San Bernardino County Votes to Consider Secession

By: Sharjeel Sohaib

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Dec 31, 2022

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  • Residents of San Bernardino County in California voted to consider seceding from the state and forming their state in the November elections.Β 
  • The county, home to 2.2 million people, the fifth-most populous in the state, and the largest in the nation by area, has suffered from rising living costs.Β 
  • The measure is a sign of state political unrest and economic distress. It reflects frustration with the state government’s handling of issues such as the homeless crisis, rising housing costs, and crime rates, as well as the allocation of public funds.Β 
  • The proposal would need approval from the California Legislature and Congress to proceed, which is highly unlikely. The voting took place in a racially and ethnically diverse county that is politically mixed.

Frustrated San Bernardino County Voters to Consider Secession

Californians continued to support progressive leadership in the November elections. Still, residents of one of the most populous counties in the state are so fed up with this political course that they voted to contemplate seceding and founding their state.

San Bernardino County supported an advisory ballot measure ordering local officials to investigate the possibility of secession. The narrow victory is the most recent indicator of California’s political turmoil and financial hardship.

For the county east of Los Angeles, which has seen steep rises in the cost of living, this quest to establish a new stateβ€”the first since Hawaii in 1959β€”is a longshot. It would depend on Congress’ and California’s legislatures’ approval, both of which are highly doubtful.

The Significance of San Bernardino County’s Vote

The vote came from a politically divided county that is the largest in terms of territory and racial and ethnic diversity and the fifth most populous in the state. San Bernardino has more territory than nine states.

The votes reflect the disenchantment some voters feel with a democratic-dominated state legislature that has done nothing to address the expanding homelessness crisis, skyrocketing housing costs, and rising crime rates while residents continue to pay some of the highest taxes in the nation.

According to Curt Hagman, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors decided to put the issue on the ballot. There is “a lot of frustration” with the state government and how tax monies are allocated, with much too little going to the county. The county will examine whether local governments in the Inland Empire received an equitable distribution of billions of dollars in state and federal subsidies.

For locals, “it’s been a difficult few years” with record inflation and conflict over the state’s protracted COVID-19 pandemic policy, according to Hagman.

Criticism of Secession Proposition as a Political Trick

The proposition was criticized by Kristin Washington, chair of the San Bernardino County Democratic Party, as a political ploy to turn out conservative voters rather than a gauge of popular opinion.

Democratic voters currently exceed Republicans in San Bernardino County by a 12-point margin. However, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom lost the county in November by 5 points. 

Last year, he survived a recall effort sparked by opposition to pandemic health decrees that closed down businesses and schools. California was one of the first states to shut down schools and switch to online education, and it was also one of the last to allow students to return to classroom instruction.

Wrap Up!

In the November elections, San Bernardino County, a diverse and politically mixed county in California, voted to consider seceding and forming their state due to frustration with the state’s progressive leadership and issues such as the homeless crisis, high housing costs, and rising crime rates. 

While the measure is a long shot and would require approval from the California Legislature and Congress, it highlights some voters’ alienation from the state government. It is not the first time California has faced attempts to secede, with over 220 failed attempts in the state’s 172-year history driven by competition between industries and opposition to taxation. 

Despite being dominated by Democrats, Governor Gavin Newsom lost the county by 5 points in the November election.

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