For better or worse, California goes its own way — and on the matter of the next president of the United States, this is particularly true. It's no overstatement to say that the majority of the Golden State is bitter over the election of Donald Trump. In fact, his ascension has revived calls for secession.
That's probably unrealistic, but the allure of independence is all too real.
The #CalExit movement, a.k.a. the Yes California Independence Campaign, hopes to have the voter signatures and contributor cash necessary to put on the 2018 ballot an initiative asking voters to approve independence for the Golden State in a 2019 special election. Even getting the requisite 365,880
signatures for an initiative is a challenge; similar attempts have failed in the past.
But say #CalExit does make the ballot — and that the special election is approved by voters, and that the majority of those voters casts their ballots to secede — that doesn't mean California gets to walk away from the union. The effort would then require a constitutional amendment approved by Congress and by 38 of 50 state Legislatures. Alternately, state leaders could call for a special convention during which two-thirds of state delegates would have to give secession a thumbs-up and 38 state houses would have to approve it. Yeah, probably not gonna happen. If you check your history books, a war was even waged over this kind of thing.
Stanford political science professor Bruce E. Cain says secession is unrealistic. But the spirit that drives it is formidable. “The reason it matters is it indicates an independence,” he says. “We're not going to wait for the federal government to do something we want to do.”
But it's still fun to imagine California as a nation.
Louis Marinelli, president of Yes California, says he sees the state's future relationship with America as an arrangement similar to that of Scotland and the United Kingdom. The Golden State has the world's sixth largest economy, as well as the nation's largest port (Los Angeles–Long Beach) and its most productive agricultural industry. It also has its own oil (and ports to get more), its own manufacturing, Silicon Valley, more billionaires than any other nation aside from the United States and China and, last but not least, the nation's most fruitful marijuana sector. Throw in a military, and we could feasibly go it alone.
“We have the wealth concentration, the expertise, the capacity to do things through the initiative process,” Cain says. “We're more likely than most states to be innovative and be on the cutting edge, regardless of what's going to happen in D.C.”