E. J. Montini writes an excellent column in the Arizona Republic. He muses on the movement to Free Baja Arizona…
by E. J. Montini, columnist – Feb. 27, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Arizona will no longer be parodied on “The Daily Show.”
We’re done providing “The Colbert Report” with material to spoof or for The Onion to lampoon. Late-night comedians will be unable to make jokes at our expense.
Arizona has crossed over.
Last week, the ridiculous was transformed into the plausible. The demented became sane. All that was hilarious about Arizona devolved into the droll. The slapstick was made factual. Farce became reality.
And satire, in our state, became fact.
We fell down the rabbit hole and emerged at the other end in . . . Baja Arizona?
“It’s possible,” Peter Hormel said. “There has been talk for generations about southern Arizona splitting off into its own state. Most of it was meant in fun. But these days are different. It actually might be the right time.”
Hormel and fellow Tucson attorney Paul Eckerstrom have formed a group of Arizona citizens exploring the possibility of making Pima County a separate state, a real Baja Arizona.
(At this point in the column, I should be able to print a line reading: “Insert joke here.” But I can’t. These people are serious.)
“The idea only became public a few days ago, and already we are being overwhelmed,” Hormel told me. “We’ve received so much encouragement and have heard from so many people who want to help in the effort. I have a sense that people are just really tired of what is going on up there.”
The group created a page on Facebook called Start Our State, on which they describe their intentions this way:
“Welcome to SOS! Start Our State is now active. Our first goal is a referendum in Pima County on statehood for our county (and whichever other Arizona counties wish to join us). We seek to establish a state based on justice, reason, and openness, free of the tyranny of idiocy in Phoenix.”
Co-founder Eckerstrom, who has been active in the state Democratic Party, told a reporter: “We’re tired of the extremism that’s been portrayed to the rest of the country, and we feel we’re different down here.”
It sounds crazy, right?
Then again, is the idea of creating a new state from Arizona’s southern counties any more bizarre than a Legislature trying to pass bills that would allow lawmakers to “nullify” any federal law they didn’t like?
Essentially, seceding from the union.
“We send up a group of moderate representatives from Pima County, and they just get overwhelmed by zealots,” Hormel said.
Pima County is bigger than most of the New England states and has more people than Alaska, Montana or the Dakotas.
“As it is, we feel as if we send our tax money to Phoenix and it is used in Maricopa County,” Hormel said. “This area would probably see a net benefit, financially, from becoming a state.”
It might also add two new Democratic senators to Congress, a possibility that will make it tough for the group to get the support in Washington it needs to create a new state.
That doesn’t mean that the idea is thought of as a prank, however. After speaking to me, Hormel was going to fulfill an interview request with the Wall Street Journal.
And while Start Our State hopes to secede from Arizona, Hormel pointed out that he and his associates, unlike current legislative leaders, want to remain in the union.
This is very good news.
It means that although impertinent journalists and comedians may have been robbed of potential satire, we still have sweet irony.
Reach Montini at 602-444-8978 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether or not the effort the actually create the state of Baja Arizona has any chance…it is focusing attention of the divide politically between Phoenix and Tucson.