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Calexit: A solution for angry young voters?

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

A new movement called “Yes California Independence” is pushing to get a secession measure on the Golden State’s 2018 ballots. The movement has deployed about 7,000 volunteers to collect the roughly 600,000 signatures necessary to get the measure on ballots. Current trends suggest that petitioners will hit that threshold in advance of the July 25th deadline.

Voters would not be able to vote directly for secession in 2018; however, if the ballot measure passes, a separate referendum would be held in 2019. There is a long road ahead before California gets to leave the union, but the election of President Trump and a Republican-majority Congress has increased the odds of secession: CNBC reports that one–in-three Californians now support secession, compared to only one-in-five in 2014.

Californian independence – sometimes called “Calexit” – would remove a large segment of the country’s millennial population. California has the sixth lowest median age of any state (including D.C.). The median age of Californians is 35.4 years, compared to a nationwide median age of 37.3. A nation without California is a nation where the Millennial vote is less powerful – meaning that policymakers would be disincentivized to act in millennials’ best interests.

California has the highest concentration of wealthy Millennials of any station in the Union. Fortune looked at the 12 metro areas with the highest percentage of Millennials earning over $350,000 a year; 5 of them are in California.

Secessionists feel that they are paying too much to the federal government and not receiving enough in return. That is the kind of thinking that creates conservatives and libertarians throughout the country – but on the West Coast, it creates secessionists.

The Yes California Independence website reads in part:

“our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children… California’s infrastructure is falling apart, our public schools are ranked among the worst in the entire country, we have the highest number of homeless persons living without shelter and other basic necessities, poverty rates remain high, income inequality continues to expand, and we must often borrow money from the future to provide services for today.”

An independent California would have the world’s 6th largest GDP. However, it would also have to negotiate its own trade deals, set up its own government system (and those don’t come cheap), and figure out how to support an education system without federal dollars.

Other modern-day secession attempts have been discussed prior to 2017, but Yes California Independence has been fueled by left-of-center outrage at President Trump. It is the most formal, intentional, and serious of any recent secession movements.

If California were to leave, it would take its 55 electoral votes with it. This would drastically hurt any future Democrat’s presidential campaign. President Trump has three options should the ballot measure pass: He could bid “good riddance” to the big blue state, he could fight to keep the state and its tax dollars, or he might just adapt those border wall plans to fit our nation’s new shape.


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