been forced into this democracy that’s concentrated power into a small geographical area of the state.”
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SOURCE: The Washington Times, Valerie Richardson