P. Claire Dodson
January 28, 2017 11:38 am
Olga Rosi/Getty Images

The 1860s we are not, and yet there’s talk of a state seceding from the Union: California. This time it’s for an obviously different reason, but the circumstances, as New York’s Daily Intelligencer notes, are strikingly similar. Just as South Carolina was spurred on to secede after the election of Abraham Lincoln, people in California are campaigning to split from the United States post-Donald Trump’s election.

A campaign called Yes California is using 7,000 volunteers to try to reach the 585,407 signatures that would enable a state constitutional amendment separating California from the U.S. to make it onto the 2018 ballot. From there, it’s a difficult path to actual secession that would involve two-thirds votes in Congress and three-fourths of the states to ratify it.

Though it sounds crazy, California is probably the state best equipped to form its own republic. It’s big and has a a GDP similar to countries like France — it produced $2.44 trillion in economic output in 2015 compared to France’s $2.42 trillion. Culturally, it’s more focused on progressive causes like the environment, immigration, and legal marijuana than other states as a whole. And the state itself ranks 46th in dependence on the federal government already.

Trump’s recent crackdown on immigration could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for California voters. One of his executive orders involves withholding money from sanctuary cities, of which California has many. State Senate Democrats have already expressed that they’d be down to go to court against the White House over this issue.

All that said, it’s probably unlikely a Calexit would actually happen — though people also thought that about Brexit.

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