ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH HANSEL
Almost anywhere you drive through Arctic California, you’ll see blooming and gold signs, flags and banners heralding the accession of the Accompaniment of Jefferson, a agitator movement that about succeeded in 1941 and, added recently, has developed like a grass blaze in the era of Trump.
The signs affection “The Abundant Seal of the Accompaniment of Jefferson,” a gold pan emblazoned with two X’s—Jeffersonians accept continued believed they’ve been double-crossed by big burghal politicians in Sacramento who booty their money but avoid their concerns.
Over the aftermost two years, the signs accept popped up on billboards, advanced yards, and haystacks, sometimes aing to Confederate flags and anti-immigrant slogans.
They can additionally be apparent at canton fairs and accepted rallies featuring supporters, some in appearance fatigues, alfresco the Federal Building in Sacramento, area the secessionists accept taken their activity all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jeffersonians altercate that aback Southern California has 111 adopted accompaniment reps (74 accumulation associates and 37 senators) and Arctic California aloft the San Francisco Bay Area, alone nine (six in the assembly, three in the Senate), the courts accept “a legal, moral and constitutional” obligation to fix this alterity by abacus added accompaniment legislators, abnormally in extensive rural counties.
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INFOGRAPHIC BY SARAH HANSEL
“Taxation afterwards representation,” the ambulatory cry of the American Revolution, now resonates with tens of bags of Jeffersonians in 23 counties from Stanislaus to the Oregon border—nearly all of which voted for Trump. The “double cross” dates aback to 1941 aback association of bristles counties, ailing of advantageous taxes and not accepting bare anchorage in return, aing armament with rural Arctic Californians to abdicate and again formed their own bound patrol.
Today, they reflect a growing affect that California should be carved into anywhere from two to six states in adjustment to abundantly administer its 40 actor bodies and their adverse political angle on a ample ambit of issues, including immigration, gun control, baptize rights and ecology regulations.
Just this summer, a admeasurement to ask Congress to breach California into three states, backed by Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper, able for the November ballot. It was eventually invalidated by the California Supreme Court, which questioned the measure’s constitutionality.
The acknowledged setback didn’t abash Jeffersonians.
Indeed, this absurd array of survivalists and hippies, pot growers and hardline cops, absolute acreage appraisers and loggers, angry advisers and gun-lovers, Latinos and anti-immigrants has aing forces, acutely impervious to criticisms.
While Jefferson’s leader, Mark Baird, claims the movement is non-partisan, Baird admits he, and abounding added Jeffersonians, voted for Donald Trump—”he wasn’t my aboriginal choice, I basic Ted Cruz”—because they couldn’t angle Hillary Clinton. He additionally acknowledges Trump’s achievement empowered bags of antagonistic voters in Jefferson country, and acclaimed that the added federal lath Trump appoints in California, abnormally to the absolutely advanced 9th Ambit Cloister of Appeals, the bigger Jefferson’s chances.
Critics beyond California and the nation accept alleged Jefferson a asinine scheme, a adversity in the making.
But Baird and others altercate that Jefferson’s time is now.
“Our window of befalling is here,” he said.
“California has become a absolute nightmare”
The Jeffersonian movement has afresh re-ignited and advance beyond California. Now, supporters as far south as San Bernardino appetite in, alike admitting it’s not applied to accept counties that aren’t contiguous, Baird said. But he understands why bankrupt rural Californians statewide appetite to join.
“California has become a absolute daydream of amusing engineering, and bodies are bailing out, we’ve absent 9,000 businesses and about a actor advantageous people,” Baird said.
Jefferson’s Acknowledgment of Ability opens with a Trumpian-sounding bluster that claims leaders such as Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom “have aboveboard and about declared war on the government of the United States.”
“Is this or is this not a nation of laws?” it reads. “[We] Declare the 51st State, Jefferson, to chargeless us from tyranny!”
The accent and account date aback abundant added than the 45th president.
In 1941, Jeffersonians captured absorption aback they formed a insubordinate militia and alike chock-full drivers on Highway 99 in Siskiyou Canton at gunpoint, handing out their acknowledgment of ability and bonanza stickers absolution them apperceive they were entering the Accompaniment of Jefferson.
Stanton Delaplane, a biographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, could aroma a abundant adventure 300 afar away. He rode into Siskiyou Canton and won the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for advertisement his advantage of the “mountain men” rebellion.
“Gun-toting citizens of these insubordinate counties are partly mad, partly in fun, partly ardent about this new state,” Delaplane wrote then.
The rebels—then absolute four counties in California and one in Oregon—demanded the accompaniment body promised anchorage into the mountains absolute millions of dollars of nut deposits, “and if they don’t get them appealing soon, there’s no cogent what they ability do.”
“This is the aftermost borderland and the adamantine angle of asperous appearance that is not a political slogan,” Delaplane opined in his December 1, 1941 piece.
PHOTO BY STEVE MAGAGNINI
Jeffersonians appeared on the border of accepting approval from Congress to breach abroad until it was absolute out of the baptize by the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
The movement remained abundantly beneath the alarm until Mark Baird, 65, a beefcake reincarnation of John Wayne, started breath new activity into Jefferson bristles years ago. The 6-foot-4-inch blaze tanker pilot, agriculturist and assets agent sheriff from Siskiyou Canton cuts an absorbing figure. He sports a atramentous belt holster, but instead of a sidearm, packs his weapon of choice, a archetype of the Constitution.
Many politicians, academics and journalists seek to aish Baird and his adolescent Jeffersonians as a agglomeration of gun-toting, bourgeois rednecks, Trumpies and neo-Confederates whose affairs of ablution the 51st accompaniment are abbreviate to none and slim’s larboard town.
Tim Onderko, vice-mayor of Loomis in Placer County, empathizes with Jeffersonians—to a point.
“I accept bodies feel under-represented or biased and appetite to accomplish a change—I absolutely get it, I’m all about bounded control,” Onderko said. “But we accept to accept a state-wide built-in convention. How would Jeffersonians abutment themselves?”
Onderko’s skepticism was amplified by the Accompaniment Aldermanic Analyst’s Office, a detached anticipate tank, which aftermost year issued a 13-page address on alienation analogue a advanced ambit of abeyant problems, including who will pay for and accomplish accessible schools, courts, prisons, water, welfare, transportation, parks and accompaniment agencies.
If the admeasurement was accustomed by voters and the federal government—and until California and Jefferson came to an acceding on how to breach the state’s assets and liabilities, the address read, “all tax collections and spending by the absolute accompaniment of California would end.”
Baird’s acclimated to not actuality taken seriously.
When he and his accounts expert, Steven Baird (no relation) of Sacramento, showed up for a appointed arrangement with Gov. Brown to present their alienation plan, for example, a California Highway Convoying administrator alfresco the governor’s appointment told them the state’s arch “had added important things to do.”
“We couldn’t alike get the guy who brings them coffee to booty our papers, so we alone them off in the mail room,” Steven Baird said.
Mark Baird is according genitalia Don Quixote, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. He lives in Scott Valley, a adamantly absolute association 30 afar west of Yreka, now the conditional basic of Jefferson.
Baird said he and several added ranchers took on the California Department of Fish & Game a decade ago, “when they were aggravating to allegation us $25,000 per agronomical for our baptize rights and able admission to our land.”
“We told them not alone ‘no’ but ‘hell no’—if you appetite our baptize be able to booty it.”
Ultimately, Mark Baird and aggregation never had to display their weapons, Fish & Game aloof austere out. That achievement set the table: On September 3, 2013, the avant-garde accompaniment of Jefferson was built-in aback Baird and about 100 supporters presented the Siskiyou Lath of Supervisors with their Acknowledgment of Ability and won approval by a 4-1 vote.
Baird, a walking album of California history and built-in law who’s addicted of commendation Alexis de Tocqueville and Frederick Douglass, has awash his dream beyond a all-inclusive amplitude of California.
“We’ve aloft added than $500,000—$2 at a time, and I’ve been account acknowledged cases like a crazy law apprentice for the aftermost bristles years,” he said.
Teachers, mechanics, doctors, lawyers, clerks, baby business owners, farmers, ranchers and survivalists accept all contributed.
“While best of us are gray-hairs, we accept a able Facebook attendance in all our counties, and adolescent bodies are axis out for our fairs and events,” Baird said.
Whatever their age, accomplishments or profession, Jeffersonians allotment a accepted disbelief of big-city, heavy-handed government, Mark Baird says. He knows affluence of association who “hate California, they abhorrence the taxes, rules and regulations.”
Baird and abounding added Jeffersonians accept a audibly autonomous flavor. They say their new accompaniment will abundantly be absolute by alone counties that will accomplish their own laws and armamentarium their own police, courts, blaze departments, schools, accessible admiral and busted medical care.
“Spending, except in attenuate cases such as the accompaniment Supreme Court, apprenticeship aloft K-12 and prisons will be handled at a city/county level,” explained Steven Baird, the accounts expert, who ran for the sprawling 1st Accumulation Commune in 2016 on a pro-Jefferson Platform and lost. Now, he argues that one commune with 11 counties shortchanges about every constituent.
“It is up to the bodies in those communities how they appetite their taxes and money to be spent. We will not force any canton to armamentarium any accurate action.”
A new independence
Here’s what Jefferson would attending like based on demography annal from the 23 counties that accept active on and two others on the fence, either through acclamation or a vote of their lath of supervisors: 2.5 actor people, 69 percent Caucasian, 21 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian, about 3 percent multi-racial, 1.6 percent American Indian and 1.6 percent African-American. Nineteen counties voted for Trump, four (Mendocino, Lake, Nevada and Stanislaus) went for Clinton.
If alienation happens, Jefferson would authority a built-in assemblage to draw its own aldermanic boundaries.
Jefferson’s governor and courts would accept beneath ability to accredit or veto legislation—that albatross would abatement absolutely on the legislature. About all services—from badge to blaze to schools—would be run by alone counties, Baird said.
PHOTO BY STEVE MAGAGNINI
Critics both central and out of Jefferson’s boundaries, including Chamber of Commerce admiral and esplanade rangers, abhorrence a accompaniment fabricated up of California’s atomic counties won’t accept the assets to accommodate affection services—they say the accompaniment sends added money aback to those counties than it collects from them.
But Jeffersonians altercate that afterwards accepting to pay income, sales or accumulated taxes to the state, their banking archetypal shows an accumulated canton surplus afterwards abbreviation accepted spending for schools, roads, accessible assurance and infrastructure, according to their website.
The Jefferson movement welcomes all absolute parties, and the Blooming Party, which has denticulate few victories elsewhere, would accept a bigger adventitious active in freshly-drawn rural districts, Mark Baird said.
Not all Jeffersonians are crazy about their namesake, but Steven Baird says it fits.
“I assumption we attach to Thomas Jefferson’s attempt of bound government. We would like to reboot the amount behavior of our Founding Fathers.”
America’s Founding Fathers believed every American would accept the befalling to accomplish but there’s no agreement of success: You will accomplish on your own claim and resources.
The Accompaniment of Jefferson has sparked affluence of action aural its boundaries.
Keep it California, a detached accumulation based in Sierra City, for one, is adamantly anti-Jefferson. The accumulation claims the absolute costs to Jeffersonians, alignment from accepting to pay out of accompaniment charge to California universities to accepting to buy their way out of California’s $778 billion debt, which agency Jefferson’s projected $3.16 billion anniversary account will be broken to $840 million.
“This angle would actualize a actual weak, Balkanized states with little accord throughout creating abashing and uncertainty,” declares Keept It California’s website. “It wouldn’t alike agreement that the few analogously affluent counties (Eldorado and Placer, both Jeffersonian bastions) would accept to advice the poorer counties.”
Placerville’s Jamie Beutler, armchair of the California Democratic Party, Rural Caucus, said Accumulate It California was formed in 2015 to adverse Jefferson afterwards its leaders began persuading canton afterwards canton to accompany up.
“I anticipate it’s crazy—I accept their frustration,” she said. “But they get added money from the accompaniment for roads, schools, hospitals, basement than they would get if they bankrupt away.
While Mark Baird says Jefferson would deliver mining, timber, agriculture and activity from California control, Beutler notes, “most of the baptize and forests are federally controlled, so annihilation would change there.”
Baird hopes that Jefferson can become a absoluteness in bristles years; Beutler counters that notion.
“I anticipate there’s no adventitious of this passing, but there’s a autonomous affection across-the-board the country and they accept been emdened, all these abhorrence movements accept risen up,” he says. “These are the aforementioned bodies who accept been alloyed with abhorrence by Trump, Rush Limbaugh, and alt-right media. They accept to what they appetite to apprehend and don’t accept to reason.”
Voters, lawsuits and accurate grit
While Jefferson’s affairs to actualize a appropriate Native American accumulation bench has generated abutment from some of the abounding Indians aural its boundaries, Jessica Jim, an ancient with the 5,000 affiliate federally accustomed Pit River Tribe who sits on the acceptance committee, said, “the botheration is, who is activity to get ascendancy of that seat?”
Jim, who lives and works in Burney, said she feels Jeffersonians are artlessly pandering.
“We accept Karuk, Hoopa, Susanville and Pit River amid the 37 tribes in Arctic California. We all accept altered dances and beliefs. They’re aggravating to allay us,” she said. “We said no, you amusement us on a government-to-government, contiguous basis.”
Mark Baird, who agrees abounding capacity charge to be formed out, nonetheless insists they’ll be successful.
“We are acrimonious up beef in the face of some appealing austere action from both political parties.”
Though Jefferson’s two U.S. Senators will acceptable be Republicans, he says, there’s no absolute accord amid the political affair and secessionists.
“Republicans abhorrence us added than Democrats, because they accept actually added to lose,” Baird said.
In fact, three U.S. Assembly will about-face from California to the new state, and those seats tend to be captivated by Republicans, who Baird says generally avoid rural Californians.
Despite some 200 attempts to bisect California into two or added states alike afore California entered the Abutment in 1850, including one accomplishment that was on the border of afterwards when, it too, was absolute up by a war, in this case, the Civil War, these efforts accept been batty by political and acknowledged opposition.
In January, Silicon Valley adventure backer Tim Draper—claiming 40 actor Californians were not abundantly represented either in the accompaniment accumulation or the United States—collected added than 400,000 accurate signatures to breach California into three states, condoning it for the November ballot. Draper additionally launched bootless campaigns to breach up California into six states in 2012 and 2014.
Draper’s accepted bid fizzled aback the California Supreme Cloister absolutely assured “that the abeyant abuse in allowing the admeasurement to abide on the acclamation outweighs the abeyant abuse in dabbling the hypothesis to a approaching election.”
PHOTO BY STEVE MAGAGNINI
Even if voters had accustomed Draper’s proposition, it couldn’t become absoluteness afterwards Congressional approval—the aforementioned obstacle Jefferson faces, d it can actuate the California accumulation to go forth with it. But in the era of Trump, the achievability of giving California—the bluest of dejected states—more Republican seats in the Accumulation and House of Assembly may not be that far-fetched.
Meanwhile, afterwards advertence the Accompaniment of Jefferson, Citizens for Fair Representation sued California Secretary of Accompaniment Alex Padilla, arguing that Californians accept the affliction proportional representation in the nation—each of the 40 senators represent about 1 actor people, while anniversary of the 80 accumulation associates represent about bisected a million. California’s 53 U.S. assembly anniversary represent about 740,000 people.
The plaintiffs, which accommodate the American Absolute Affair of California, the Autonomous Affair of California, several arctic counties, Mark Baird and added Jefferson leaders, accept fabricated a adequately able case that the California Accumulation and Accumulation charge to admission their associates “so we can all accept access, not aloof the lobbyists,” Baird wrote in his acknowledging document.
The plaintiffs approved to get the U.S. Supreme Cloister to accept their case heard by a three-judge panel, but the cloister alone their request. They absent that round, but they’re acquisitive the Sacramento federal adjudicator who handled their case, Kim Mueller, can still be abiding to let them altercate their case in court. If not, they will address to the 9th circuit, Mark Baird said.
The Jeffersonians accept no abdicate in them. Over barbecue at the House of Chicken in Antelope, Mark Baird, aing by Steven and Dianna Baird, said California has historically kept the cardinal of accompaniment senators low to accumulate Chinese, African-Americans, Mexicans and added minorities from actuality represented.
“In 1879 there were six altered African-American assembly aback the accumulation captivated a Built-in Assemblage that led to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act,” Baird explained. He said Californians took up the chant, “The Chinese charge go,” arch to deportations that could accept been prevented had Chinese communities had the appropriate to accept accompaniment representatives. The aforementioned affair happened to blank Mexican immigrants, Baird said. Amid 1929 and 1936, the United States launched the Mexican Repatriation program, which abandoned anywhere from an estimated 400,000 to 2 actor Mexican Americans, the majority of them from California.
That “tyranny” continues today, he said, abacus that the Jefferson movement embraces bodies of all races.
Despite its insubordinate beginnings, Jefferson has admiring an added assorted following.
Lisa Pruitt, a UC Davis law assistant specializing in rural and burghal differences, said she has apparent Jefferson signs in El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras Counties.
“I saw a Jefferson decal on a Prius in Fair Oaks, and on I-80 a Davis,” she said. “It’s all over rural California and bit-by-bit into burghal California. I’ve apparent their stickers on cars in Target parking lots.”
The added arctic you go, the bigger the signs, Pruitt said.
“There’s a lot of agitation on the allotment of rural Californians who feel their interests are not actuality heard or taken actively in Sacramento,” Pruitt said. “The archetype is the accompaniment gas tax: bodies in rural areas who drive continued ambit don’t feel they get annihilation for their buck.”
Mark Baird argues that there’s a celebrated antecedent for Jefferson: Vermont larboard New York and New Hampshire in 1791, Kentucky larboard Virginia in 1792, Maine anchored from Massachusetts in 1820 and West Virginia—which argued that Virginia committed cabal by breaking abroad from the abutment to accompany the confederacy—got its ability in 1863.
Pruitt, however, disagrees.
“It’s not a acceptable analogy,” she said, abacus that West Virginia’s breach happened added than 150 years ago.
“People are absorbed by it, but case themselves into a abstracted accompaniment would not break their bread-and-er woes, and ability accomplish them worse,” she said. “I’m not assertive they would be in a bigger bearings if they got added representatives, rural interests would still be abundantly outnumbered by burghal interests in Jefferson. Legislators represent people, not beasts and trees.”
“The moment has come”
The attempt advanced didn’t bedew the activity for Jefferson at the Auburn Home Show aftermost month—the Jefferson berth accepted to be one of the best accepted destinations.
“We’ve abounding up four bedding with about 20 bodies anniversary today,” said Chris Page, a 55-year-old absolute acreage adjudicator from Granite Bay on a contempo Saturday afternoon.
“Close to 90 percent said if we don’t achieve our acreage and baptize rights, lower our taxes and restore our political representation, they will leave California,” said Page, a Republican who owns farmland in El Dorado County.
Jean Colegrove, 64, formed the berth in a blush Accompaniment of Jefferson hat and a Jefferson T-shirt declaring “Ha Llegado El Momento De Los 51 Estados”—”the moment has appear for the 51st State.” Colegrove said one of Jefferson’s arch Hispanic voices, David Garcia of Valley Springs afresh died, but there’s still solid Latino support.
Colegrove, a Libertarian, accepted she lives in Sacramento County, “behind adversary lines,” but said she sees abutment for Jefferson growing in Citrus Heights, Orangevale and Folsom.
“When Jerry Brown active the anti-cow farting and admixture legislation in October 2016, I said I’ll be abrogation the accompaniment afore I put a accoutrement on my cow’s ,” said Colegrove of the state’s plan to barrier cow-generated methane to abate greenhouse gasses.
Stephen Johnson, a retired artisan and chiropractor from Applegate, was accomplishing a active business affairs $15 shirts, caps, signs and flags. Some hats proclaimed “Jefferson Militia,” while others featured a gun and the slogan, “Mama Didn’t Raise No Victim.”
“We’re accepting fun with it,” said Johnson, 74. “Any militia will be done through our canton sheriff’s departments. Jefferson’s activity to accept maybe 50 accompaniment agencies, while California has over 500.”
Aleksei Ugachenko, a 17-year-old apprentice from Pioneer High School in Woodland, was absorbed by aggregate Jefferson has to offer.
“How would Jefferson accord with federally controlled assets and federal funds for schools? They ability accept to privatize their schools,” he pondered. “Still, I anticipate we should accept bigger representation up north.”
Mark Baird, Jefferson’s leader, agrees. His conversations with accustomed bodies accept fabricated it bright that the Accompaniment of Jefferson’s approaching holds promise.
“The oligarchy that runs Sacramento doesn’t affliction what the voters think,” he says. “We accept been over-taxed and over-regulated, and added and added bodies every day are accommodating to angle up and fight.”
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