Progressive California lawmakers have decided to create their own Green New Deal in order to combat both climate change and statewide problems like poverty. The best way to accomplish this, especially given the likelihood of Donald Trump’s re-election, would be to leave the Union behind and become our own independent Country. This is obviously a radical proposal with many obstacles to overcome but the benefits would be enormous, extending beyond the scope of the Green new deal. The first issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not secession is legal.
This may be shocking to some but yes, it is legal for a state to leave the Union. There are two ways California could secede: unilaterally or with the consent of the other States. Since secession is never mentioned in the constitution it falls under the tenth amendment which makes clear that any rights not explicitly given to the federal government, via the constitution, are retained by the states. That means California can leave the Union whenever she wants. That’s the radical unilateral option.
The only time secession has been dealt with legally by the federal government was in the 1869 SCOTUS case Texas v White. The court ruled there were two ways a State could leave the union: “through revolution or through consent of the States.” This means that the States could vote to allow California to leave, either through a simple majority vote or a super majority of the states. That part is unclear so Texas v White might have to be revisited if we were to take the non-unilateral route.
The more pressing question for many progressives is whether or not secession is somehow inherently immoral. Most Americans think of African slavery as soon as they hear the word secession. But this is a mistake. Yes, the South did secede in part to protect the institution of slavery which their society was built on, but this was only one of the reasons they exited the Union. Those reasons need not be explained here because there is a more important point that needs to be made. It is fallacious to assert that the partial immorality of one secession movement makes all forms of secession immoral, or somehow inherently racist. American slavery is a red herring in this debate.
Northern States considered seceding over the fugitive slave law which required them to violate their Consciences by aiding and abetting slave catchers. Canadian Law provides for secession of their member territories in the Clarity Act. India seceded from Great Britain along with all the other former European colonies. The Soviet bloc countries seceded from the Russian empire. Brexit is a secessionist movement from the EU, and continued devolution within Great Britain should follow along similar lines. Catalonian is attempting to secede from Spain. But most importantly the American Revolution was clearly a secession movement from Great Britain.
If secession is inherently immoral then freedom and decentralization all around the world is also immoral. The idea that secession is immoral comes from the NeoConservatives. It’s just Nationalist propaganda and makes absolutely no sense. It is based in romantic rhetoric like Lincoln’s “mystic chords of memory” that forces the various and disparate value systems of Americans to be “one nation under God.” The disallowal of secession is the life blood of the never ending culture war and may someday cause us to spill literal blood again.
Secession is a humane, progressive, and peaceful solution to political strife and the claim that secession is immoral is what is really immoral. The Civil War led to more American casualties than all other US foreign wars combined at over 700,000 (plus the tragic fallout from the Emancipation proclamation recounted in Jim Down’s groundbreaking Sick from Freedom, puts the total death count potentially over a million). Adjusting for population growth that would be like losing 10 million Americans today, imagine tomorrow the populations of Ohio or Georgia were just gone. That’s the kind of devastation we risk by not allowing for secession. Americans have been going down radically divergent political paths for a long time. We should be allowed to utilize our right to secede peacefully and avoid this potential catastrophe. A political philosophy that is anti-secession is necessarily pro war and anti-freedom. Those are not Californian values.
The morality of secession should be reason enough to convince Californians, but there are other benefits. Of all the states California in particular would benefit the most from leaving the Union. California is a Federal donor state. That means we pay more in Taxes to the Fed than we receive back in the form of compensation. Louis Marinelli, one of the Calexit authors, wrote in the Sacramento Bee “by keeping the tens (sometimes hundreds) of billions of dollars we lose each year supporting red states that hate California, we will reduce our debts, fund our liabilities, and provide every Californian with a debt-free college education and universal healthcare.” California’s Green New Deal would benefit in the exact same way, especially regarding the housing problem.
Most of the States are Pro Trump. Those same states are also anti Californian and would happily vote to see us leave. As long as we are in the Union we will be beholden to the interests of other States. Those States clearly do not share our values. The Federal government is an absolute financial disaster with a debt reaching nearly a trillion dollars. It will never be paid off and eventually the US economy will collapse under the weight of this ludicrous debt. In 2004 California voted by a wide margin (70% in favor) for Proposition 58 which requires the State government to have a balanced budget.
But this has yet to be accomplished. We’re living in fiscal hypocrisy by remaining in the Union and allowing them to drain our considerable financial resources in the process. California is the world’s Fifth largest economy and accounts for close to a 5th of US economic output. The federal government is a parasite upon us.
But there are other non-monetary benefits. Political realities like race, abortion, and LGBTQ issues can be dealt with as Californians. We would never have to worry about the political agenda of the Republican Party, SCOTUS, or any of the various other Nationalist constraints ever again. Sanctuary cities would be a non-issue because we would control our own borders not Donald Trump. Currently Marijuana is still illegal in America but it’s been legal here for over two decades. Californians constantly try to buck Federal tyranny anyway, why don’t we just make it official and free ourselves?
Ironically the staunchest opposition to secession will come from California Conservatives. I know this because I am a real Burkean Conservative, as opposed to a NeoConservative Nationalist, which means I prioritize community, living traditions, and organic culture above politics, power, and ideology. And when I bring up secession with my Conservative California friends they do not like the idea at all. The problem is they’ve become entrenched in the ideology of Republican American. They’ve bought into the propaganda of the NRA and think the Bill of Rights applies to them as individuals, but the first ten amendments don’t apply to individuals rather they apply to the Federal government. That means the second amendment actually restricts the Federal government’s ability to regulate what the state’s do with weapons, it does not protect the individual’s right to bear arms.
Conservatives believe that if we left the Union California would take away all our rights. What they’re forgetting is that if we left the US behind not only would we be leaving the GOP and the Constitution but the Democrats as well. Voltaire once wrote “If there were only one religion in England, there would be danger of tyranny; if there were two, they would cut each other’s throats; but there are thirty, and they live happily together in peace.” This is why US politics is so polarized, gridlocked, and potentially violent. We have two big parties that stand for almost nothing except opposition to the other one, constantly trying to slit each other’s throats for National political power. If we leave, Californians get to renegotiate our social contract with each other, sans the petty interests of these idiotic parties that don’t really represent their constituents.
And because California has so many cultural, linguistic, and ethnic groups we will have to negotiate a contract that does its best to provide freedom to everyone. This would be a great basis for our version of the Green New Deal. The conservatives are afraid that by leaving the Union we will be leaving our conservative values behind, but that’s simply not true. By leaving the Union we will be leaving a tyrannical federal government beholden to a Nationalist ideology that benefits no one.
Edmund Burke, the intellectual father of Conservatism, rightly and harshly criticized the French Revolution not because it changed things but because it violently destroyed a society along purely ideological lines. His thoughts on the American Revolution were very different. The secession of the colonies from Great Britain was natural and organic. The colonies left because they had outgrown Great Britain and like confident children were ready to embark on their own journey towards freedom. That is the exact same relationship that California has to the Federal Government. We’ve been ready to leave the incubator for a long time now but we’re understandably scared. Growing up is frightening and we will not get everything perfect. But it’s time for us to go out on our own. It’s time for us to be a free people. Seceding from America is the most American thing we could possibly do.