Calexit: Should California Leave the US?

The idea of California leaving the United States, or “Calexit,” is not a new idea. Yet it is after Donald Trump was elected president that Calexit started to enter the mainstream. Just last week, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla cleared a proposal to start collecting signatures. This means that if it collects 585,407 signatures in the next 180 days, the proposed measure will be on the ballot in 2019. Much like Britain’s recent vote to leave the European Union, the future of California would rest on a popular vote.

We here at the Foghorn recognize the desire to leave an America whose new administration feels so un-American. If any state were to successfully secede, or leave the United States, it would be California. We have the sixth largest economy in the world. We are the epicenter of the motion picture, music, television, and tech industries. We have an unparalleled level of geographic diversity. We have fostered some of the most important cultural and political revolutions in this nation’s history, from the Free Speech and counterculture movements to organic eating and recycling. Our population is one of the most diverse in the nation.


But these are the very reasons that California must stay in the union. All these aspects that make California remarkable also make America remarkable. California is a beacon of progressive values for many people. Even putting electoral count aside, no other state has the influence over national politics that California does. If California were to leave, so would the institutional power needed to contest the new president.


It’s not just the rest of the United States that would hurt if California became its own country. California would, too. We would lose federal programs like social security and the coveted privilege of a U.S. passport. Further, the amount of planning and funding for a military or a healthcare system would surely take longer than a four or even eight year presidential term. Who’s to say where our country will be then?


Fear is another factor into the sudden traction towards Calexit. With threats of cutting federal funding to sanctuary cities, it’s reasonable for Californians, especially undocumented ones, to be apprehensive of the future. But in a true showing of California values, mayors from California’s largest cities are condemning these funding threats. Our own Mayor Ed Lee said “We are a sanctuary city now, tomorrow, forever.” Let California stand in solidarity our undocumented residents, so we can encourage other states  to join in.  


Even further, our country has felt so much division already. Secession is not something to take lightly. To initiate the steps that led to the Civil War would be disastrous.


Trying times like these deserve grit and determination. Calexit would be a cop out; running away from a problem instead of meeting it head on. The Foghorn wants California, a bastion of rationality and morality, to be remembered as a state that defied injustice, not sowed further division.

Photo Courtesy of Nathan Guy/ Flickr


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