Six Thoughts on Six Californias

The news is full of talk about secessionism and state-splitting now that eccentric venture capitalist Tim Draper’s “Six Californias” plan has qualified for the ballot. It would, as the name suggests, split California into six parts.  A few initial reactions, because I am befuddled and fascinated by how this would work.

  1. The water politics of Six Californias are horrifying.  Specifically, Central California would have a stranglehold over the water to the coasts, and control of the water supply is actually one of the key objectives of Central California Republicans today.  Will they try and starve the coasts to keep cheap water for farming?
  2. You need the approval of the California State Legislature and the US Congress, according to the Constitution.  Good luck with that.
  3. This would be a meaningful handicap to Democratic Presidential candidates, but a gigantic boon for the Democratic position in the Senate.
  4. There’s no conceivable way this won’t devastate rural California’s economy (particularly the new states of Central California and Jefferson) which are currently heavily subsidized by the coast.
  5. It seems like this would create a truly gigantic mess for existing contracts and legal actions governed by California law, especially long-term ones that would reasonably stretch beyond whatever adjustment period is going to go on the ballot.
  6. This does provide an intriguing possibility to sweep out some of the junk in the California state constitution and law, since presumably each new state will write their own constitutions. If the new states rely less on initiatives, that could ultimately provide for more stable governance in The Region Formerly Known as California.

I find it very hard to believe that this will pass (but will readjust my priors if it starts polling at 70%), so this is mostly academic.  As an academic matter, I am incredibly curious!


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