Not since 1863 when West Virginia split from Confederate Virginia has a new state been formed out of an existing one. But a group of 11 rural counties in northern Colorado are vying to make history this November with a vote on whether or not they should split and form the 51st state.
Led by activists in Weld County as well as the 51st State Initiative, the Colorado secession movement has grown out of a vocal segment of the state’s population on the eastern prairie who feel they are underrepresented. Not only do they balk at legislation that reflect demographic changes in Denver or in the state’s mountain resorts, they see liberal ideas such as marijuana legalization and gun control as infringing on traditional, conservative small-town values.
While the state’s secession movement has gained momentum, it’s still quite a long shot from actually becoming a reality. It certainly won’t have the backing of Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who argued in forum hosted by The Atlantic and National Journal before the 2012 election that the divided nature of America’s government cannot persist. Governor Hickenlooper asserts that there are too many big issues that require bipartisan action.