Go Ahead, California Secessionists, Make Our Day

JaredWhitleySo there’s a classic moment of American cinema you all know where San Francisco cop “Dirty” Harry Callahan asks an armed criminal, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

See, while Harry has his gun trained on the miscreant, he’s got a gun of his own. The gun makes the punk feel powerful, and he doesn’t think he needs Harry to tell him what to do anymore.


This stand-off keeps coming back to me whenever I see an article about some Californians dream of seceding from the union – an idea I cannot support enough.

The aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election has shown us that we no longer have red states and blue states, but we have Trump Land (so, America) and a few pockets on the coasts – what some are calling the Clinton Archipelago. This frustration with the rest of the country has inspired some in the Golden State to advance a cause not legitimately heard since the 1860s: secession.

Californians rejected Trump so soundly, they don’t want anything to do with him or the people who elected him – because if you’re a state that elected a movie star as governor of course you’ll reject a nation that elected a reality star.

Contempt for “flyover states” is nothing new, but most blue states realize how much they need the rest of the country. Despite secessionist dreams in Vermont, people there realize … c’mon: we’re just Vermont. Blue Delaware may succeed as a tax haven (translation: conservative business environment), but the tiny First State couldn’t possibly stand on its own.

New York – home of more wealth and influence than perhaps anywhere on Earth – could probably form its own nation-state if it wanted to, but for a few problems: 1) the city is a blue outlier in an otherwise pretty red state, and 2) even the most stridently elitist New Yorker has to acknowledge that it needs the rest of the country for a) its food and b) its garbage.

Not so California. California is an enormous state with not just massive economic power centers but a huge population and a thriving, arguably self-sustainable agricultural base. California on its own has long been one of the largest economies in the world. If it wanted to form its own nation, it probably could.

See, Californians may be full of themselves because of their power, wealth, and influence – but those are intrinsic advantages more than any wonder of their own self-governance. California has a huge economy because it’s massive in both geography and population. Hollywood was based in Southern California because there’s perfect weather there year-round. Silicon Valley sprung from the Bay Area because of military spending. Coastal economies tend to be stronger because of shipping.

If any group of people inherited the advantages of California, it would be difficult for them to screw it up. Though, granted, the folks in Sacramento have been doing their very best to try.

California is catastrophically in debt. One estimate puts it at $400 billion in unfunded liabilities and debt from public pensions, retiree health care and bonds, but another puts the pension liability alone at $500 billion. It’s facing a catastrophic teacher shortage. There’s gang violence and a rising violent crime rate. Despite all the talk of “progress,” California does terrible on measures of government transparency and civic engagement.

A few years ago the leftist UK paper The Guardian even asked if California would become America’s first “failed state.” Were California to kick the grown-ups out of the room, that answer would quickly become yes. Sure, they could legalize every drug (while outlawing sugar), but that paradise would only last a few years.

California’s absence would be America’s windfall

Moreover, the political implications of California splitting away would be a godsend to the rest of the country. Investors Business Daily published this week that, were it not for California, Trump would have won the popular vote by almost 1.5 million (and his electoral victory would have swung even wider). But beyond that, were the California Congressional caucus to leave Washington, the Republican edge in the House of Representatives almost doubles.






With California





W/out California






Now the counterargument is, “Ah ha, but California has a lot of money! How would the US survive without its tax base?”  

Actually, I’m convinced that were California no longer part of these United States, we’d end up with more of their money.

While Katy Perry tells us, in her highly derivative “California Gurls,” that the grass is really greener in her wonderland of hedonism, it’s only figurative. Literally speaking, California is a desert that’s been sucking water from the rest of the western United States for decades. If California lost its political influence in Washington, the deal that keeps most of the Colorado River slaking its thirst would dry up – both literally and figuratively.

Should the Golden State become the Golden Nation, residents there would soon find themselves either very thirsty or very broke. Sorry, Southern California: you need our water more than we need your movies. (Oh, and the film industry isn’t even making movies in Hollywood anymore.)

Moreover, how would California defend itself? Were it to secede, would they inherit those military bases defending its golden coasts? The last time a state government tried to seize a federal military installation, it started the Civil War. Now, since blue states are terrible at providing servicemen and women to the Armed Forces, California probably wouldn’t be capable of that kind of insurrection – but it could throw money at the problem. Now, we all want to still stay friends, so I’m sure California could just contract with Washington for protection – and President Trump seems like the kind of negotiator who’d love to give them a great deal.

Should California secede, it would collapse in on its own bad governance while paying through the nose for services it currently enjoys just to survive. The lack of its political counterbalance would cede the rest of America to conservatives forever. The only downside I can see is we’d have to redo a bunch of flags with 49 stars instead of 50.

So please, California. Go ahead. Make our day.