By Doug Porter
At the Sunday night airport demonstration, I was approached by somebody who wanted me to sign a petition to get a proposed Calexit initiative on the 2018 ballot. I politely declined. I don’t sign initiative petitions without doing my homework.
So I did a little research.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla cleared the petition last week. Backers of Calexit need to gather 585,407 valid signatures from registered voters over the next 180 days to qualify for the ballot.What they’re asking people to sign on involves a two-step process.
According to the State Attorney General’s office, the 2018 measure seeks approval to repeal clauses in the California Constitution about the state being an “inseparable part of the United States” and that the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme law of the land.”
If approved, the measure would place the question of actual separation on the 2019 ballot. Fifty percent of registered voters would need to participate in that election, and a minimum of 55% would have to vote in favor of what amounts to a declaration of independence.
The Yes California Independence Committee
Ultimately, secession will require a federal constitutional amendment and approval by two-thirds of the states.
From the Los Angeles Times explainer:
A campaign committee, Yes California Independence Committee, has raised no funds so far, according to records from the secretary of state. But [group founder Marcus Ruiz] Evans says that his group has more than 7,000 volunteers (significantly down from a 13,000 estimate in December) ready to gather signatures and that voters can expect to see signature gatherers on the streets in the next couple of days.
Yes California says that even if the proposed initiative does land on the ballot and voters approve it, such an unprecedented move to secede would need to receive approval of at least a majority of the states in the union, among other legal hurdles.
Evans says he’s not fazed.
The basic argument for Calexit comes down to promising in vague terms that the state’s citizens would somehow be better off if California were not part of the United States. The Yes California Blue Book says it has all the answers to your questions.
I don’t think so.
The Real Winners?
You know who would benefit for sure if California broke off? Republicans.
Conor Friedersdorf made this assertion in a Los Angeles Times op-ed:
Imagine if President Trump announced that he wanted to oust California from the United States. If it weren’t for us, after all, Trump would have won the popular vote he so lusts after by 1.4 million. Blue America would lose its biggest source of electoral votes in all future elections. The Senate would have two fewer Democrats. The House of Representatives would lose 38 Democrats and just 14 Republicans. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, among the most liberal in the nation, would be changed irrevocably. And the U.S. as a whole would suddenly be a lot less ethnically diverse than it is today.
For those reasons, Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Republicans with White House ambitions, opponents of legalizing marijuana, advocates of criminalizing abortion and various white nationalist groups might all conclude –– for different reasons –– that they would benefit politically from a separation, even as liberals and progressives across America would correctly see it as a catastrophe.
A Global Question
Separatist movements are a world-wide phenomena. What follows is a very condensed answer as the question of ‘why’ this is happening.
(There are other factors, like environmental and social changes, but I’m trying to keep this essay short enough so people will read it.)
These movements are a reaction to the globalist economic vision born out of post-WWII alliances. Over the past four decades that vision has shifted towards the implementation of policies leading to increasing inequality. The concept of multifaceted economic progress has eroded as shifts in technology and trade have made (at least the notion of) inclusionary capitalism unnecessary.
The rich have gotten richer, and have deified the marketplace as the ultimate arbiter of society. In short, people are abandoning traditional allegiances out of economic necessity because they’re not getting a fair shake.
Authoritarian leaders and theocratic movements are taking advantage of this situation by exploiting ethnic, racial, and religious divisions. That’s why Donald Trump was elected. That’s why nationalist movements are appearing throughout Europe.
And that’s why fostering independence movements is in the interest of nation-states generally excluded from insider status in the global economy.
Over the last couple of years separatists from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, California, and Texas, along with representatives from Catalonia, Northern Ireland, Ukraine, Scotland, the Western Sahara and Kurdistan, have all gathered to discuss their ‘anti-globalist’ visions.
‘Fighters for Independence’
They met in Moscow to denounce US imperialism and elect Syria’s Bashar Asad and Iran’s Mahmud Ahmadinejad as honorary members. And, oh yeah, the Russians paid 3.5 million rubles towards this year’s conference, held in the Moscow Ritz Carlton.
Here’s a clip from Pravda, in case you doubt the Calexit/Russia connection:
An international conference dedicated to the right of nations to self-determination will take place in Moscow on 25 September and will host fighters for independence from the whole world, including Catalonia, Texas, Puerto-Rico, Ireland, and even the Western Sahara.
President of the Yes California! movement Louis J. Marinelli will also take part in the conference, which has been already named as a summit of separatists. He is sure that his organization will manage to carry out a referendum and attain California’s independence.
Marinelli hopes he’ll gain support of other countries at the conference. ‘We’ll need international recognition of our voting in the future. We count on the Russian authorities to support us within this issue, as the Crimea also separated from Ukraine due to a referendum. We want to exit from the US the same way,’ he said.
Now I’m not saying Calexit is a plot to take over California; the Russian geopolitical vision doesn’t embrace the acquisition of territories outside their tradition sphere of influence.
What I am saying is that the leadership in Russia recognizes the advantages of weakening their economic and political competitors and are not adverse to a little nudge here and there.
In late 2016, the Yes California campaign had opened an “embassy” (it has no legal standing) in Moscow, supposedly to educate Russians about California’s history, boost trade, and promote tourism.
It should be noted that campaign president Louis J Marinelli actually resides in Russia. Both he and Marcus Ruiz Evans, the instate representative of the group, are ‘former’ Republicans. Marinelli says he voted for Trump.
Don’t Waste Your Time
Let’s go back to Conor Friedersdorf for a moment of clarity here:
At a moment of great urgency, as a subset of those who govern us veer toward authoritarianism, Yes California Independence is sucking up attention on a gambit that is highly unlikely to succeed, and that existentially threatens Democrats if it does. The 2018 midterms could change the course of U.S. history. They will determine whether Trump will continue to govern without meaningful restraint from congressional Republicans — who’ve abandoned conservative principles to exploit his populism — or face a newly invigorated opposition party willing to investigate his conflicts of interest.
Every minute so-called activists spend working for Calexit (a long shot at best) is a minute they’re not spending working against Donald Trump.
The next time I get approached to sign a Calexit petition, I’m going to get louder about my objections.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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