The group Yes California was nothing but a fringe group of secessionists dreaming of breaking the Golden State away from the other 49 states to form their own nation for a couple of years.
That changed the morning of Nov. 9, 2016.
The November presidential election gave Yes California credibility. The group’s organizers said their website was stretched to its limits Nov. 9 when 11,000 emails started pouring in from people scared to death at the reality of Donald Trump in the White House.
This tsunami of support isn’t just a bunch of old SDS and Weatherman radicals looking for a new port in their storm of old age. Some of the top guns in Silicon Valley were suddenly tweeting about breaking away from the USA.
And it wasn’t just California.
Two people in Oregon have submitted a ballot proposal to break their state away from the rest of the USA, too.
Yes California, jumping on the populist bandwagon that rolled through Britain, has dubbed its campaign the #Calexit Independence Referendum.
The organization’s leaders claim on their website the effort is about more than the election of Donald Trump, even though they point out that Hillary Clinton won California by a landslide.
#Calexit, it turns out, is less about Trump than it is about, shall we say…the Basket of Deplorables.
“It is about the American people who elected him. If they could do such a thing, then the United States is not our country and Trump is not our president. We will vote to secede from the Union,” said a message on the home page of yescalifornia.org.
Yes California wants to put a referendum on the 2018 California ballot to give voters a choice of “continued statehood” or “nationhood.”
Trump might be the spark that ignited a wave of support for the #Calexit referendum, but its backers also explain that this is about all of the people outside of California who “don’t share the same worldview, have a different culture, a different set of priorities and different plans for the future.”
“We in California could get so much more done if we could free ourselves from the shackles of statehood,” the #Calexit leaders conclude.
Silicon Valley has jumped on the #Calexit bandwagon. The scale of their outrage and the audacity of their response to Trump’s victory might have been a shock, but the news that the tech center doesn’t like the president-elect was not a surprise.
More than 100 of the biggest names in Silicon Valley signed a post on Medium in July to express their fear of a Trump presidency: “We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year, and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation.”
Shervin Pishevar kicked out the stone that unleashed an avalanche of Silicon Valley support for California’s secession when the early Uber investor told CNN in an email that he “would fund a legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation.”
Marc Hemeon, the founder of Design Inc., tweeted, “Let me know what I can do to help.”
Great minds must think alike. Dave Morin, a founder of Path, a private social networking tool, tweeted, “I was literally just going to tweet this. I’m in and will partner with you on it.”
And then there is Oregon, where Jennifer Rollins, a lawyer, and writer Christian Trejbal have started the Oregon Secession Act petition drive, also hoping for a place on the 2018 ballot.
And like the #Calexit referendum organizers, Rollins and Trejbal said this is about more than just Donald Trump. It’s really about all of the Trumpians and everyone else in the U.S. who just doesn’t get it.
“Oregonian values are no longer the values held by the rest of the United States,” Trejbal told the Oregonian. “Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equality.”
However, unlike their colleagues in secession at #Calexit, Trejbal said he and Rollins are looking beyond the borders of Oregon.
They want California, Washington and Nevada to join Oregon in the creation of a new nation, which some like-minded secessionists have said could be named “Cascadia.”
Too bad for them there isn’t a chance of this happening. At least that is the opinion of Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Roosevelt explained no matter what happens with the 2018 referendum votes in California, Oregon, or wherever the exit fever strikes, secessionists would also have to work on adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He said there simply is no legal framework in place now for a state to break away from the rest of the nation.
“There is no way this will happen,” Roosevelt told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m not surprised people are talking about it. If the election had gone differently, it would be Texas trying to do this. But it’s not realistic.”