Do #CalExit Supporters Realize Many Californians Have Been Trying to Escape Them?

A secession movement thinks (incorrectly) the state is just one big progressive playground.


Eugene Garcia/EPA/Newscom

Under normal circumstances it would be inadvisable to treat the bursts of outrage by those whose candidate has lost the election too seriously (even if the winner is Donald Trump). But the last few years of culture have brought us to a phase where every source of outrage gets its own news cycle. And that has led us to people blocking highways in order to object to the results of a long-established electoral process in order to get attention for themselves.

Combine the increased news coverage of people being upset about things and the propensity for news stories based on a handful of people's tweets and voila!—let's talk about something being hashtagged #CalExit.

There's a movement for California to secede from the union, and supporters are hoping to get a referendum before the voters in 2019, in a movement vaguely called Yes California Independence. It's actually been around for years—the website has blog posts going back to 2015. A previous attempt to get an initiative on the ballot failed.

But post-election, there were a bunch of tweets from people saying they thought California should secede from the union, and so #CalExit became a thing to cover.

Here's the thing about this particular secession movement—it is utterly oblivious to the ideological diversity within the state, thanks to the wholesale Democratic domination of the government due to population density in urban coastal communities. California is "blue" because electoral votes are an all-or-nothing thing. In reality, Donald Trump got about 3 million of the 9 million votes cast for president in California. Those votes for Trump don't matter, though. Hillary Clinton won the state. She gets the electoral votes. Yet, the material for the secession movement then complains:

California's electoral votes haven't affected a presidential election since 1876. On top of that, presidential election results are often known before our votes are even counted. So, why should we keep subjecting ourselves to presidents we play no role in electing, to 382 representatives and 98 senators we can't vote for, and all the government officials and federal judges appointed by those very same people we don't elect.

Hilariously, this argument ignores that people who live in the red part of California have the exact same complaints about state government. And, in fact, there have been secession movements within California by people who are trying like hell to extricate themselves from a one-party state government they feel doesn't represent them. They're not looking to secede from the union. They're looking to secede from California.

There's also some absurd ignorance about the economics of the state. The proponents contend that the reason California has so much debt and such high taxes is because the federal government takes all its revenue, ignoring that the state's actual economic crisis is because of the unfunded pensions and health costs of state and municipal government and school workers. In separate categories it's calling for increased health care and education spending based on all the money it's going to save by not sending it to Washington, D.C.

The secession proponents note that the government maintains a "burdensome" trade system that hurts the economy (true!) and then in the very same paragraph opposes participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership because it conflicts with "our values." (nope!) It's obliviously unaware of the migration of business and trade out of California because of how expensive and difficult it is to do business there. It would be interesting if there was any awareness in how the state itself is contributing to this problem, but no.

Instead, we have a movement of people complaining that they're being bullied by the federal government being completely oblivious to the fact that there's a good chunk of California citizens who feel bullied by the very kind of people who want to run this newly formed "country."

But not everybody in a California secessionist movement is so blinded. There was a movement in northern California to create the state of Jefferson, pulling a small chunk of the state away because rural citizens felt like regulators and the state government did not care about their economic needs. Sound familiar? Trump actually "won" several of those counties, but their populations are so small it didn't matter.

There's really no chance that California as a whole would secede from the union. Breaking up the state into more manageable sections that better represent the citizens? That could be doable, but this statewide secession effort makes it clear they also want control over the state's natural resources, which coincidentally tend to be buried and found in the same areas where people resent not just federal government control, but the state as well.

Below, ReasonTV looks at the Jefferson State secession movement: