The rise of secessionist movements

But values are beside the point for Roni Sylvester

For her the driver of secession is economic: "We see a lot of economic decisions being made by the populous that have a direct negative impact on those of us in the rural areas."

Weld County is rich in oil, and that means "fracking." Some want fracking banned because of potential environmental damage.

"If you have property," Sylvester said, "for example, with gas, oil and mineral rights on it, that you should have the right to allow that to be explored. And I know a lot of people are dependent on their royalties now, particularly our senior citizens. It's their security."

But the constitutional hurdles for breaking away were set high. First, a state's legislature must approve, and then the U.S. Congress must vote to accept, the new state.

Dave Young, a native Coloradan, represents part of Weld County in the Colorado House of Representatives, and opposes secession. Young doubts that secession would fly in the Colorado legislature.

"If we just build walls and refuse to talk to each other," Young told Petersen, "that's the dangerous piece. I think we lessen our power as a country. When we split off in different directions, are we really as powerful as we were before?"

"We pride ourselves in this country on a willingness to hear everybody out," Petersen said to Brinkley. "Is it kind of a good thing that these people are saying these things?"

Brinkley said, "I don't find the attention good, because you're leading people down a garden path to nowhere. It never ends. If you start indulging one secessionist movement, then you'll have to indulge another, and there would be no United States."

In northern California, they feel they no longer have a choice.

"We're so outnumbered, I don't know that politically there is another viable way," said secessionist Geri Byrne. "You know, I mean, this at least focuses the attention on the problems that exist. Is it something that's going to be easy to do? No. You know, is it something possible? Maybe. There's a lot of people behind this movement."


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