Osha Gray Davidson writes in Forbes “Even so, Baja Arizona may succeed in another way. The secessionist movement sends a powerful message to prospective businesses that the region is different from the butt of late-night talk shows to the north. Baja Arizona might not become a new state, but it certainly shows a more moderate state of mind.”
Feb. 25 2011 – 1:36 pm |By OSHA GRAY DAVIDSON Forbes
PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA. Residents of this sprawling desert county which borders Mexico have a message for what they consider the extremists who currently dominate Arizona’s state government.
That message is: “Buh bye.”
Talk of secession fills the dry air in the cactus-studded land that would become the nation’s 51st state, with the name Baja Arizona.
Proposed flag for Baja Arizona (by Dillon Hayne)
Paul Eckerstrom is co-chair of the insurgent group, Start Our State, told the Arizona Daily Star that supporters of the movement are fed up with far-right policies coming out of the state legislature and Governor’s office in Phoenix — especially legislation that defies the power of the federal government. The most famous (or infamous) example is the law passed last year that usurps federal authority to enforce immigration laws. Passage of the bill led to a nationwide boycott of Arizona
This extreme position, said Eckerstrom, “really does border on them saying they don’t want to be part of the Union any longer. Well, I want to be part of the United States.”
Others are joining the movement for statehood for economic reasons. Arizona has a huge budget deficit, but, say Baja Arizonans, the Republican-led legislature and Republican Governor Jan Brewer are either not addressing the state’s economic woes — focusing instead on anti-immigrant and anti-abortion bills — or working for changes that will hurt the economy. One example of the later is the proposed legislation to gut or end altogether the state’s health care program for poor and elderly patients. That would cut Arizona’s annual payment of around $2 billion, but would also trigger a cut-off of federal funds totaling $7 billion a year. The plan, say experts, would force most rural hospitals in Arizona to close and cause a devastating ripple effect throughout the state’s fragile economy.
Proponents of Baja Arizona point out that Pima County is large enough — in both geographical size and population — to be a viable state. Encompassing over 9,000 square miles, Pima County is bigger than Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island. With over a million residents, it is also more populous than seven other states.
The group’s Facebook page lists as its mission:
To establish a new state in Southern Arizona free of the un-American, unconstitutional machinations of the Arizona legislature and to restore our region’s credibility as a place welcoming to others, open to commerce, and friendly to its neighbors.
Group members insist they’re serious about their desire to secede, but know the odds are against them.
Even so, Baja Arizona may succeed in another way. The secessionist movement sends a powerful message to prospective businesses that the region is different from the butt of late-night talk shows to the north. Baja Arizona might not become a new state, but it certainly shows a more moderate state of mind.