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Why Are So Many Counties Trying to Secede From Their States?

Secession movements appeal to conservatives and liberals alike
Boulder, Colo.
Boulder, Colo.Photograph by Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

Something strange is happening to state government. Fed up with what they see as liberal overreaching, small groups of rural, largely conservative activists have decided they’re done trying to effect political change through the usual channels of votes and bills and the seemingly endless churn of election cycles. They’re plotting something drastic: They’re going to shutdow—wait, sorry. Wrong legislative impasse. What I meant to say is: They’re going to form their own states.

“It’ll be North Colorado. Or maybe New Colorado,” says Jeffrey Hare, founder of the so-called 51st State Initiative and a resident of Weld County, currently in the northern part of regular Colorado. In November, residents of Weld and 10 other counties will vote to determine if residents are interested in seceding from the state. Hare says he knows he’s fighting an uphill battle and that forming a new state is much more complicated than just redrawing a few borders. New (or North) Colorado would have to come up with a school system, maintain its own roads, and collect taxes—the latter a tricky prospect for a state conceived by Tea Partiers. But Hare is so sick of “those people in Boulder,” as he calls them, that he’s willing to take a stab at it.