California has a referendum process. Citizens can change state laws, and they just might collect enough signatures to put secession on the ballot. That raises a few questions. Would all of California leave the union, or could they leave county by county, or city by city? Said another way, would LA and San Francisco get to take red California with them?
It is doubtful that they can leave with all of California. Federal park lands, national forests, and areas controlled by the United States Bureau of Land Management never belonged to California in the first place. Federal lands cover some 45.8 percent of the California landmass. Don’t forget the vast areas of tide lands and the oceans that lie just off the California coast. They are currently claimed as federal property. The California watermelons loved it when Democrat politicians took more and more of California and put it out of reach for development. Now, much of California is out of reach for secession.
What could Californian’s take with them if they left? Those federal lands also cover most of California’s watershed. The water to drink and the water for agriculture is imported from the United States. In some cases, it is taken all the way from the Colorado river. Don’t worry. Socialist California has all the water it needs once it desalinates the pacific ocean. That takes energy.
The tech giants of silicon valley also have a thirst for energy. California imports over a third of its electricity. The large majority of those imports come from states in the southwest United States.
It isn’t only the thirst for water that could be cut back by secession. Kern County, California lies directly north of Los Angeles. Kern County accounts for 70 percent of California’s oil and gas production. Kern county voted for Trump by 53 percent to 40 percent. Where would California get its oil?
Then there are the political factors of leaving the US. The average federal debt per US resident is some 62 thousand dollars. Would Californians pay their share of the federal debt before the state was allowed to leave the union? Social Security and Medicaid are pay-as-you-go programs. Would citizens revoke their claim as they revoked their US citizenship? Some Californians could remain US citizens. I guess they could pay US taxes just as US citizens do if they work abroad. Would Californians pay back their US student loans, if they moved “overseas?” They certainly could face arrest at the border if they stopped paying their loans and wanted to visit Reno or Las Vegas.
Who-owes-what isn’t a small issue. More Californian’s receive welfare, and they receive larger average payments, than the US average. You could say that California is the welfare capital of the US. California has a state debt of some 11 thousand dollars per resident. Would any bonding agency underwrite those debts, or the municipal debts of California cities, in an independent California? I doubt it.
Let’s ignore the debt issue for a moment and look at how the issue would be decided. As Clinton supporters showed us in the last political convention, votes are subject to interpretation. We already know the referendum would not be decided by a majority vote of verified US citizens living in California. I wonder how many super-delegates the secessionists would get before the first vote was counted? I’d expect voter fraud in the election just as we saw in the last presidential election.
When you look at the fine details, there isn’t much of California that actually voted Democrat. California Democrats predominantly live in a few densely populated socialist islands along the coast. (Graphic taken from “The Clinton Archipelago”.)
It is true that a few California politicians are eager to spend other people’s money as they leave the union. There won’t be much for the California politicians to spend. Sure, they will denounce President Trump in order to get their 15 seconds of screen time. That is little more than political theater designed to distract Californians from California’s budget problems. California politics has been determined, and will be determined by one thing. California is controlled by the political donations from California state employees. They will determine California’s political decisions. Their dislike of Trump could outweigh their fiscal sanity.
The departure of California would have wide ranging political implications across the United States. Democrats would become a regional minority party across the US. They would hold office in a few large cities. The House and Senate majorities held by the Republicans would eliminate any chance of a filibuster, or even much of a debate. Without California, it would take several generations for a Democrat politician to ever again achieve a majority vote for president.
I’m for secession, but I don’t think it will happen. I want to see how the Socialist experiment in California works on its own. I want the rest of the United States to learn from California’s failure.
photo credit: Modified from Abdullah Bin Sahl EXIT via photopin (license)