Let me introduce to you one of the dumbest ideas in modern politics: an independent California.
Calexit, a portmanteau of "California" and "exit," is a fringe political movement advocating for the separation of the aforementioned state from the rest of the country so it can form its own nation. Yes California, the group that's led the Calexit charge since 2015, argues that California's unique history, culture and economy justify secession.
The movement briefly made a splash on Monday, as #Calexit became a trending topic on Twitter after the official Calexit account tweeted out a video supporting a new, bilateral Californian foreign policy with Iran, which got over a thousand subtweets and traction with plenty of Iranian accounts, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Even some mainstream politicians are taking, if not the goals, the rhetoric of Calexit seriously. Recently, a clip of California Gov. Gavin Newsom attracted some attention after he called California a "nation-state" when talking about his state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How about start with the obvious: California literally can't exit. Even if we wanted to — which we don't, a 2017 Hoover Institution poll found no majority support for a 2018 ballot measure putting forward a special election to decide independence amongst several demographics — there's no legal way for California to leave the county. The constitutional consensus since the Supreme Court decision Texas v. White is that the right to secession does not exist under our current framework.
Don't forget that our national aversion to secession is almost entirely due to the events of the Civil War, in which several southern states seceded in order to preserve the indefensible institution of slavery and lost during the bloodiest conflict in American history. Then 2020 Libertarian presidential candidate and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee alluded to this period in American history in a comment to the Loyolan back in February, before he dropped out of the race Sunday.
"Abraham Lincoln, my namesake [whom] I'm named for, fought for the Union, against secession," Chafee explained when asked whether he supported Californian secessionism, "Of course, that was different. That was a rebellion over a contentious issue, slavery, but I think keeping the Union intact is a noble cause."
Still, Chafee's answer leaves a lot to be desired. Presidential candidates should obviously be expected to denounce slavery, but the door's still left open to other issues that Californians might be annoyed with, respect to the federal government.
What about immigration, climate and healthcare? Wouldn't most liberal Californians want to separate from a conservative government? Maybe, but there are far too many political issues where Yes California is inept.
Consider a March blog post on the Yes California website, which saw the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity "to take back control of [California's] borders," drawing influence from checkpoints and troopers along the Florida border to check for interstate travelers.
What kind of person sees a global pandemic as something to fight alone? These kinds of actions need to be clearly communicated with neighbors, and cooperation is essential to ensure that no one is endangering someone else over a lack of knowledge.
Despite Yes California's attempts to present themselves as the ultimate anti-Trump movement, brash actions like these without consideration of literally thousands of different factors are Trumpian. It's why the president's COVID-19 address back in March caused so much confusion, and it's why a Calexit with a innate desire for closed borders would be a terrifying development.
It’s no surprise, then, to know that the whole Calexit movement has years-long ties to Russian trolling and support. Journalist Casey Michel has documented several instances in which Calexit and Yes California have deep-seated ties to Russia, with the leader of Calexit hanging out in Moscow and attempting to set up an embassy there.
That Iran video that got #Calexit trending? The person in that video criticizes the United States for having “imperialistic foreign policies” and emphasizes California’s closeness to Russia in contrast to the United States’ relationship.
So why even talk about this Russian puppet of a protest? Because we need a reminder about what real solidarity looks like.
In a crisis like this, the United States and the rest of the world needs to be unified against the clear common enemy of COVID-19. Pointlessly carving up the country over petty online politics driven by nefarious foreign adversaries will only further drag this pandemic out.
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.