WASHINGTON, March 20, 2018: Since the election of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president, many a California leftist loon has talked of California secession. The “Yes California” campaign for independence says it wishes to depart our union of states, creating the state of New California, because
“The United States” (by which they mean President Trump) has “withdrawn California from important international accords” (the Paris Climate Accord) that makes it “difficult for us [to] fulfill our responsibilities as patrons of the planet.”
New California Space cadets seek exit from Trumplandia
Progressive-leaning Californians, you see, think themselves more extraterrestrial than American.
“The United States is a direct threat to millions of California residents due to its unfair and unreasonable immigration laws,” (by which they mean having any immigration laws at all).
It’s clear they believe the term “illegal alien” strictly applies to, you know, the spacefaring beings “out there,” with California serving as a kind of spaceport.
And in a surprise rhetorical flourish clearly out of character for these citizens of Ceti Alpha V, the Yes California people end their declaration of independence with a passive shout out to America’s dead, white, male Founders:
“We promise that we will protect our new nation with our honor, our wealth, and our lives if need be.”
That’s a Lincoln no-no
But as any high school civics student knows, President Abraham Lincoln settled the issue of state secession once and for all by winning the Civil War.
In his first inaugural of 1861, Lincoln asked:
“If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of a contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it – break it, so to speak – but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?”
Four years and 620,000 dead Americans later, the answer was a clear and definite, “No.”
California could follow West Virginia Secession
However, there is a form of secession that is quite permissible. And that is intrastate secession.
When Robert E. Lee’s Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, 24 of the state’s western pro-Union counties met in convention to secede from Virginia.
Two years later, the White House issued a proclamation:
“Whereas by the act of Congress approved the 31st day of December last, the State of West Virginia was declared to be one of the United States of America, and was admitted into the Union… be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby, in pursuance of the act of Congress aforesaid, declare and proclaim that said act shall take effect and be in force from and after sixty days from the date hereof.”
And this brings us back to California, where another secessionist movement is afoot.
A New California
They call themselves the “New California” movement, comprised of the Golden State’s politically conservative, rural counties.
Their “Declaration of Grievance” begins by citing Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration:
“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”
Among the 40 grievances listed by the group are that Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature:
“have created a tyranny for the Citizens of California by their illegal and unconstitutional creation of laws which they enacted that have caused an invasion of illegal foreign nationals.”
Unlike California’s confederacy of “sanctuary cities,” the Lincolnesque advocates for the state of New California insist they
“are determined to live under a State Government in the United States of America and under the Constitution of the United States.”
Is California too big to fail?
According to the World Economic Forum, California’s annual economic output is around $2.42 trillion, slightly surpassing France’s GDP.
If it were its own country, the Golden State would rank #6 among the world’s richest nations. And much of that wealth is derived from it’s rural, agricultural, and very conservative counties.
University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, in his paper “Splitsylvania: State Secession and What to Do About It,” gives New California boosters some food for thought.
If the intrastate secession movement were to succeed, with Republicans in Congress eager to assist, and if:
“The new [New California] legislature and officials were quickly recognized by President Trump, who, citing his authority under the Insurrection Act of Article IV section 4 of the United States Constitution, deemed them the official government of the state, and sent federal troops from the 101st Airborne Division to Fresno to ensure that what he called ‘leftovers’ of the ‘old, failed state government’ were unable to cause trouble’… A narrow coastal strip extending from Los Angeles County in the south to Sonoma County in the North would remain the state of California; the rest would become the new state of New California.”
An isolated moonbattery
That would effectively leave entertainment Hollywood, Silicon Valley high-tech, and wine country isolated from most of its agricultural money machine.
It would also saddle a much smaller Golden State, with its teaming population centers. A corrupt Democratic political machine, with a $255 billion debt and roughly $1 trillion in unfunded public pension liabilities, would be the albatross it keeps.
And who knows? It could bring an abrupt end to that state’s well-documented economic moonbattery.
But that might be engaging in a little New California dreaming.