There has been a lot of absurdity from the left following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and one of the more absurd ideas that has surfaced is the notion that California should secede from the union.
The #Calexit movement–which oddly enough, is being led by a New York Republican who was in Moscow on election night–is calling for a referendum to be voted on in 2019 for California to secede.
"It is about California taking its place in the world, standing as an equal among nations. We believe in two fundamental truths: (1) California exerts a positive influence on the rest of the world, and (2) California could do more good as an independent country than it is able to do as a just a U.S. state," the Yes California website states. "In 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the international community with their 'Brexit' vote. Our 'Calexit' referendum is about California joining the international community. You have a big decision to make."
Here are five reasons why California won't be seceding anytime soon.
1. There is no constitutional right to secede. There is a pervading myth among fringe libertarians that the Constitution allows for secession. While the Constitution is silent on the matter, there is evidence to indicate that the founders viewed such an action as antithetical to the Constitution, according to Jarrett Stepman at Human Events: (emphasis bolded)
Madison said in Federalist no. 43, that “The express authority of the people alone could give validity to the Constitution. To have required the unanimous ratification of the thirteen States, would have subjected the essential interests of the whole to the caprice or corruption of a single member. It would have marked a want of foresight in the convention, which our own experience would have rendered inexcusable.”
Like a man living in the state of nature who surrenders a part of his individual sovereignty to the state in exchange for the guaranteed protection of his natural rights—life, liberty and property—the states gave up a part of their sovereignty to enter the union. A state can no more secede from the union than an individual can secede from a state because of a law he doesn’t like or find “constitutional.”
George Washington, who served as president of the Constitutional Convention, blasted the idea of state sovereignty in a letter announcing the new Constitution to Congress: “It is obviously impracticable in the federal government of these states to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all.”
In order for a state to secede, there is only one process that is constitutionally viable...
2. A constitutional amendment would be necessary. To pass an amendment, two-thirds of Congress would have to approve of it as well as 38 states, or there could be a Convention of States. It seems unlikely that California's secession would pass such arduous hurdles, unless this sentiment becomes prevalent in the country:
Y'all Democrats know that under the #Calexit scenario, Republicans win by an even larger margin for a long time, right?— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) November 13, 2016
3. Previous attempts at secession have been stymied. For instance, Texas flirted with the notion of seceding after President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012, and that went nowhere. The Supreme Court has also ruled that "that when the states accepted the the Constitution, they also waived their right to leave the Union," according to CNN columnist Danny Cevallos.
There's also the obvious fact that a Civil War was fought over secession.
"The reality is that if California really wanted to, it could probably just leave the United States," writes Cevallos. "It would be an unconstitutional, illegal act. But what could Washington actually do about it? Post another announcement on the White House webpage saying it doesn't approve? No president would send in the military, would he?"
Would Californians really risk that possibility?
4. If California were to secede, it would be taking an enormous risk with regard to natural disasters. Julienne Davis points out in Heat Street that there are a number of natural disasters that could afflict California, including a massive earthquake and a tsunami that could take out nuclear facilities in places like Avila Beach and San Onofre. If California were to secede, they wouldn't receive any federal assistance if these natural disasters occur. It seems unlikely that Californians would take such a risk.
5. California would also face the prospect of collapse if they secede. According to Davis:
But what happens when the money runs out? California is already strapped for cash. Even if California will no longer subsidize other states, will they really have that much money to care for so many? While it’s true California is rich in agriculture, what they are very poor in the last number of years, and will be for the foreseeable future, is water.
Right now they take from the Colorado river and other states as well like Oregon and they don’t have the the additional necessary desalinization plants built to deal with the demand even without the influx of the millions they dream of taking in.
Then you have the issue of all those government pensions. If they’ve seceded, what will California do when those pensions hit the wall? “Sorry…. You’ll just have to keep working till you drop. We can’t go back to Washington now to get more money.”
There are simply too many hurdles and risks involved with California seceding. #Calexit won't be happening anytime soon, if at all.
This article has been modified to correct the location of the nuclear facility in Avila Beach.