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Column: State secession not just for Tea Party crazies anymore

Long-time residents of Arizona may notice a large disconnect between the residents of Maricopa County, which contains Phoenix, and Pima County, which contains beloved Tucson.

The right-wing, snowbird Phoenix clashes with the left-wing collegiate Tucson, each pulling its shared state in a tug of war from one side to the other.

But a movement was started to change this, to split the closer-to-the-border territory off to form its own state: Baja Arizona. There was an attempt to get the issue on the ballot in 2012, but most of the discussion ended after the amendment failed to get on the ballot, and it didn’t manage to go anywhere.

The spirit of the movement still seems to remain, if the amount of griping heard about Maricopa County and the cars adorned with “Free Baja Arizona” bumper stickers are any indication. And indeed, Baja Arizona is one of dozens of state partition movements since the founding of the U.S.

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New Republic has run the numbers and shown that if all of the secession movements got their ways, the Republicans would not only have a senatorial advantage, but also an advantage in the Electoral College. This hardly advances the liberal cause those would-be Baja Arizonans wish for.

There’s also another factor to consider in terms of how secession could affect power distribution: gerrymandering, which involves the re-distribution of congressional districts to favor one party over another. Republicans have been benefiting from it disproportionately thanks to their hold on state legislatures after the 2010 census. Racism has become such a prevalent factor in the use of gerrymandering that some states have filed lawsuits against it.

Campaigning for new states could be the way disenfranchised populaces get around this problem. Why, for example, should the liberal and non-white people of the American South have to have reduced political capital than their neighbors’ racism and conservatism?

Chuck Thompson asked this question to a larger extent in his book “Better Off Without ‘Em,” which argued half-in-jest but half-seriously that the American South should be allowed to secede for the good of the rest of the nation so the rest of the U.S. could move forward without its leaden weight.

But while that idea is but a pipe dream, as Thompson even admits in the book, it is much more plausible for disenfranchised black and liberal people — which as Thompson mentioned several times, are almost always one and the same — to ditch the dead weight of dead ideas.

They could cast themselves off that sinking ship and attain statewide sovereignty, increasing fairness in the system by allowing those voices marginalized by gerrymandering to speak. They could force the states they slough off to get their act together since they can no longer lean on the seceded for tax revenue.

Disenfranchised populations should be using this tactic as a tool to save themselves from old white people afraid of demographic death. And to Baja Arizona, those kinds of people are exactly the sort of vultures keeping this state down.

So cry havoc and campaign onwards for 2016 to bring Baja Arizona into being. After all, the government can’t ignore partition supporters if they are loud enough for long enough.

And to be blunt, Baja Arizona does not deserve to be shackled to a populace whose interests it gets along with about as well as baking soda and vinegar do.

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Tom Johnson is a film and television production junior. Follow him on Twitter.


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