The Ultimate Gerrymander

Glen Harland Reynolds discusses state secession at the USA Today. He is talking about splitting states rather than leaving the nation.  Read the whole thing to see some of the current movements.  Glen says:

Splitting a state is hard. West Virginia managed because the existing Virginia legislature was in rebellion against the United States, making it easy for President Lincoln and the Congress to recognize the new rump legislature put together in Wheeling as the “official” legislature of Virginia, and accepting its approval (which the Constitution requires) for forming a new state out of part of the old Virginia. Such circumstances aren’t likely today, let us hope, though if states like Illinois or California went bankrupt, they might agree to a split in exchange for a federal bailout.

Glen left out an example and a related problem that makes splitting a state darn near impossible now.  The example is Maine.  Maine separated from Massachusetts in 1820.  Wikipedia tells us how it happened:

Formal secession and formation of the state of Maine as the 23rd state occurred on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, which geographically limited the spread of slavery and enabled the admission to statehood of Missouri the following year, keeping a balance between slave and free states.

Glen doesn’t mention it but we think that northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would make a peachy new state.  New states change the balance of power in the US Senate.  In 1820 it was free versus slave.  Now it is Republican versus Democrat.  All of the proposals to add a new rural state would be welcomed by the GOP but would never be supported by the Dems.  The one possibility the Dems might consider is changing California into six states and of course if the Dems support it then the GOP would be against it.  In every case one of the parties will block it.

This reminds us of innovative ideas from new faculty members, in some cases we were the new ones.  The answers from the senior faculty members were always the same, “We’re not going to die on that hill.”  Sometimes they added one more word to the answer, “Again.”  We think it is still good advice.  There will be no Miconsin.


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