Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baja Arizona: The New West Virginia

Fun stuff going on in Arizona these days. Apparently, some Democrats in Pima County have decided that their state has gone so far overboard that they'll need to secede to return to the Union:
Gov. Jan Brewer approved an immigration law that prompted a legal battle between the state and the federal government and made the state the target of boycotts. A new batch of immigration bills followed this year, along with a Republican-sponsored state Senate bill to let Arizona nullify specific federal laws.
Supporters of the nullification bill, which was defeated last week, said it was an attempt to curb federal overreaching. It was also the final straw for Mr. Eckerstrom, former Pima County Democratic Party chairman and an attorney in the county's Legal Defenders Office.
"That's basically a secession bill," Mr. Eckerstrom said. "I just couldn't take it anymore. We actually want to stay in the union. It seems Arizona doesn't." In February, he suggested facetiously on his Facebook page that southern Arizona become its own state. Thousands of supporters answered his call.
(via Michael Miller)

1 comment:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The trouble with any new state is that it unsettles the balance of power between the two political parties in the Senate that is critical to preventing the population to power differentials in the Senate from actually influencing policy very much. The partisan balance in the House, for practical purposes, prevents any new state formation that increases the Senate power of the out of power party in the state, and the requirement of state level approval pevents any new state formation that increases the Senate power of a minority party in that state. In times of divided government, only Senate partisanship neutral splits are politically viable.

But, a territory transfer, in which liberal Pima county and a couple of nearby counties were attached to more liberal New Mexico would not face this barrier. In generally, transfers of these kinds better align residents with the policy preferences of their state governments and make incumbent political party majorities in both states more secure.

It is also worth noting that the proposed Pima County state roughly parallels the territory of the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, five years after the rest of Arizona was secured in the Mexican Cession of 1848 following the Mexican War.

Similarly, there are other Senate power neutral territory transfers would make sense in terms of better using state boundaries to maximize local satisfaction with state government policy. These include:

(1) the parts of Washington State and Oregon that are East of the Cascades to be transferred to Idaho with which they share more politically,

(2) for much of Northeast Nevada to be transferred to Utah (or Idaho),

(3) for the rural Front Range of Colorado to be transferred to Kanas and/or Nebraska,

(4) for the Western Panhandle of Florida to be transferred to Alabama,

(5) for the San Luis Valley and Pueblo and the vicinity to be transferred to New Mexico,

(6) for Appalachian parts of SE Ohio to be transferred to West Virgina,

(7) for the conservative and geographically linked Upper Penninsula of Michigan to be transferred to the more conservative than Michigan is State of Wisconsin, and

(8) for greater Gary, Indiana, which is part of metropolitan Chicago, to be annex to Illinois.

Finally, one territory transfer that has been suggested as a compromise in lieu of D.C. statehood (motivated again by the need to maintain the balance of power in the U.S. Senate) that would resolve the taxation without representation issues it presents would be to transfer the non-core area of D.C. to Maryland, just as was previously down for most of the D.C. territory cut out of Virginia.