Following President Donald Trump’s election, many Americans were looking for a restart button, or at the very least, an escape key. After desires to move to Canada had all but died, one state remained resilient in its efforts to distance itself from United States. The term “Calexit” pervaded Twitter with a hashtag expressing support for California to separate from the Union and become its own country.
And while many who were unsatisfied with the election results, especially those living in a blue state like California, may see this as an opportunity to break free from the turmoil of American politics, Calexit will only add to our nation’s political problems.
The official Calexit campaign is primarily sponsored by the Yes California independence organization, which has begun the long process of attempted succession. The first step is to put an initiative on the 2018 ballot for California voters to then vote in 2019 whether or not to secede from the Union. To get that first initiative set, the organization must collect 585,407 valid signatures from registered voters by July 2017. According to Politifact, the popular vote to secede would then require a two-thirds vote in congress and support from 38 state legislatures.
“As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland,” Yes California claims on its website. “Point by point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states.”
The campaign is flawed in a variety of ways, particularly its appeal to liberal values and neglect to mention economic and political ramifications for secession.
“In our view, the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values, and our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children,” the organization states on its website.
The organization claims California’s economic problems can all be traced back to the federal government. Yes California asserts that “California exerts a positive influence on the rest of the world, and California could do more good as an independent country than it is able to do as just a U.S. state.”
Even if all the claims Yes California makes about the advantages Calexit would produce for the state itself were true, there is a larger issue at hand. LA Times contributor Conor Friedersdorf described the nation of California as one that values ideological purity. Calexit and Yes California appeal to liberal ideals but ignore the devastating reality Calexit secession would have for Democrats.
With the largest population of any state, California also has the most electoral votes, which have been definitively blue since 1992, and the most seats in the House of Representatives, 38 of which belong to Democrats. Furthermore, California, as a blue state, progressively leads the country on issues such as climate change and immigration.
To secede from the Union is to give up on the American Experiment. It is to say that multiple ideologies cannot live harmoniously through compromise and conversation. Calexit emphasizes ideological purity over actual ideology. It proposes a state of progressives living progressive lives, isolated from the world in a utopia of liberal agenda. In reality, Calexit would eliminate hope of a more progressive United States where liberals can play an integral role in United States politics and fulfill their role as watchdogs during this season of Republican majority in Congress.