Thursday, November 10, 2016


The election has come and gone, and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States (though he lost the popular vote). This is just. . .brutal, unthinkable, and horrifying, especially if you are not white. Trump is a singularly destructive figure, and like a lot of people, I am truly terrified about the future of the nation. So, its not surprising that there is some grumbling about CalExit - or the secession of California from the United States of America. While I am in no way suggesting that secession is the way to go, I have been thinking about the ramifications and problems of secession. Again, I am not in ANY WAY CONDONING SECESSION. AT ALL. But, it is fun to think about.

If California were to secede (and be joined possibly with Oregon and Washington?), there would be quite a few benefits. First is financial - California pays more in federal taxes than it gets back in federal spending. So, if California seceded, that tax money would stay here. Second, we would get a national government that is, necessarily, more responsive to California. In contrast, we are about to be governed by a President who received 33% of the vote. So. . .yeah.

But there are three major sticking points that would have to be addressed:

1) Water. California has a lot of natural resources, and with the advent of solar power, would probably generate enough energy for its own needs. Further, California is one of the breadbaskets of the United States, so growing our own food shouldn't be a problem IF WE HAVE WATER. And that's a problem, since California depends a lot on water coming from the Colorado River, a largely out-of-state resource. Oh, and we've had a major drought the past few years, so . . .that's a problem. No water, no food.

2) Trade. If California was to leave the Union, there is a good chance that it would not necessarily leave on good terms, and in retaliation, the US could impose trade sanctions against the new country. If that happens, California's economy, which would rely pretty heavily on exports to the United States, would be screwed. Now, that might be offset by exports to other countries, but since the US would still be the global hegemony that it is today, other countries may follow suit to avoid pissing off the US. Of course, they might not, since, presumably, they'd be pissed at Trump too. But trade would have to be addressed.

3) Military: California isn't just an economic powerhouse, it is also strategically important as it gives the United States access to the Pacific Ocean. As a result, the US houses a lot of troops in California, and especially in my hometown of San Diego. Would the US be able to keep and maintain those military bases? And, if so, would California want foreign troops stationed on its soil? One way or another, this would have to be addressed.

Of course, this all assumes that the US would let California secede. Now, there have been instances where a separation has been peaceful, but those occur when the region seeking separation has been an economic drag on its mother country. For instance, Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia, when Slovakia, which was poorer than the Czech portion of Czechoslovakia, announced its intention to secede. The Czechs, shocked at their good luck, immediately agreed, and everyone was happy. In contrast, the Kashmir region of India, which is economically and strategically important, tried to secede, and its been ugly ever since. California's secession from the US would be more like Kashmir, and less like Slovakia. In other words, it would probably get ugly.

So, as fun as it is to think about, CalExit would be have significant roadblocks.