Canada - U.S. merger

Should Canada and the United States merge? What once might have seemed like a crackpot idea is given a very serious look in Diane Francis' new book Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country.  Her premise is that Canada needs the United States' protection—and capital. And the United States needs Canada's untapped natural resources and strategic land mass. It's a perfect match according to Francis. Of course, this isn't a new idea. Had a few battles in the War of 1812 gone differently, the amalgamation of the two countries might have happened 200 years ago. And whenever Quebec threatens secession (as it did seriously in the 1980s and again in the 90s), there is talk about which of the other provinces might join the U.S. What's new is Francis careful weighing of the economic and political issues as they stand today. The Wall Street Journal found the idea interesting, and devoted two-thirds of a page to Francis' ideas. But the Journal had no map! So I created one (above.)

How the British see the states

Buzzfeed asked a bunch of British people to fill in a map of the states, and many did surprisingly well—better than the average American. Some of their state names were wrong, but better than the actual names. For example, one person filled in the Nebraska space with "Middleshire." Nice. And what elementary school kid wouldn't agree that a better name for Colorado is "Squaresies." My personal favorite was the person who (working from north to south) added North Dakota, South Dakota, and Further South Dakota (above). See all the maps here.

Denver Post fact-check

I take no pleasure in correcting the Denver Post, or their source Prof. Richard Collins, a constitutional law expert at the University of Colorado—but, well, they got it wrong yesterday. In the Post's article on state secession efforts in Colorado, writer Monte Whaley wrote, "The last time a state consented to the loss of territory was when Maine split from Massachusetts in 1820." That's not accurate. First, West Virginia split from Virginia in 1863. Thus the Virginia legislature did consent to the loss of territory. However, many would argue that the Virginia legislature that signed off wasn't the "real" legislature, it was a dummy group that was quickly formed by northern politicians when the "true" Virginia seceded from the United States.

So I can forgive Prof. Collins that oversight, but not the split of California in 1859. Southern "Californios" were so concerned about the massive influx of gold rush miners in the north, they pitched the idea of splitting California. And in 1859 the California legislature DID consent to split the state in two. The U.S. Congress did not act, but the state did, an important landmark that is often forgotten.

And if we want to get technical, there have been dozens of times that states have consented to give up small bits of territory. For example, in 1977 Texas gave away land to Mexico near the city of Rio Rico. So hopefully the Denver Post will issue a correction, and Prof Collins will pick up a copy of  Lost States ;)

by Michael Trinklein

Raise a Stink

Jake Grovum at Stateline talked with me last week... and wrote a nice piece focusing on the side of the 51st state issue that is all too often forgotten. That is, the goal in places like Colorado isn't really to get a new state, it's to get the government pay attention. From that perspective, the Colorado movement has been a big success. Read more here.

by Michael Trinklein

61 State map

The New Republic envisions all the statehood movements getting approved... and creates a map to reflect the new reality. While none of the statehood movements on their map stand much of a chance, it does help to visualize the red/blue divide even more precisely than the usual presidential election maps. While I appreciate writer Nate Cohn taking on this issue, he oddly neglects the one statehood movement that actually has a chance: Puerto Rico.  Read the article here.

by Michael Trinklein

Business Week weighs in

Claire Suddath from Business Week weighs in on the current flurry of statehood proposals. (She interviewed me for about a half-hour or so a few days ago). The story does a nice job of putting the issue in some historical context, and connecting these movements to the recent polarization in politics. You can read the full story here. 

by Michael Trinklein