The results of the election are in: California is practically another country.
Californians woke up the morning of Nov. 9 to find something extraordinary had happened the night before.
Voters here legalized the recreational use of marijuana. They sent a liberal African American woman to the U.S. Senate. They extended the highest marginal income tax rate in the country to 2030 (or, as a practical matter, until the end of time).
Sure, voters kept the death penalty on the books, but they enacted even stricter gun controls. They approved yet another $2 per pack tax on cigarettes to pay for yet another harebrained social scheme. They backed wildly irresponsible bond measures and shot down an initiative to keep wildly irresponsible bond measures in check.
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In short, it was a progressive free-for-all, a triumph of liberal enlightenment.
Donald Trump won the presidency. How? Heaven knows, we didn’t vote for him.
In fact, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s national popular vote victory is due in large part to Golden State voters. Trump – and the U.S. Constitution – denied Clinton her foreordained coronation. Worse, he killed our buzz.
Well, your buzz maybe. Not mine.
I sat and watched in sober amazement as hundreds of people in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco flooded the boulevards, chanting “Not our president!” Folks in Oakland, always at the vanguard of political protest, wasted little time with chants before breaking store windows and setting cars on fire.
“Democracy” was in the streets. Democracy was percolating online, too. Not 12 hours passed before disgruntled Californians were circulating petitions to secede from the union. “Calexit” they’re calling it, after Britain’s vote over the summer to exit the European Union.
The Yes California website is touting a 2018 initiative that, if passed, would call for a special election on the question of whether the Golden State should leave Trump’s America and either go it alone or maybe split with Oregon and Washington and join Canada.
Secession proponents argue that California is subsidizing other, redder states at the expense of its own needs. “Although charity is part of our culture,” Yes California claims, “when you consider that California’s infrastructure is falling apart, our public schools are ranked among the worst in the entire country, we have the highest number of homeless persons living without shelter and other basic necessities, poverty rates remain high, income inequality continues to expand, and we must often borrow money from the future to provide services for today, now is not the time for charity.”
Almost everything in that statement is true. Except for the premise, which is laughably false.
California’s problems are nobody’s fault but ours. They have absolutely nothing to do with “subsidizing” red states. The state draws 45 percent of its revenue from just 1 percent of income earners. We’ve devoted at least 40 percent of the general fund to public education for nearly three decades now, with little except mediocrity to show for it.
And you talk about infrastructure? What do you expect when NIMBY lawsuits and CEQA reviews drag out projects for years and sometimes decades?
If anything, Californians should declare independence from Sacramento.
I imagine much of this furor will die down once Trump is inaugurated and the darkness fails to descend. I had lunch earlier this week with one of my egghead pals at a venerable steakhouse where our presence dropped the average age of the clientele to about 58. He made the most sensible observation I’ve heard so far.
“I don’t understand why all of these people are clamoring to secede or go to Canada,” he said. “They should come to California. We have a Canadian mindset, but with better weather.”
Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness, a journal of conservative opinion. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.