Forgive the understatement, but Donald Trump’s election didn’t go so well in some quarters. We’ve seen inconsolable weeping, bitter protests, riots that appear to be professionally orchestrated, and a flood of Internet assassination threats. It is discouraging that a democratic election produced such a spiteful reaction.
Regrettably, California, where 62 percent voted for Hillary Clinton, could not escape the violence. The unhappy have blocked roads, scuffled with police and damaged property.
Some are expressing their differences in a somewhat more peaceful way, though. These Californians say they just want out. The thought of Trump in the White House is so distasteful to them that they’d rather secede from the union. They can’t tolerate sharing a nation and a flag with Trump voters, whom they regard as a “basket of deplorables.”
This is not a judiciously considered movement but a tantrum. Hoover Institution fellow and California farmer Victor Davis Hanson finds it a “transient rhetoric trope” that no one takes seriously, and a “rhetorical bookend to the mostly inane ongoing demonstrations against Trump before he has even entered office.”
Whether serious or not, the secessionists have convinced themselves that a vote for anyone other than Clinton was a vote for racism, sexism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, hate and ignorance. Yet Trump had enough support from Americans who voted for Barack Obama twice to win by 62 electoral votes.
For many, marking a ballot for Trump was not necessarily a vote for him but rather a vote against an entrenched, elitist political establishment. Voters were saying no to a progressively meddling government. It was a vote against Washington’s insider privilege that uses politics and political power to insulate and enrich the few within its confines. It was a reaction against a status quo that thinks it’s smarter and more informed than those outside its tight circle, and is always quick to remind people of this. Substitute “Sacramento” for “Washington” and the dynamic remains the same.
Seeking independence can be a noble cause. Twenty-five years ago, former Assemblyman Stan Statham first proposed breaking up California into 3, more manageable states. More recently, a movement of North State counties, tired of being ignored by Sacramento, has sought to form a new State of Jefferson.
But the sudden support for Calexit is a sulking response to the peaceful transition of political power that’s been the hallmark of this nation for more than two centuries.
As a separate nation, California would have the sixth largest economy in the world. But if it were truly its own country, that ranking would fall fast. Consider the thorny issues the infant nation would suddenly face. Start with the question of water in this already parched land. If California is no longer a member of the union, it would likely lose the water that flows from the Colorado River compact. Colorado would be happy to keep its water – or to reach an agreement in which it would dictate the terms.
The new country would also have to work out new trade deals with the rest of the United States and other foreign countries. In the meantime, what would happen to the goods and services that move in and out of the state every day? Do they sit on the sidelines while agreements are hammered out?
What about foreign policy? And the dozens of military bases across the state? Do they remain in U.S. hands or will the new People’s Republic of California claim what would be 32 modern-day Fort Sumters? This also brings up questions about California’s defense and aerospace industries, and their workers. Will they continue to produce for a “foreign nation”? How would military contractors incorporated in other states handle their business here?
California secessionists have support outside the state, but it’s not the sort they want. A few years ago a poll found that ours is the state most Americans want to be rid of if the country were to drop one or two. More than half – 53 percent – would like to see California gone. New York was a distant second at 25 percent.
It’s hard to say exactly how much Californians are responsible for those negative feelings. But it’s clear that many of us need to change our thinking. The Wall Street Journal calls California “the country’s political outlier” that’s “been in virtual lockstep with policies of the Obama White House.” Years of single-party rule that’s imposed the blue-state intrusive-government model has made California a difficult place to live for many, and created a hostile environment for business.
The result has been a legion of companies, entrepreneurs and productive workers leaving for better opportunities elsewhere. That’s the real California secession.