A group seeking California secession from the United States filed paperwork with the state attorney general on Monday to begin the process of putting their goal on the ballot in 2018. The group Yes California had been waiting for a later election, but they decided to expedite the process due to the election of Donald Trump.
Yes California does not have any significant financial backing, but the organization says it has over 13,000 volunteers ready to gather signatures. According to the California Secretary of State’s office, 585,407 signatures are required to get it on the ballot.
According to the language of the initiative, it would be a two-part process. The first part, in 2018, would strike the words, “The State of California is an inseparable part of the United States of America, and the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land” from the California Constitution. It would also schedule an independence referendum for 2019. If the referendum was held, and if at least 55 percent vote “yes” in addition to there being at least a 50 percent voter turnout, the measure would succeed.
Yes California head Marcus Ruiz Evans tells The Los Angeles Times that his group wants to secede because of “California taxpayers paying more money to the federal government than the state receives in spending, that Californians are culturally different from the rest of the country, and that national media and organizations routinely criticize Californians for being out of step with the rest of the U.S.”
A look at Yes California’s manifesto reveals that they want to make the newly independent nation into a social democracy along the lines of Western Europe.
California is the not the only state with an independence movement. Texas, Vermont, and Hawaii also have active and vocal secessionist movements. For diverse reasons that span the ideological spectrum, activists in those states believe that the national government in Washington D.C. no longer reflects their values or interests.
Secession has been a settled issue since the end of the Civil War 151 years ago, and it has generally been understood that states did not have the right to leave the union. While the current U.S. Constitution does not address the issue, the Articles of Confederation, which preceded the Constitution, explicitly declared that the union of the states was a “perpetual union.”
The last time the issue of secession was debated, over 600,000 Americans, or 2 percent of the country’s population were killed in the resulting war. To put it in perspective, that would be the equivalent of over 6 million Americans dying today.
One of the biggest flaws of the U.S. Constitution is that it does not include an exit mechanism for states to leave the union. Without the credible threat of states leaving the union, the federal government has been able to make the 10th Amendment guarantees of state sovereignty virtually meaningless. As a result, the federal government has become more centralized and more powerful. Much of our country’s current political dysfunction comes from Washington D.C. trying to design “one size, fits all” policies for 320 million people.
As an alternative to secession, we can reduce the size and scope of our central government. Wouldn’t it be better to have decisions about healthcare, education, highways, law enforcement, and resource extraction made by those most affected by them on the state and local level instead of federal bureaucrats? Do you think you’re most influential with your city councilman, county supervisor, and state representative or with your Congressman?
These secession petitions are a cry for help that need to be heard. People believe they have lost their right to live as they please thanks to a large, intrusive federal government. Either way, the federal government’s power should be curtailed.