Saturday, February 18, 2017

‘California is a nation, not a state’: A fringe movement wants a break from the U.S.

Bolstered by the election of President Trump, the group, Yes California, is collecting the 585,407 signatures necessary to place a secessionist question on the 2018 ballot. Its goal is to have California become its own country, separate and apart from the United States. The group is advertising at protests and hosting meetups throughout California. Its leaders say the organization has ballooned to 53 chapters, each of which has meetings like the one here to plot out strategy and recruit volunteers. “Basically, what we’re witnessing is the birth of a nation,” said Tim Vollmer, 57, an academic consultant from San Francisco. “We can lead what’s left of the free world.” Their recruiting pitch goes something like this: California — the most populous state, with nearly 40 million residents — subsidizes other states at a loss, is burdened by a national trade system, doesn’t get a fair say in presidential elections, is diverse and disagrees with much of the rest of the country on immigration, is far ahead of other states on environmental policy and, for the most part, is diametrically opposed to Trump’s positions. Therefore, the argument goes, conditions are perfect for the Golden State to secede. The group’s biggest effort is focused on collecting signatures for the initiative. It will ask voters if they want to repeal a section of the state constitution declaring that California is an “inseparable part of the United States of America” and hold a referendum on independence on March 5, 2019. The group started collecting signatures in late January and has six months to complete the task...more

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