The Big One

Long before Trump flags became ubiquitous along California’s rural highways, there were signs proclaiming the State of Jefferson.

Across most of Northern and Central California, as soon as the outlying suburbs and strip malls give way to farms and oak woodland, the signs appear. Some are just sheets of plywood, makeshift billboards with “Jefferson” spray painted onto the weathering surface. Others are professionally designed, manufactured signs and flags, complete with the Jefferson state “seal,” a yellow gold pan with two intersecting X’s in the middle.

This movement, seeking to secede from California and form a new U.S. state, could be dismissed as a futile joke. But the signs and the flags are everywhere. They represent the sentiments of millions of Californians who know, with ample cause, that the politicians in Sacramento don’t represent them and don’t care.

Over the past ten years, beginning roughly at the same time as the Tea Party Movement became a national phenomenon, and further catalyzed by Trump’s popularity later in the decade, the State of Jefferson movement has acquired new momentum. But alienation in this increasingly polarized state is not restricted to its rural population.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper channeled the frustrations of additional millions of urbanites when he qualified the “Three Californias” initiative for the November 2018 state ballot. The initiative was struck down by the California Supreme Court, which deemed it unconstitutional, but not before it attracted international attention. Draper, who favors government decentralization and accountability, drew […] Read More