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The Jefferson Reality


Anyone paying attention to politics lately has noticed that small changes barely seem worth the trouble anymore. Congress can’t be bothered to make laws. The Supreme Court is pushing cases back to the states the way an infant refuses his creamed carrots. American voters have forgotten that lofty goals are usually accomplished with tiny steps.

We'd be smart to have our state ready for the moment when America falls in love again with its third president.

Untempered by realism, we’ve been hearing a lot about abolishing the IRS, providing free college, building unscalable walls. Breaking through a glass ceiling seems quaintly mundane when the sky’s the limit.

Essayists and talking heads are breaking a hard — and sometimes cold — sweat, trying to outdo the rhetoric. Bombastic and fanciful proposals used to be our exclusive province. No more. Now there’s nothing to keep an ambitious politician from grabbing any juicy proposal — no matter how immodest — then adding a captivating coda: “and I’ll do it!”

“So help me” always conveyed a threat. Now it sounds like a campaign slogan.

That’s why I’m announcing here my candidacy for governor of the state of Jefferson. I never dreamed I’d pursue elected office, so pursuing elected office others have only dreamt of seems appropriate.

Jefferson, as a mythical state, is grounded in the conviction that there exists between Sacramento and Salem a place that is different from both. Statehood for Jefferson may not appear imminent, but only because there’s a corner to turn first.

Broadway is abuzz with the hip-hop life of Alexander Hamilton. How many New York producers are clamoring right now for a way to bring Thomas Jefferson to the bright lights? Hamilton’s 16 Tony nominations kept his face on the ten dollar bill. We’d be smart to have our state ready for the moment when America falls in love again with its third president.

Skeptics have rightly cautioned aspiring Jeffersonians that statehood is expensive. The rolling hills and lovely forests south of the 45th parallel offer many benefits, but not many lucrative ones. But that was before marijuana was coaxed out of the economic shadows.

If California joins Oregon, Washington, and Alaska this fall, as many expect it will, the Pacific edge of America will become one vast recreational marijuana market. Jeffersonians stand to benefit from this surprising development twice. It could bring in enough money to make Jefferson a viable state. And if it doesn’t, its customers may not care.

You may think that statehood for Jefferson is nothing more than a dream. But not if you consider the plans underway for New Columbia. In November, local lawmakers are hoping 600,000 Washington, DC voters will approve a constitution for its proposed state of New Columbia. A simple majority in Congress could then grant fast-track approval, using a mechanism called the Tennessee Plan.

Why now, you’re asking? (I can hear you asking.) Because big changes soon will be coming to Washington, DC, or New Columbia, or wherever our national government ends up being located.

Democrats envision landslide victories if the Republicans fail to unify behind their presidential candidate. It’s too soon to know how an unconventional presidential candidate will change the fortunes for candidates down the ticket, but all agree that anything could happen.

If Democrats win back control of both houses of Congress, they could quickly lock in their electoral advantage by giving statehood and two senators to overwhelmingly Democratic Washington DC. (Obama won 90.9 percent of the vote there in 2012.)

If we’re going to redo the flag and order furniture for new Senators, Democrats have long wished they could divide California’s liberal voting bloc into thirds.

Even a President Trump might be interested in adding to the Union for the first time since 1959. He knows real estate deals better than he knows government. He especially likes waterfront properties. He probably already has a price in mind to buy Baja California from Mexico.

The west coast then would be defined by five cities tucked into the top left corner of their respective states: Portland and Seattle to the north, Los Angeles and San Francisco to the south, and Eugene in the middle.

Eugene reflexively questions authority. It’s qualified to lead Jefferson because it wouldn’t dare to. So help me.

Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at www.dksez.com.