Yes California? #Calexit Returns


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    California originally introduced the proposition, the initiative, and the referendum during the Progressive Era because the state legislature was in the hands of Southern Pacific more or less. Also Hiram Johnson wanted to make sure that Democrats never won office again. I don’t think that worked out for him too well.

    But now I think they have outlived their purpose largely* and have been hijacked by cranks with an agenda and a very unclear understanding of Constitutional Law and demographics. Despite often being a punch line to other states for stupid reasons, I don’t think the U.S. is going to let California leave so easily. Especially because we contribute a huge chunk to the nation’s economy. The “State of Jefferson” cranks don’t realize that no matter how they cut it, California is pretty blue these days and they would find themselves in just another blue state and not a red one.

    Every year comes with obtusely written propositions that obfuscate more than they illuminate, are often conflicting, unconstitutional, and a waste of time and resources. It is a disgrace.

    Cue Michael Cain to come to a rousing defense of the proposition, referendum, and initiative.

    *The towering exception is marijuana legalization.Report

    • Every year comes with obtusely written propositions that obfuscate more than they illuminate, are often conflicting, unconstitutional, and a waste of time and resources.

      Just wanted to highlight that amazing sentence seperate from the debate at hand. I enjoyed it.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

      I’m pretty much with you on this. Draper really kind of bores me.

      Calexit? (yawn, stretch). I have an important videogame to attend to.

      I’m sort of ok with initiatives/referenda/whatever being part of the politics. But I’m not ok with them being able to amend the state constitution with a simple majority vote. And I’m particularly not impressed by measures that require a supermajority to make out the annual budget. That’s structural recipe for gridlock. Majorities get to make the budget, full stop.

      If you have a split government, then negotiate. But a supermajority requirement makes it impossible to carry out a negotiation in one room in real time. Ugh.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      The “State of Jefferson” cranks don’t realize that no matter how they cut it, California is pretty blue these days and they would find themselves in just another blue state and not a red one.

      Sure, blue is blue, but there are different shades of blue, and as Br. Cain likes to remind people, the concerns of urban blue and rural blue don’t always align perfectly.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        People who go for State of Jefferson normally vote R.

        There are shades of blue but those shades of blue still generally vote for Democratic priorities. The most conservative Democrat is still to the left of the most moderate or liberal Republican.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          Saul Degraw: The most conservative Democrat is still to the left of the most moderate or liberal Republican.

          This is probably true in the US Congress but not universally. It really depends on the fractal zoom and particular issue(s) in play. (and to the extent on some issues that one can actually categorize them as ‘left’ or ‘right’)Report

      • Avatar lyle says:

        Actually if you look at the counties involved in the North State of Jefferson you find they are all R counties, but have very small populations compared to the Bay Area and LA. These are the northern tier counties, and interestingly all the water projects here are federal (shasta dam, Central Valley Project etc.) Actually it might make sense to combine that part of Ca with Eastern Oregon which also has no use for folks west of the Cascades (again much smaller populations)Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    My biggest concern with this is: Please don’t try to characterize all of Silicon Valley with Tim Draper. Please? I’m asking nicely…Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      @doctor-jay I can personally promise I will not.

      (Just promise me in return that you won’t characterize Colorado Springs by Doug Bruce, or Seattle by either Tim Eyman OR Jeff Bezos …)Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        The good news (I think) is that I’ve never heard of Doug Bruce or Tim Eyman. (Aha, I just looked them up and I see what you did there). I have heard of Jeff Bezos, but then I lived in Seattle myself for 5 years, so I wouldn’t dream of it.

        Still, there’s a host of writers out there that love to do that sort of thing. I’m sure you’ve seen it.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          Oh yes. Especially soooo many “Doug Bruce is a real Coloradan pieces” (for or against him, Coloradans, etc.) before he went to jail. (I have a funny-because-it’s-telling Doug Bruce story, probably better suited for beers than online broadcast.)

          It’s actually a relief that you’ve never heard of those guys :D. Surprised you managed to live in Seattle without hearing of Eyman, but of course I sometimes fail to remember that Seattle existed before 1996 or so :P. I will have forgotten who Tim Draper is sometime in the next couple of weeks, I’m sure, and good riddance.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            I like the utility of Eyman much more than the person. He’s annoying as hell and I rarely agree with him, but he is pretty good at leveraging the initiative system such that he is an effective burr in a lot of overly comfortable political saddles.Report

            • Avatar Maribou says:

              @oscar-gordon That’s an interesting take, and it’s good to know he’s useful to… *someone* I know. Still I’d hate for anyone to think the generally kind and gracious and self-effacing (i mean, overall at least) population of Seattle is in some way represented by him.Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    The State of Jefferson.
    On the East Side.
    Where you can finally get a piece of the pie.
    Yes, it took a whole lotta tryin’
    Just to get up that hill.
    But now we’re up in the big leagues
    Gettin’ our turn at bat.Report

  4. Avatar Zac Black says:

    I also think it’d be wildly selfish of California to do so; if they did they’d be massively screwing the rest of the country in exchange for relatively little benefit, at least as far as I can tell.Report

    • Avatar InMD says:

      This is why it would never be allowed to happen, at least not the way proponents envision it. Even if it somehow happened the US wouldn’t just let California be a free rider on the domestic markets that make the rich parts of the state what they are.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    After the Civil War, succession became a dead letter. You can get into the Union but it will take really extraordinary circumstances to get out. Federalism and the Constitution also makes internal administrative reform really difficult. The state boundaries are what they are. In a weaker federal system like India or in a centralized state like France, you can adjust boundaries as you see fit. Not in the United States.Report

    • Avatar scott the mediocre says:

      @LeeEsq, something of a threadjack:

      I strongly disagree that India is de facto a “weaker federal system” than the USA. Regardless of the formal aspects, the multiple locally-dominant languages, especially in the south, e.g. Karnatka, make it much easier to have a solid regional power base (with a varying level of alignment with national-level coalitions, e.g. BJP vs Congress) independent of the federal level. But I suspect you are using “weaker federal system” in a somewhat idiosyncratic way: if you don’t mind, please elaborate on how you interpret “weaker”.

      I assume you do know that India had a quite major realignment of several state boundaries in 1956, adjusting from the historical boundaries of the Raj (largely frozen after 1858) to the best they could manage of boundaries based on semi-homogenous dominant linguistic communities*? That supports your “weaker federal system” argument if and only if one assumes that only in a weaker federal system would federal subjects go along with large scale boundary changes: I can easily imagine regionally-based politicians being perfectly happy to trade territory if the result winds up more conducive to ethnic federal polities.

      *It’s in frickin’ Wikipedia.Report

  6. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Random thoughts, treating the proposed split of the state as a serious idea. For convenience, call the three states North, South, and Central, reserving “California” to be the current state. A county-level map of the proposed states is here.

    1) Nothing in this for the State of Jefferson people. I’d have to run numbers, but it’s quite possible that North would be bluer and more dominated by its urban areas than California is today.

    2) Much of Central’s water supply is from inter-basin transfers across the new state borders. These would likely be subject going forward to presently unnegotiated interstate water compacts, subject to review by the US Supreme Court. The Colorado River compact would have to be renegotiated; if historical precedent is used, only South would be involved as they would be the only one of the three bordering the river. With a much smaller population, South’s share of the river would probably be smaller than it gets today. (Tangential: the Colorado River compact is probably headed back to court; Arizona has been accused of cheating again.)

    3) A good share of Central’s electricity supply is delivered over HVDC lines bringing power from outside of California. I’d have to check, but I believe the terminals for those lines would be in South, rather than Central, and would fall under regulation by whatever PUC structure South creates. That could be… problematic.

    4) Within US and state law, counties are generally not sovereign. I’ve never understood the state partition people’s fixation on preserving county boundaries. It seems to me that the small corners of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties where the vast majority of those counties’ populations are located would prefer to be part of Central than South. (See also #5.)

    5) I’ve always said that proponents of dividing a state — any state, I said the same thing about Colorado’s 51st State movement — should be required to outline the state budget for each of the new states before any voting can happen. The amendment sponsor’s motivation for partition schemes has always been described as cutting the rich bay area loose from the heavy subsidies that flow to the Central Valley region. Orange and San Diego Counties, and the urban parts of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, may not be willing to foot that bill by themselves.Report

    • Avatar scott the mediocre says:

      That proposed split (from the Sacramento Bee article) makes no sense to me. It looks like the intention is to split South from Central along county lines such that South could be Republican majority? Otherwise Orange County (and, as you noted, the dense parts of Riverside and San Berdoo) is far more coupled to LA county than to the rest of the state.

      The various proposed coastal versus inland splits at least make a certain amount of sense in terms of communities of economic interest.Report

  7. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    There are two flavors of proposal to split California. One is a rural/urban split. The other is a naked Gerrymander–and Draper’s proposals seem to fall into the latter category. This is an attempt to create a state that the GOP can win.

    That’s a tough sell. And it usually requires some uncomfortable cludging that draws state borders right through some pretty contiguous communities. Splitting off Orange County from LA is a great example, or including counties like Mendocino and Lake in the State of Jefferson proposals. This newest proposal puts Monterey county in the same State as Los Angeles but a different state than San Francisco–that’s a pretty awkward distinction.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Which state is the one that the GOP can win? CA is a blue firewall now for the most part. There was another proposal I saw a while ago and someone did the math and figured that the new state would be pretty blue even though the hopes were for State of Jefferson style conservatism.Report