February 1, 2017

Letting California secede

In an article about the disloyal opposition of both the media and the Democrats, Michael Goodwin opines briefly on the idea of California secede (leaving the union). If you're a conservative, don't tell me you've never considered this one yourself;
If California secedes and its 55 electoral votes come off the board, Dems will never win another American election. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton could become president of the breakaway state and the rest of us would be free of the Clinton stain.

Secession is one way the swamp could drain itself. Sally Yates’ way is another.
Well - I hadn't considered the first paragraph's latter sentence, it does have it's appeal. Nevertheless, to do so would be to abandon the state's conservatives as few and far between as they may be, to a fate worse than no border wall.  Otherwise the electoral math bears out.  California currently holds a massive 55 electoral college votes and is no longer contested by Republican candidates at many levels. President Trump won 306 of 538 electoral college votes.  Hillary Clinton won 232, 55 from California.  Without California, president Trump would have beaten Hillary Clinton 306 to 177 of 438 electoral college votes (an electoral college margin of 69.8% to 30.2%).  And he would  have won the popular vote as well - rather than losing by 2.8 million votes (a 2.2% margin), he would have won by 1.4 million votes (a 1.2% vote victory).

It's stark how much the nearly bankrupt state matters to elections - that's a remarkable difference in the results should California not be part of it.  As a conservative it would be tempting on so many levels to just let California sink into an ocean of debt and fail miserably.  Make no mistake, with current policies it is inevitable that California will fail. It's an inviting thought to imagine California going it's own way, failing, and then realizing in dramatic fashion how progressive liberalism has destroyed the newly created nation.

But then there's reality.  At 30+ plus residents, when California leaves, does it take with it its share of federal tax revenue? What about the national debt? Does it take it's fair share of that too? And Medicare and Medicaid?  And what is it's fair share?  Is it based on California's percentage of the population  (~12%), or it it's share of GDP (~13%), or it's share of the national geography (4.3%)?  These things matter.  The national debt is approximately $20 trillion, 13% of California's debt obligation would be $3 trillion but 4.3% would mean less than $1 trillion.  What would California be willing to take on, given it's relative insolvency?

And what about other considerations - military contracts based in California?  Military bases?  Families now split geographically by nation?  How might interstate commerce change as it becomes the purview of international trade deals? And think of the flag.  49 stars?  America would have to grant Puerto Rico statehood and then be on the hook to bail out that new state (granted at a much lower cost).

Here in Canada we've had this debate many times every time Quebec threatens to leave the country.  It never gets too serious because no one ever thinks its going to happen, even though it has come pretty close.  The logistics of a separation of state from state are nightmarish in a peaceful departure, but the last time a few states decided to leave and form a Confederacy in the United States, you know what happened.

As appealing as a California exit might be on the surface, it's just not a good idea for the country.  And for Republican-leaning conservatives in California and indeed across America, maybe you are better served by using this opportunity to try to split California into two states (North and South, East and West?) in order to grant Republicans a chance in congress, the Senate, the presidential elections and the state legislatures, a chance at actually having a voice and some wins. In the end really, it's about America anyway - not economics, not the impossible intricacies of a split.  This is not BREXIT. Unlike the EU, America still matters and California is part of that.  That's more important to remember than any other consideration.
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