Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Case for Two Floridas – Revisited

[Author's note: This blog was updated Jan 17th, 2015, after a Federal Court ruled Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, but regardless of Federal law, several Florida counties found a way to disobey the court and the law of the land.]
 A recent attempt to split Florida into two separate states drew scant serious coverage from the news media. Supporters of the proposal wanted to amplify the more modern, international influence of the southern half of the state, represented by a line drawn roughly from Tampa to Daytona Beach, or, the route of Interstate 4, as opposed to the “redneck” rural, northern part of the state.

The disproportionate amount of taxes paid by the southern counties supposedly spent needlessly in the northern half of the state, as the supporters want everyone to believe, is reason the proposal just won't go away. The proposal to split Florida floats up every couple of years for other reasons as well, but always fails to gain serious support. I think I know why it fails. The proponents of the split have the demarcation line in the wrong place. In fact, it even runs the wrong direction.

It should go north and south, down I-75 from the Florida-Georgia state line to Wildwood, jump over to U.S. 27 and follow Krome Avenue right down to Florida City. From there down U.S. 1 to Jewfish Creek would also be a boundary, but everything in the Keys would be in East Florida. Flamingo would be in West Florida, along with Monroe Station, Ochopee, Everglades City, and every other place where the deluded inhabitants consider Miamians as foreigners. I think anywhere waiters ask if you want sweet tea for lunch should be in its own state. Jacksonville? They'll just have to suck it up and learn to put in their own sugar in their iced tea. Either that or they will be traded to Georgia for a future draft pick.

The small enclave of counties in the extreme northeast part of the state, Clay, Baker, and Duval Counties, which includes the unfortunate city of Jacksonville, have all cancelled courthouse weddings as a way to protest a recent Federal judge's ruling that allows gay marriage. Perhaps we should consider moving those three Florida counties to Georgia, or just put the Georgia/Florida state boundaries back where they should be if Georgia hadn't lost its Supreme court case in 1854. That way the anomaly would be resolved as the other backwards counties that sidestepped the law of the land  - Calhoun, Liberty (which now needs to be renamed), Franklin, Wakulla, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa - are all in the western half of the state, including the odd county of Pasco, located just far enough north of Tampa to be disconnected from reality.

We could split the time zone if the new state line runs north and south. East Florida would be in the 21st century while the west half of Florida wouldn't have to worry about leaving the 19th century, where they obviously feel right at home. The two states would be as different as New Jersey is from Indiana. As a matter of fact, that pretty much follows the cultural split that already exists, so no big changes there.

We could rename the states, like Floridana, or Poinciana for East Florida, while the west half could be Gulforama or Teapartyland. The logo for west Florida could be a boomerang, as the west state silhouette would pretty much resemble the stick that just won't go away. Florida east? I don't know, maybe they could have a twitter or Facebook naming contest for the new, oddly shaped state. A slice of Key Lime pie, perhaps?

There will be pockets of residents who will find themselves out of place in either state, such as the Villages who will demand a new survey, but the north-south split fits better than the east-west split along I-4. Either way, while Tallahassee would remain the state capitol of West Florida, Disney World should be the new, undisputed Capitol of Florida East.