Ca-leave-fornia: Why CA may vote to calexit the USA

Californians have been granted permission by their Secretary of State to collect signatures for a ballot initiative allowing Californians to vote to secede from the USA.  Should 585,407 signatures be obtained in the next 180 days, the initiative will officially appear on the ballot of the 2018 midterm elections.  And if the referendum passes, it will trigger a special election in March of 2019 to officially alter the Constitution of California and remove language stating California is an "inseparable part of the United States" and the US Constitution is the "supreme law of the land."  In short, California is voting to leave the United States.  Here are some of the arguments in favor of #Calexit:

1) Unfair Tax Burden -

California contributes a disproportionate amount of taxes to the Federal Government.  In 2012, California paid $292,563,574,000 in taxes to the US Government and received $59bn less than that in federal spending.  California effectively lost $59bn to the US Government that year. The state budget of 2012 was $91bn, making $59bn a massive percentage of that. Other states, oftentimes 'red' conservative states, receive more money than they pay in - up to a 2-1 ratio - and are highly dependent on the government while producing relatively little in terms of GDP. As Independent California points out, California is an economic powerhouse with a gigantic GDP and not dependent upon federal funds. Thus, California is contributing the most and subsidizing low-output states.  Californians do not have adequate representation for the taxation they contribute.  Furthermore, the values of CA are not reflected in the White House or national policy, our voices are not heard.

2) Irreparable Differences of value

The United States is a deeply polarized nation in terms of politics and social values.  Progressive, forward-thinking innovation has clashed with regressive, backward-looking nostalgia.  The separation of church and state is disintegrating as 'religious freedom' laws sweep the nation and codify discrimination.  Far-right "pro-life" groups are marching on Washington DC to demand constitutional rights be revoked from vulnerable Americans.  Healthcare, especially for women, is under siege.  The LGBT community faces legalized discrimination on the basis of so-called religious freedom.  California overwhelmingly rejects these actions. 

California is socially liberal, but the majority of elected officials from the state and local level to the White House are far-right social conservatives, with the President exhibiting signs of proto-authoritarian far-right nationalism.  Fundamental, bedrock values of Californian society such as progressive taxation, gender equality, social/domestic spending, renewable energy, and universal healthcare are not accepted or represented in the American government.  California is a socially-inclusive place. Furthermore, members of Congress are indebted to their corporate donors consisting of billionaires and other wealthy special interests.  The stranglehold of billionaire kleptocrats, supported by far-right Christian conservatives, has terminated efforts to implement laws that would benefit the middle and working class. 

3)  Poor and unjust Representation

California has the least powerful voters in the nation.  Quite simply, if you live in California your vote matters less than someone who lives in a swing state or rural state.  This is true for the Presidential elections and especially for congressional elections.  The electoral college is an antiquated system and defunct.  There are only 2 senators for the state's huge population, meaning 40 million people have the same amount of representation as states with much smaller populations.  Millions of California voters are shut out of the political process simply on account of their geographical location.

Despite going into debt to finance dependent states, California's values are not represented by the American government.  Their grip on the legislation of the country is compounded by voter suppression and the disembowelment of the Voting Rights Act.  Voter ID laws have been passed alongside tax cuts for the extremely wealthy which cause budget shortfalls and force DMV closures in order to solve a problem that doesn't exist (voter fraud).  The POTUS is continuing to spread the completely baseless/delusional lie that 3 million illegal immigrants voted in an effort to further strict Voter ID laws which disproportionately affect minorities.  Gerrymandering has created a rigged system in which Republican officials have chosen their voters, rather than vice-versa.  With the richest cabinet in the history of the USA wielding extraordinary power, kleptocrats have taken control of the government and are passing laws which only benefit themselves.  Average people in CA cannot have their voices expressed by government.

4) Infrastructure and Energy Development

Huge investments in infrastructure for transportation and energy is a key California value which is being repressed by the Federal Government.  Openly hostile to infrastructure spending, the congress of the United States refuses to make critical investments which would benefit CA massively.  Green Energy and Clean Technology are extremely popular values and actively stamped out by a government controlled by kleptocrats who are completely beholden to fossil fuel companies.  Despite climate change and potentially enormous profits in Green Energy, federal policy stifles industries that Californians desperately demand.  These industries could create thousands of well-paid jobs and careers and would benefit the masses in a number of ways, but again, these policies are eliminated by a government consisting of billionaires and kleptocrats who are protecting their own interests.

5) 5th largest economy

California has one of the largest economies in the world and is home to titans of many industries.  Apple, Facebook, Google, there are too many too list in the IT sector alone.  California's agricultural industry is gigantic, producing cheese and nuts and fruits and vegetables for the nation.  The Green Energy industry is nascent yet already productive, and appears to hold immense potential. 

Marijuana was recently legalized and the tax income should be enormous, if Colorado is any model.  That money can be invested into schools, infrastructure, and healthcare.  The legal and medicinal marijuana industry could employ thousands and contribute tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue to the state.  The American Goverment is openly hostile to marijuana users and Jeff Sessions intends to initiate a crackdown on states which have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans support cannabis and want to see it legalized. 

Innovation and forward-thinking will be rewarded. Young, talented, open-minded millenials and Americans of all creeds will flock to California.  The best and the brightest are already sorting themselves ideologically to places such as CA, CO, and NY.  The trend will continue and the human capital will allow California to flourish.  The wealthiest of all people will pay their fare share of taxes, money which will be used on social spending which will benefit the common citizen.

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It must be mentioned: this is an absolute long-shot and extremely improbable for a myriad of reasons.  The Federal Government would almost certainly be hostile to the idea as they would lose hundreds of billions of dollars contributed by California. It is incredibly complicated.  There isn't exactly great historical precedent for secession and not every single Californian holds the same beliefs, values, or ideology.  There are many more reasons why this couldn't or wouldn't be a tenable idea.  

The truth is, however, the process has been approved, signatures are already being collected, and it's highly likely it will appear on the 2018 ballot.  A recent survey shows 1/3 of Californians support the secession movement, and nearly two years of campaigning and Donald Trump may accelerate the movement.  18 months is an eternity in terms of politics, and it's impossible to predict the future.  Could tyrannical leadership in Washington, coupled with irreparable differences in values and beliefs, and ignited by unfair representation, trigger a vote to secede from the USA?  Only time will tell.

-Adam Mantine

 

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