Boardman: Who’s behind the conspiracy to separate us from the rest of the U.S.?
February 5, 2017
Observations for the center stripe: Influence edition
THE RESIDENTS of Nevada City, who never tire of telling Grass Valley how to conduct its affairs, would like to see their sphere of influence expanded, not decreased … FACEBOOK CHIEF Mark Zuckerberg says it will be several years before Virtual Reality starts to pay-off, hardly encouraging to people considering investing in the technology around here … THE SAN Francisco 49ers won’t raise ticket prices for the next two years. Considering the team’s recent performance and its prospects for the future, the team should cut prices … THE RESTAURANT critic for the San Francisco Chronicle has apparently run out of places to review. He recently sampled Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa, and pronounced it outstanding … AFTER RIOTING that caused $100,000 in damage to the UC – Berkeley campus and nearby businesses, police arrested one person for failure to disperse. Really? …
There's a movement afoot to separate California from the rest of the United States, but you can make a strong case — as I will — that the effort isn't being promoted by the people you would expect.
The movement to make the Golden State an independent nation — generally known as Calexit — actually started about two years ago, but didn't gain traction until November, when Donald Trump shocked liberals and progressives by getting elected president of the United States.
Now an outfit called the Yes California Independence Campaign has been given permission by the secretary of state to try to collect 585,000 valid signatures by July 25 to qualify a secession measure for the 2018 ballot. The proposition would ask voters to strike lines from the state constitution that describe California as "an inseparable part of the United States" and that the U.S. Constitution is the "supreme law of the land."
If that passes, then a second vote would be held to declare California a "free, sovereign and independent country." Then the real heavy lifting would start: Both houses of Congress would have to pass a constitutional amendment by a two-thirds vote, and then at least 38 states would have to ratify it.
Most observers consider this effort mission impossible, but backers of the petition drive are more optimistic. "America already hates California, and America votes on emotion," a spokesman for Yes California said. "It's certainly as likely as Donald Trump becoming president."
"Californians are better educated, wealthier, more liberal, and value health care and education more than the rest of the country," said Marcus Evans, vice president of Yes California. "Our views on education, science, immigration, taxation and health care are different."
Many observers view the secession effort as a rebuke of Trump, and there's a lot of truth to that notion. Hillary Clinton beat Trump here by more votes than he received, and the state's leaders signaled defiance before he was even in office. There is a group of Californians, mostly Tesla progressives, who feel sullied by their political affiliation with Red America. Secession would boost their sense of personal virtue.
But if California actually succeeded in leaving the union, it would be a disaster for progressives and liberals in the rest of the country. For decades, California has exerted more influence on American politics and culture than vice versa. Secession would not improve our values, but it would practically ensure that the rest of the country would drift farther away from our tolerance and diversity.
California has been in the forefront of fighting climate change. Gov. Jerry Brown has threatened to launch our "own damn satellite" if the Trump administration cuts back on climate change research. If the U.S. minus California continues to do little or nothing to combat climate change, California—along with the rest of the world — will suffer.
Then there's the political clout that would disappear if the Golden State secedes. We currently contribute two reliably liberal senators and 38 representatives—along with just 14 Republicans — to Congress. California has more electoral votes than anybody else, and the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — the "Ninth Circus," according to conservatives — is a reliable thorn in the hide of our increasingly conservative federal judiciary.
All of this would be lost to the rest of the country if California secedes. In fact, conservatives, white supremacists, foes of legal marijuana and abortion, and others who share their general outlook on life would rejoice if California left the union. That's why the people behind Yes California require more scrutiny.
The organization is led by Louis Marinelli, who currently teaches English to Russians in Siberia. He is preparing to establish an "embassy of California" in Moscow with the help of a vehemently anti-American group supported by the Kremlin, the Anti-Globalist Movement of Russia.
Moscow maintains close contact with left wing and secessionist movements opposed to what they see as global American domination. This goes hand-in-glove with Russia's attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election. Need I mention the developing bromance between Trump and Vladimir Putin?
Evans, who is actually running the signature gathering process in California, was a registered Republican when he helped form the separatist group two years ago, and hosted conservative talk radio shows in Fresno. He won't say if he voted for Trump.
Certainly, Trump owes California nothing. I'm sure he resents the fact the Golden State cost him a popular victory in the general election, and life would be easier for his administration if the likes of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi disappeared from the political scene.
It appears to me that Calexit is being funded and supported by shadowy forces that are less interested in ridding California of its tormentors than makings the rest of the U.S. permanently red. That's why Breitbart News and Infowars haven't exposed this threat to the American Way of Life.
We must reject the siren call for political purity and retain our ability to at least annoy Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and others of their ilk until the political tides turn, as they inevitably will. Remaining a member of the union is the least Californians can do as loyal Americans.
George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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