Some folks around here think the economic sky is falling and state lawmakers in Sacramento and Salem are ignoring their constituents in the hinterlands.
Guess the time is ripe to create a whole new state.
That’s the thinking up here along the border between California and Oregon, where 12 sparsely populated, thickly forested counties in both states want to break away and generate the 51st star on the nation’s flag – the state of Jefferson.
You can see the signs of discontent from Klamath Falls to Dunsmuir, where green double-X “Jefferson State” flags hang in scores of businesses. You can hear the talk of revolution at lunch counters and grocery lines, where people grumble that politicians to the north and south don’t care.
You can even hear the dissent on the radio, where 21 area FM stations broadcast from Oregon into California under the banner of “Jefferson Public Radio.”
“We have nothing in common with you people down south. Nothing,” said Randy Bashaw, manager of the Jefferson State Forest Products lumber mill in the Trinity County hamlet of Hayfork. “The sooner we’re done with all you people, the better.”
“I’m so mad I could … I could …” Webster said one recent day, bristling with rage as he held the remnants of the flagpole rope vandals snipped to make off with his banner. He drew in a breath, then relaxed.
“We have some suspects, and we will get to the bottom of this,” he said. “As for why they took the flag: Let’s just say some political statements aren’t popular.”
That would be the statement he makes whenever and wherever he can: That the top half of California and the lower half of Oregon should secede from what he sees as the arrogantly dismissive rest of their respective states.
Last time I visited my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Lewis & Clark territory, I was amused by the “Don’t Californicate Oregon” bumper stickers on pickups and Lexi and everything in between. (Many of these likely were driven by ex-Californians, but never mind that—in best Booker T. Washington fashion, these good folk were casting down their buckets where they were.) No doubt Californication is a sin both venereal and venial, but let us not similarly damn conjugation—in particular, the joining of far northern California with southern Oregon. That is a match made in . . . well, in Yreka, California, 1941.