The New State of OilGunnia


You may have heard that 5 (originally it seemed there were 6) of 11 counties in Colorado voted last night to secede from the state. Mainly they want less regulation of oil and gas drilling and more gun rights that the know-it-all city folks in Denver are willing to provide.

As you may know, it’s friggin’ impossible to secede from a state. Even if the rest of the state agrees that you can go, the federal Congress still has to sign off on it. In this case, we’re looking into … well, what national guard armories are in the embryonic state of Oilgunnia, just in case they decide to get all Fort Sumtery on Denver.

But this also poses another question with more immediate relevance for national politics. As a government nerd part of me would kind of like to see more mix and matching of states. Like whatever those guys want to do in extreme North California and Southern Oregon. What if Western Maryland wants to break off and set up shop as a Red State? You can think of a lot of different ‘logical’ divisions. And, like I said, it kind of appeals to me just on novelty terms.

On a more serious note, if you’re a conservative in New York or a liberal in Texas, how long should you have to wait before you can elect someone?

I also wish there was more than one state with a unicameral legislature? Why, no good reason at all. Would just be neat.

But really, it’s only the states with their arbitrary and ancient geographical logics which are making the country in any way governable at the moment. It’s the main reason why the House is so much more dysfunctional than the Senate. A mix of gerrymandering and monocultures makes so many of the Reps, particularly on the Republican side, simply immune to any winds of public opinion. It’s only Senators (and governors) who have to run in non-engineered jurisdictions who have to keep it at least somewhat real because the states as they’re constructed (in all their ideological dislogic) are in almost all cases at least somewhat ideologically and culturally diverse.

There’s a whole sociological literature about whether and how much Americans are self-sorting now. If you’re rightwing and from New England are you more likely at some point to pick and move to Texas to be among your own and vice versa? Or even more, if you’re from the suburbs or the country and you’re younger and more progressive do you move to the city and vice versa?

I don’t know how much of it is due to that. But at the moment, states – the artifact of our system that forces us to coexist politically with people we have little in common – are really our salvation.