We have seen the future, and the future is Colorado. Or something.
Five rural counties in Colorado voted last week to form their own state, a place without urban liberal laws such as those allowing recreational use of marijuana, gay marriage or mandatory renewable energy. Residents of the 51st state — located near the Kansas border — would also be able to own ammunition magazines holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
It’s all for show, of course. Under Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, Colorado and Congress would have to give consent for a 51st state to be formed within Colorado’s borders. But the motive for the vote was telling, and has import for other states, including Nevada. “We can’t outvote the metropolitan areas anymore, and the rural areas don’t have a voice anymore,” said Perk Odell, 80, a resident of one of the secessionist counties, according to The Associated Press.
Sound familiar? How about Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, in the lesser-known portion of his recent slavery speech: “That is the biggest divide in the state, North and South. Las Vegas wants everything and they don’t care about the rurals, OK?” Wheeler said. “And I have no other way to put it; they don’t care about the rurals. They want our mining money and they want more of it, and they want to be able to take money.”
Ah, yes, those rotten Clark County residents, always sponging off the North! Leave aside for a moment the fact that Northern Nevada could not continue in the lifestyle to which it has become accustomed without Southern subsidies. Consider the result of Wheeler’s frustration with legislation supported by those from the South: “We were actually going to try and start the paperwork to split the state. We will try to — we will try to make Clark County its own state, or, or better yet, a district.”
That’s an idea with which many Southern Nevadans might agree — if any of us ever bothered to give the North or the rurals any thought in the first place.
It should probably not be a surprise that talk of secession is on the rise (residents of Northern California, Arizona and even western Maryland have discussed it at various times. It is a natural extension of the uncompromising take-my-ball-and-go-home philosophy currently in vogue in some circles. If the government doesn’t work the way some think it should, then shut it down. And if a state’s policies can no longer be thwarted by rural votes, form your own state!
In fact, some might suggest that’s the very philosophy that led to the formation of America itself, as people who wanted to live with more freedom than they were afforded in Europe risked a long ocean voyage to carve a life out of the New World. But at least they had the decency to depart Europe and build their new life in a new place. Modern secessionists want to do it right here.
Certainly, the long-shot nature of creating new states means most of these movements are simply cries for attention from people who feel neglected by their state government, whether it be in Denver or Carson City. But the solution to those frustrations is not to give up, walk away and form a new state, one that would undoubtedly succumb to the same political frustrations in time. The solution is to stay and forge a compromise with your neighbors, so that people of unlike views can live together harmoniously. Those compromises often mean that none of us will get the society we think is perfect. But they’re also the building blocks of what we know today as the United States of America.
And for those who can’t abide that idea, there’s the example of the pilgrims: An ocean voyage and a new world across the sea.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.