Can California Secede? Here's How That Could Happen
The unthinkable has happened. Somehow, a fired reality star and failed businessman with zero political experience who spouted racist, sexist, and outright false ideologies has been elected as the leader of the free world. As an American, I'm disgusted, ashamed, and worried for the future of this country. But as a Californian, I'm hopeful, because a lot of people in California want to secede from the United States — and frankly, to me, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea. But could it actually happen?
In California, Hillary Clinton received 61.4 percent of the vote in the election — the largest percentage in the country with the exception of Hawaii. So it's not a stretch to assume that the vast majority of Californians are upset about the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The hashtag #CalExit began trending on Twitter early Wednesday morning after the dust had settled from the previous night's shocking results, with a large number of Californians calling for their home state to leave the union. The website yescalifornia.org, which was already in existence prior to the election, is gaining new attention thanks to Trump ascending to the presidency. According to the site, they're gunning for a 2018 ballot initiative that would call for a special election in 2019 where citizens would vote for California's independence. In other words, a secession is actually possible.
And it's not just citizens on the fringe who are looking for California to become its own country — a number of prominent members of the tech industry have also come out in support of the idea post-election. Chief among them is Shervin Pishevar, cofounder of Hyperloop One and an early investor in Uber, AirBnb, and other rising tech companies. Pishevar tweeted on November 8 that he plans on funding a legitimate campaign for the secession of California. "It's the most patriotic thing I can do," he told CNBC. "The country is at serious crossroads ... We can re-enter the union after California becomes a nation. As the sixth largest economy in the world, the economic engine of the nation and provider of a large percentage of the federal budget, California carries a lot of weight." Other tech heavyweights, like Path founder Dave Morin and Design, Inc. founder Marc Hemeon, have already expressed their support for Pishevar's campaign, according to CNN Money.
So what kind of effect would California seceding have on the rest of the country? Presumably, a huge one. California really does rank as the world's sixth largest economy — higher than nations like France and India. California contributes more money to the federal government than any other state by far, and is what's referred to as a donor state. What that means is that the state contributes more money to the federal government than it gets back. So who gets California's tax dollars? Poorer states, many of which voted for Donald Trump. Without California's cash to bail them out, these states would be in serious financial trouble.
California is a world leader in the tech industry based around Silicon Valley, the entertainment industry of Hollywood, and the state is also an agricultural behemoth, producing a staggering amount of the food consumed in the U.S. According Mother Jones, California provides close to half of the country's fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The Golden State produces 99 percent of the country's almonds and walnuts, 98 percent of its pistachios, 97 percent of its plums, apricots, and kiwis, 96 percent of its olives... you get the idea. Without California, food prices in the rest of the U.S. would skyrocket. California is also the largest state by population, and the second-most ethnically-diverse.
With its innovative industries, robust economy, insane food production, and its sheer size and diversity, California could potentially make for a pretty great country; but its independence would likely cause the rest of the U.S. to suffer greatly. If President-elect Trump doesn't want to see that scenario happen, he'd better listen to the wants and needs of California voters.