Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Professor Üsküp

Reader 2

Professor Shields

Rights Information

© 2019 McKenzie L Deutsch


In the context of California’s progressive political culture and growing economic inequality, a grassroots secessionist movement in rural northern California called the State of Jefferson movement arose in 2013. While the movement resembles other populist uprisings, its grievances are particular to its geographic, historical, and political context. Many tend to generalize populist campaigns as sinister or illiberal; however, this thesis finds that the State of Jefferson movement contains elements of populism as well as classical liberalism and republicanism. Through qualitative research, this thesis argues that movements of this sort are both inevitable in liberal democracy and also serve a legitimate purpose in strengthening democracy by calling for reform and good government. Growing political polarization, especially with the rise of Trump, and rural-urban cleavages in the United States beg for movements like the State of Jefferson to receive inquiry.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.