Calexit has resurfaced, but California could remain a part of the United States under a milder ballot measure that eases up on the independence-or-bust movement that arose following Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
Friday, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and other members of the California Freedom Coalition filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the word “inseparable” from the California Constitution’s Article III declaration that “California is an inseparable part of the United States of America,” while adding a section stating the state’s intent to become a “fully-functioning sovereign and autonomous nation.”
“The path to both autonomy and full independence is largely the same; for California to take stock of the leverage it has over the United States, and to use this leverage to negotiate for ever greater autonomy, culminating in a final settlement redefining California's relationship with the United States,” reads the measure. “Therefore, the purpose of this measure is to put California on the path towards becoming a fully-functioning sovereign and autonomous nation, whether within continued association with the United States of America, or as an independent country.”
Previous Calexit proposals, if approved by voters, would have put the state on the path to seeking nothing short of independence. Organizers abandoned that effort last month.
Advocates of both measures cited similar rationales: federal policies on climate change, immigration, workers’ rights and other issues they claim are anathema to the views of most Californians, even as the state generates more in federal tax revenue than it gets in return.
Under the latest proposal, California’s governor would lead negotiations with the federal government on achieving greater autonomy for the state and, possibly, a final deal with Washington leading to the state’s independence.
Stephen Gonzalez, the president of the California Freedom Coalition, said he thinks the latest proposal will appeal to voters of all political stripes, from left-leaning coastal voters concerned about federal policies to more conservative inland areas that have sought more autonomy.
“It was secession or nothing,” Gonzalez said of the previous Calexit proposal. “We have taken a different route which we think will have far more support across the political spectrum.”
Once proponents are cleared to begin circulating petitions, they will need to collect 585,407 valid voter signatures. Gonzalez said the campaign intends to hire signature gatherers, with plans to raise $2 million to $3 million for the campaign over the next 12 months.