The talk in California about secession is heating up again but it is an exercise in futility. In order to secede, Congress would have to vote on an amendment to the US Constitution, since a precedent created as a result of the Civil War says states cannot secede from the union. Both Houses of Congress would have to approve the amendment by a 2/3 vote, then would have to be ratified by 34 states.
Reaching two thirds in either house of Congress would be impossible. Even if several red states voted for secession they would not get the votes needed because the blue states of New York, Massachusetts and Illinois would oppose such a move vigorously. Why? Do the math.
Currently in the Senate, Republicans are the majority, counting caucusing members by 52-48. After California’s secession that majority would be 52-46, meaning that Democrats would have to recruit seven GOP members to kill a proposed bill by the Republicans. Now, they need only three. There’s no downside because no Republican would ever be elected to the Senate from California.
It is even worse in the House where Republicans have a sizable 240-194 lead or a 46-seat gap. But currently, California has 53 reps in the house, 39 Democrats and 14 Republicans. Eliminate them and Republicans would have a 226-155 lead. That means Democrats would need to take 36 seats to win back the majority.
The California Freedom Coalition, the campaign that has taken the lead in the effort to break California off from the United States, sees similarities with Catalonia’s secessionist movement. But there’s an important caveat: they believe California has more legal tools at its disposal, creating an easier path to secession – if that’s what Californians decide they want.
“There are definitely similarities in the fiscal situation – we both give more than we get back,” said Dave Marin, director of research and policy for the California Freedom Coalition. “But there’s more flexibility in the U.S. Constitution for secession than there is in the Spanish one. California has more tools available to it.”
Catalonia has approached secession in the best way it could, Marin said. If secession is what Californians want, he says their path to independence will be easier thanks to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says any powers not explicitly given to the federal government are retained by the states. The states cannot unilaterally declare independence, but Marin argues that the Constitution provides the federal government and the states a sanctioned path toward that negotiation.
The California Freedom Coalition is collecting signatures to get its ballot initiative in front of voters in 2018. It does not definitively say California will declare independence from the United States; it would repeal a provision in the state constitution that says California is “an inseparable part of the United States.” It also directs the governor to negotiate for greater autonomy from the federal government and establishes an advisory commission on California autonomy and independence.
But that’s not the only problem California would have. One out of every five Californians are covered by Medicaid — that would no longer be available. Currently California pays only five percent of the cost. After secession, they would have to pay the other 95% as well. Illegals across the nation would flock en masse to the Golden State where they would demand huge free government benefits and would not have to worry about deportation no matter what crimes they may have committed.
California would lose all eight military bases, all defense contractors (all military contracts must go to American companies), Social Security payments could be stopped and corporations now headquartered in California might not want to become a foreign operation subject to tariffs. The list is endless.
But, personally, I would vote in favor of them leaving the union in a heartbeat.
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