Calexit Part Two: Policy Implications for the California Republic and American Nationdev_hi Print
In part one we reviewed the brief yet rich history of the Calexit movement and the many personalities of varying political affiliation which have gotten behind the movement. Now, in looking at the various policies which an independent California Republic could pursue we need look no further than some of the groups which exist to seek Californian independence, many discussed in the aforementioned piece, and which cover a wide range of the political spectrum.
“As California becomes an increasingly distinct and complex entity, Californians have grown unable to rely on the United States federal government to effectively secure our well-being. We suffer hardships while our revenue is used to fund projects throughout the United States and push for its interests—military, economic, and geopolitical—around the world. The constitutionally defined structure of the federal government ensures that in terms of both electoral and representative power, our voices in California are effectively silenced. We must turn our attention from power struggles nearly 3,000 miles away to developing solutions that work for us. No one will look out for the interests and security of California unless we do so for ourselves.”
While the Yes California and its leader Louis Marinelli, who heads the libertarian pseudo-conservative movement which takes aesthetic inspiration from the Scottish National Party, had the following to say:
“For Marinelli, who is originally from Buffalo, New York, but calls California home, the commonalities between Brexit and Calexit, are clear: Both the United Kingdom and California feel disenfranchised by professional politicians in distant capitals (Brussels and Washington D.C.), strangled by over-regulation on trade and don’t feel they get enough value for their tax dollars.”
With such a wide range of political beliefs we should take to the opinion polls of Californians on various political issues. For example we can take this survey on the Medi-cal program, which offers low cost health insurance coverage to anyone in California who desires it. This program is widely seen as a stepping stone to making California the first state in the nation with universal healthcare coverage. Some 92% of Californians view the program as important, including 91% of White Californians and 80% of Republicans in California. Such universal approval for a very state-centric program clearly demonstrates that the Californian electorate is likely hobbled by the widespread Federal government support for the private insurance based programs which currently dominate the US medical care market.
Even absent total independence for California, pushing for such different policy approaches could reinforce the federal nature of the United States and open up more policy variation between states. While in places such as South Carolina or North Dakota the idea of single-payer (government) healthcare remains unpopular, there is widespread support in states such as Michigan, Maine, Washington, and even Florida and Iowa. It is clear that Americans, like Californians, have a divergent set of political desires which are currently not served by the Federal government.
A perhaps surprising policy difference between California and much of the rest of the nation, as mentioned in the piece on Idaho, is that Californians continue to reject implementation of affirmative action, while other, even deeply red states such as Texas, not to mention the Federal government, continue to promote and push for race-based work and educational admissions policy. Californians remain so much against the concept of affirmative action that in 2020 the state’s electorate voted in a ballot initiative against repealing the ban on affirmative action by 56% to 44%. This is an even greater margin than in 1996 when the Californian electorate voted to ban affirmative action through an amendment to the state’s constitution with 54.55% of the vote.
Policy variation such as this demonstrates that the Californian electorate, while vastly favouring things such as state funded housing initiatives and universal healthcare, also dislikes the racialization of politics which characterizes the American political culture in the modern era. The Establishment is having an increasingly difficult time relating to a nation-sized state which is more than 3,000 miles from Washington, and this alone may serve as justification for the relatively large number of Californians willing to discuss potential independence, roughly 47% according to a Reuters poll conducted in 2017.
On the other side of the political spectrum from the social democratic policies which dominate the desire of California’s population, there is also the increased unhappiness with how heavily regulate the state economy has become. Roughly half of California’s population is against the state’s decision to ban gas-powered automobiles by 2035. Californians seem to desire a balance, and in a state which has nearly three times as much regulatory legislation as the average state, an independent California could bring about a much needed change.
This could occur through an independent California having a radically different electoral system than the mainland United States. There have been other articles on the subject of electoral change in the state to make it more representative, such as this piece, by a respectable constitutional and law center based in the state, suggesting that California create a parliamentary system of government which would entail proportional representative being introduced. California Democrats, highly ideological and far removed from their voterbase, could be replaced by a party favouring state ownership and action, but which seeks to lower regulatory burdens on the many hundreds of thousands of private concerns in the state. Many parties of this nature exist, most notably in the Nordic countries, Scotland, and in certain Canadian provinces such as British Columbia.
Likewise, and to the benefit of the rest of the United States, California would no longer be the default national-regulator when it comes to environmental standards. Currently, California is the only state which enjoys a waver to set its own emissions standards. All other states must follow EPA, and therefore Federal, dictates on the matter, but largely only in theory. As California has the power to set its own standards, and because the state has the largest population in the nation by far, businesses often set their manufacturing and market standards to match those implemented by California, thereby increasing production and customer costs in meeting these much higher standards.
With California no longer a member of the union, the remaining 49 states of the United States, through increased political influence in Congress and a generally more conservative electorate, could push the Federal government into a less regulatory stance. At the very least Californian regulatory standards would no longer be the concern of businesses based in the two now separate nations.
Exploring this political shift in more detail, the remaining states in the US would no longer contend with a state of 40 million people (more than 61% of whom are non-White) block-voting for the Democratic party. California has since 1992 voted for Democrat candidates, and the 54 electoral college votes allocated to California currently would be redistributed to other much more red states such as Ohio, Texas, Florida and South Carolina. The political shift, likely causing a red wave at the Federal level, might see large-scale devolution to the remaining states could spur a further national discussion about secessionism, slowly splitting the United States up into a rump of more politically unified nation-states and groups of states.
In the third and final part we will explore the legal and political opportunities and barriers surrounding Californian sovereignty.
Poll Three Part Two: Is National Divorce a Solution?
Poll Three Part One: American Democracy in Crisis
Follow Up to Our Second Poll
Most White Republicans at Least Slightly Agree with the Great Replacement Theory
“Wokeness” is Now Almost as Dangerous as “Racism” for Politicians and Businesses
Calexit Part One: A Movement from the Past?
Red vs. Blue Patriotism
Greater Idaho: A Vision for a Red Super-State
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