Never mind all that talk about conservatives wanting to secede from the union.
A group of liberals are working to split Arizona into two states and want voters to decide the issue in the next Presidential election.
According to Reuters:
A group of lawyers from the Democratic stronghold of Tucson and surrounding Pima County have launched a petition drive seeking support for a November 2012 ballot question on whether the 48th state should be divided in two.
The ultimate goal of the newly formed political action committee Start our State is to split Pima County off into what would become the nation’s 51st state, tentatively dubbed Baja Arizona.
The idea of “Baja Arizona” is nothing new, although the issue has gained headway with the recent flap over Arizona’s law on illegal immigration. According to the Economist, some trace the idea back to the Gadsden Purchase of 1854. Reuters reports the concept goes back to 1965, and the attorney who is credited with coining the name supports the effort to turn Pima County into a separate state.
Some might think it ludicrous that a single county could become a state, but Pima County has a bigger population than seven states, including Wyoming, Montana and Vermont. It is also physically larger than several states, including Conneticut, Delaware and Rhode Island.
It would not be the first time a state was broken up. Until 1820, Maine was part of Massachusetts, and West Virginia came about when Virginia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.
But it could mark the first time a state was formed to escape conservatism.
Paul Eckerstrom, co-chair of the group Save Our State, said the Arizona Legislature has gone too far to the right with legislative actions he said “really does border on them saying they don’t want to be part of the Union any longer.”
According to Eckerstrom, the move will tell lawmakers in Phoenix that Pima County doesn’t like the direction they are taking the state.
“I’m tired of hoping and praying that rationality will come to Phoenix,” he said.
A web site showing support for “Baja Arizona” demonstrates the worldview of those seeking secession:
The primary differences between Baja Arizona and the remainder of Arizona are of attitude and tolerance. The people of Baja Arizona are known throughout the southwest for their enlightened view of the world. This is obviously not the case with the passaged of SB 1070 making it illegal to be an illegal in Arizona.
In Baja Arizona people fight for civil rights. In Maricopa County they are jailing immigrants.
In Baja Arizona a major issue is environmental quality. In Maricopa the major concerns are how to harrass Mexicans, and how to gut the budgets of the state university system so we don’t have too many smart people to disagree with the dunderheads in the State Legislature.
But is scession the answer?
The Daily Star reports that Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll said the effort was sparked by “political opportunism.”.
“The better solution would be to find candidates that better represent them to win campaigns and win seats, and take government in the direction they want to take it,” he said.
But, as ABC News points out, secession would not be easy:
The non-binding resolution expressing a desire of residents to break away from Arizona first needs an estimated 30,000 signatures to get on the ballot in November 2012.
Then, even if it passed, secession would need approval from statewide voters. Pima County officials would need to draft a new state constitution, and the U.S. Congress and the President would have to accept the as-yet-unnamed territory as the 51st state.
“These are big hurdles, and we know that,” said Eckerstrom. “But we want to let the legislature know that we are not happy with the extremist policies coming out of there.
“At the very least, we want to send a message to the country that there are people in Arizona that are reasonable and moderate,” he said. “If a majority approves this, or even comes close, it will give voice to that.”
According to the Arizona Daily Star:
Organizers concede that there are daunting hurdles. They must first get on the ballot, then get approval from the Legislature or from state voters to allow the exodus. A new state constitution would have to be approved, plus they’d have to get the OK from Congress and the president.
The committee hit its first hurdle hours after announcing the effort. It wanted the Pima County Board of Supervisors to put the issue on the ballot, but Chris Straub, chief civil deputy attorney in the County Attorney’s Office, torpedoed that idea, saying the board doesn’t have the authority. Straub also said citizens don’t have the right to do something by initiative that the board can’t do.
If liberals in Arizona are successful in their efforts, will others be inspired to do the same? The possibilities are endless.
If you like this article, you can follow Joe on Twitter @jnewby1956, visit his Facebook page, or click the Subscribe button to receive email updates when a new article is published.