If rural Colorado residents get their way, Old Glory might need another star. A secession movement has been gaining steam there since early July:
“An open request to Colorado Democratic Party: If our differences are irreconcilable (and I believe most would agree that they are), please state your case why a divorce should not be granted.
Which counties are with Boulder/Denver and which are part of the new state are to be determined by the people in each County – so far we set that aside. However, make the argument why we should stay together…” — 51st State Initiative’s Facebook page
Colorado residents are watching their state that’s historically fairly conservative with a libertarian streak change from red to blue. And this dissatisfaction is one of the reasons some rural residents want a divorce or to create their own state, separate from the liberals in Boulder and Denver.
In the past decade, the state has experienced a massive demographic shift. The tech industry brought millions of people from out of state, especially California, many of whom were liberal and not familiar with the culture and background of native Coloradans.
In the last decade, conservative counties have become Democrat strongholds, and the state’s political climate shifted. Democrats started reliably winning statewide elections, and many of them would move to Colorado, ascend through the political ranks, finish their careers, and, ultimately, leave.
The 2012 elections brought all of these forces to a head. Largely due to an incredibly corrupt redistricting battle a year before, Democrats took both the State House and Senate. Governor John Hickenlooper had dubiously made his name as a moderate under a divided legislature, but as soon as he had a reliably Democrat government backing him, he signed every extreme bill that made its way to his desk – everything from an overhaul of the election rules making it impossible to eliminate fraud to the gun control legislation, which gained national notoriety.
Even before that, though, Hickenlooper had expressed shockingly ignorant sentiments about the state’s rural residents. Before the 2010 election he said, “You know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.”
It’s in this political climate that the 51st State Initiative – originally called the State of North Colorado – emerged. Originally just six counties, the movement expanded throughout the state and even to counties in the neighboring states of Kansas and Nebraska.
Those in this grassroots movement believe that people shouldn’t be forced to live under a government, which they feel do not represent them, their views, their needs, interests, or lifestyle.
“The ‘you lost the election, deal with it’ argument used by so many opposed to the initiative lacks both substance and character. Liberal areas can continue to govern themselves in liberal ways without forcing those who disagree to live the same way. There can be no justification for doing so,” one resident said.
Sarah, a Colorado native said, “The argument about ‘loving your state’ is flawed, because allegiance to a state does not mean loyalty to the set of borders, which separates it from other states. It means allegiance to the ideas, principles and people which have made the state what it is. Sometimes, creative solutions are needed to uphold those. “
The idea of secession actually has a strong historical precedent. West Virginia was the most recent state to separate from another (it split from Virginia before the Civil War), and Maine had previously seceded from Massachusetts, Kentucky from Virginia, the Carolinas, the Dakotas, Tennessee from North Carolina, and Vermont from both New York and New Hampshire.
“In a country which is increasingly politically and ideologically polarized, solutions like this can help diffuse tension. If people can live and govern themselves without fear of what they view as oppression, ideas can flow without emotions running as high. Acceptance of this idea should not just come from the right wing; it should come from both sides of the political spectrum and everywhere in between. At its heart, this issue is solely one of the rights of citizens to govern themselves as they see fit, and that should be something everyone embraces,” said Sarah.
The idea of liberty and freedom has already started to take root throughout the nation. Citizens of Upstate New York have just filed a petition to Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting emancipation from New York City, allowing them their right “to self govern.”
Jeffrey Hare, the founder of The 51st State Initiative, told BenSwann.com about their progress and strategy for forming a new state:
“There are three phases to the creation of a new state. Phase I: Local Support: Local support is being mobilized County by County. Several Counties are evaluating support for the statehood initiative by placing a question on this November’s ballot. The ballot question is being drafted and coordinated among the counties that are proceeding in this direction. The ballot question will be a non-binding referendum that will act as a ‘poll’ of the local support for creating the new state.
Phase II: State Approval and Amendment of State Constitution: This will likely take place in 2014. We will be asking the State legislature to refer it to the ballot. If they are not willing, we will likely gather signatures through a citizen’s initiative.
Phase III: Congressional Approval: We would be seeking US Congressional approval once it is approved by the state legislature. A common concern about seeking U.S. Congressional approval is that it would change the balance of power by allowing for, what would likely be, two more U.S. senators from a conservative state. Many believe Democrats in Congress would never vote for it because of this. The District of Columbia has been seeking statehood for quite some time. Perhaps Congress would vote to allow the two states to be admitted at the same time since it wouldn’t change the balance of power in the Senate.”
“This is indeed a grassroots effort and we are receiving support from various political affiliations across the spectrum. The initiative is best described as an urban vs rural issue, but there is a groundswell of folks in urban communities that are equally frustrated with the progressive agenda set by Denver / Boulder being forced on the rest of the state.
We believe that statewide ballot will be supported by folks of all political persuasions. Progressives and liberals will likely vote for the ‘divorce’ as they’d rather not be constrained in the implementation of their agenda. A similar statewide ballot initiative was approved by voters 70% – 30% in 1998 to create the County of Broomfield – which was formerly a city contained in four counties (Boulder, Weld, Jefferson, and Adams),” said Hare.
This initiative has been primarily promoted through word of mouth, their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/The51stStateInitiative), and their website. You can follow their progress via www.51stState.org.