It appears the Calexit movement has come across a significant hurdle. The leader of Yes California, a separatist organization that was founded in 2015, announced on Monday that he is withdrawing his petition for a Calexit referendum and is making Russia his new home.
Louis Marinelli, who established a makeshift embassy in Moscow in December, confirmed that he will “not return to California in the foreseeable future” and will withdraw the ballot initiative petition. Marinelli said that a new petition can now be started without any ties to himself:
I have found in Russia a new happiness, a life without the albatross of frustration and resentment towards ones’ homeland, and a future detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life. Consequently, if the people of Russia would be so kind as to welcome me here on a permanent basis, I intend to make Russia my new home.
The separatist proponent had been organizing the state’s independence referendum from Yekaterinburg, where he has lived since September with his wife, Anastasia. Following his “frustrations” with the U.S. political system, Marinelli averred that he does “not wish to live under the American flag.”
Yes, California had attempted to place secession on the November 2018 ballot. If Californians voted yes then they would amend the state’s constitution by eliminating text that deems the Republic “inseparable” from the U.S. and declaring the U.S. Constitution as “the law of the land.” This would then be followed by a vote in March 2019 to make California a nation.
For the time being, this has been delayed by at least another year. Until then, they may have to deal with a movement to break up California into two different states – there have been initiatives to split it into six states.
The Calexit movement had gained significant momentum in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump. Soon after his upset victory, there was a campaign of “when they go right, we go left.” Marinelli, who supported Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the 2016 election, said The Golden State is more liberal and progressive than the rest of the country so it would only be fitting for the state to secede from the union.
Marcus Ruiz Evans, the group’s vice-president, stated that we would “be better off if we were our own nation.”
— Yes California (@YesCalifornia) November 10, 2016
The movement would have garnered considerable support, too.
According to a January 2017 Reuters/Ipsos Reid poll, thirty-three percent Californians supported a “peaceful withdrawal from the union,” up from twenty-two percent in 2014. With thirty-nine million residents and the sixth-largest economy in the world, California would be able to function as a nation.
What many found interesting about this initiative was the hypocrisy behind it.
For years, proponents of secession were labeled as racists and neo-confederates. When secession, nullification and states’ rights were floated around by conservatives and libertarians, Rachel Maddow called them “confederates in the attic” and Chris Matthews described the American tradition as “terms of Jim Crow.”
Today, one of the most liberal states in the country wants to secede. However, it isn’t being labeled as racist, bigoted, homophobic or Islamophobic. Salon stated that an independent California “isn’t that wacky of an idea” and The Huffington Post defended the initiative:
Californians are democratically disadvantaged in every part of the federal government.
Compare this with what these two liberal outlets penned about previous secession movements:
GOP’s post-racial fantasy: Secession, delusion and the truth about America’s most hateful dividers.
The Huffington Post opined:
Secession Movement: It Is Neither Cute Nor Funny.
It is acceptable for liberals to secede, but it is racist for conservatives to secede.
Politically, too, it has been rather interesting. For the past several months, there have been calls for “resistance” to the president at the state and local levels. Democrats, many of whom have promoted increased federal powers under former President Barack Obama and have scoffed at the very idea of states’ rights, are now calling upon states and cities to fight the president.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) wants to nullify a federal order with a state referendum:
We’re not a monarchy. We’re a representative democracy, so we have agency, we have a voice. We have the ability not just to navel gaze, but to act, to be engaged — to resist. We’ve got to dust ourselves off and step up, and not just roll over and act as if we don’t have a very potent role to play in our democracy, particularly at the city level … if he does try to build a wall, there is legislation in California to challenge the administration, by requiring the construction of the wall to be put to a vote of the people of California.
But wasn’t challenging the federal government a form of racism? What a difference a few years make.
Decentralization should be the ultimate objective of any society, regardless of political persuasion. When the federal government becomes too big, states have a right to leave. It isn’t racist, bigoted, homophobic, transphobic or Islamophobic to believe in the Tenth Amendment.