California Exit

It's big enough and rich enough to be its own country. Should it be?

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Politics

What to say about California? During the Gold Rush, it was “California or bust.” Later Horace Greeley upped the ante: “Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.” Greeley thought that the nation’s capital only offered high rents, lousy food, and bad morals. And wasn’t California the best of the West?

Some people now think differently of the Left Coast. They relish the thought of an earthquake splitting the Golden State from the mainland. I even know a fellow who tells his friends back in Grand Rapids that everything they read about California is sanitized.

But there are at least three sides to every story, especially the California story. In my campaign to become governor of this state, I’ve found myself debating a fellow named Louis Marinelli. He’s a leader in the Free California movement. Brexit is so yesterday, isn’t it? It’s time for Calexit!

What’s the reasoning for this venture? One reason is that we Californians pay more money to the federal government than we get back. Another is that California is big enough to be its own country, so let’s get on with it. A third reason is that Californians enjoy a different and multidimensional culture that sets us off from the United States. Nationhood is our due.

And there’s a last reason: An independent California would have its own foreign policy. We could bring our vision to the world! Marinelli is leading the way in this enterprise. He’s lived in Russia off and on, and he’s now in Moscow. He sees himself as California’s de facto ambassador.

So what should I say about California and Calexit? I begin on a positive note. The principle of subsidiarity tells us that we should begin at the beginning. Start with the family and move to the neighborhood. Then comes a series of political groupings. We move up the political ladder until we reach the topmost agency of the people. But this transition makes sense only if it serves the common good. Would an independent California reflect subsidiarity more than the status quo? Maybe. So why not talk about Calexit?

But good dialogue is honest dialogue. So in talking about Calexit, we need to talk about its internal dynamic. Up front, it’s about economics. If it stops there, it confuses whether we’re “better off” with whether we’re better people. We’re drilled in the refrain “It’s the economy, stupid”! We need to counter with “It’s the humanity, politicos”!

There’s also a nationalist boosterism in play. We’re really big; there are so many of us. We must be great. Great enough to be a nation! Nationalism gives status to its adherents. But nationalism is exclusionary. The common good is not. Even small nations can go wrong. Costa Rica, yes;  Switzerland, no.

And what of California’s distinctive culture? It is, in truth, poisoned by an internal culture of death. We won’t close the book on capital punishment. Our Lawrence Livermore Laboratory is the official minder of nuclear stockpiles. We facilitate the suicide of the sick and elderly. We celebrate the dismembering of preborn babies. Indeed, we typify the anti-culture of the country’s established disorder.

One more stop: What would our foreign policy be like? Marinelli, as a precursor, seems more interested in showcasing the LGBT agenda than in challenging Moscow’s proclivity to poison opposition leaders. Not a promising start, is it?

So, gentle reader, what do you say about California?

 

Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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