Does California need to secede?

Maybe not ... but we need to start thinking and acting as if we are entirely on our own and prepare now for the coming crisis

There was enough talk on Twitter this morning about California seceding from the United States to merit a story on CBS News. I don’t think the folks at CBS were taking it too seriously, but some of the people putting out tweets were. And now the Guardian (UK) has picked up the story as Silicon Valley folks talk about funding a referendum. One member of the state Assembly is going to introduce legislation to begin the process. There is, of course, a website devoted to the idea.

It's happening, and we better be ready.
It’s happening, and we better be ready.

Based on #Calexit tweets, the good people of Oregon and Washington would like to join us.

And Trump would probably be happy to see the West Coast go.

Maybe Nevada wants to join, too.

I’m only a little bit serious, but I’m only a little bit kidding. The West Coast seems to have to little in common with the rest of the country now. More important, the states and the cities that are not in synch with what Trump has in mind are going to have to do something pretty radical:

We aren’t actually going to secede (I think) – but we have to act as if we are.

By that I mean that California, and its major cities, now have to recognize that the federal government is not only no longer our friend, it is probably our enemy. And we have to stop thinking that Washington is going to help and start figuring out how we can deal with the massive impending crisis on our own.


And we need to start now.

We don’t know what Trump and a GOP Congress will do, but we can guess. And those guesses tell us that we are in for some serious shit.

We need to plan before the bad stuff comes down – and city and state officials need to immediately assure their constituents that they are on top of this. It’s as if we knew there would be a 9.0 earthquake in three months.

Seriously: People in the city are really, really scared. I was just out of college when Reagan won, but it was nothing like this – the Democrats controlled the House, we figured it would be bad but survivable … and of course, we were wrong. It was horrible. But as I walk the streets I see people more afraid than I’ve ever experienced in politics.

So far, City Hall and Sacramento haven’t responded.


So what we need to do is  hold hearings and make plans for what we are going to do when:

The modest money we still get from the federal government for transportation, housing, and other services almost entirely goes away. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars. How is San Francisco going to replace that funding? We’re no longer talking about pushing a Clinton administration to add money for affordable housing; we’re talking about losing almost everything that’s left.

The Affordable Care Act is repealed and tens of thousands of San Franciscans and millions of Californians lose their health insurance. Where are they going to go when they get sick? How are we going to pay for the impact on SF General?

Medicare is so deeply cut that tens of thousands of seniors lose their health insurance. How are we going to take care of them?

Privatized Social Security tanks in a bad market, and tens of thousands of seniors can’t pay their rent or eat. Who is going to help them?

A huge new force of federal agents starts trying to deport thousands of San Franciscans, tearing up families and shattering communities. How are we going to respond?

The Charter School movement takes aim at our public schools at the same time that a new secretary of education pushes a radical-right agenda.

The list goes on; this is just a start. But it’s not far off – much of that could happen in the next 12 months or less. And then how about

The Trump economic agenda causes the markets to tank and the economy to go into a tailspin, and we have another deep recession, where tax revenue to local and state government falls off and we are facing deep deficits just as we most need local and state services.

As I said: An 9.0 or greater earthquake. And we don’t have any insurance.



I know it’s only been one day, but we need to get to work now. Mayor Lee: The city is full of people so afraid that they can’t go to work. What are you going to tell them?

The new supervisors will take office just as the Trump Earthquake hits. That’s too late – the board needs to start making plans now.

Gov. Jerry Brown needs to call an emergency session of the state Legislature to line up contingency plans: How will the state handle health care if the ACA is repealed in February? What will happen if the Environmental Protection Agency is defunded (as Trump promised) to the point where it can’t function?

Who’s going to address the very real potential for massive poverty among seniors?

I’m waiting for Jerry Brown and Ed Lee to say:

We are California, and we are San Francisco, and we can survive this. It will require the wealthiest among us (many of whom voted and worked against Trump) to accept much higher taxes. It will require us all to enforce Sanctuary City laws – even if that means, as Trump threatens, that we will lose federal money.

The state is going to give cities the tools they need to last this out (the Ellis act, Costa Hawkins, and every other law that restricts local rent control and eviction protections) will be repealed. State rules limiting local taxes will go. We will all work together to modify Prop. 13.

When the ACA is gone, we will create a state-run single-payer program that provides health care for all.

California is rich. San Francisco is rich. We can build housing for vulnerable seniors, and supplement what the feds cut, and create our own safety net. And we are going to do it, because we have no choice.

That’s what I want to hear, and I’m not hearing it. The earthquake is coming, and its damage is going to be incalculable. Why are we not getting ready, now?


  1. the democrats aren’t in any position to do anything. anything that gets fkd up in the next 4 years, the responsibility rests squarely on republican shoulders.

  2. All these same things were said in 2000 when Bush stole the election from Al Gore. You may not be old enough to remember, but once in power, the GOP governed (and got away with it) as though they hand a mandate like Reagan or Nixon did.

  3. Trump has already been co-opted by the Christian, Right Wing of the Republican Party. Pence has replaced Christie as head of the transition and he will be choosing all the support staff of the new administration. Whatever promises Trump made during the campaign are worthless. I feel sorry for you if you believe Trump is anything other than a Plutocrat.

  4. Because bad people in the Republican establishment will do as they will. Just like Cheney and the neocons with Bush, only worse.

  5. Yep. California has the economy of a large country, and it doesn’t even need to pay for an army. Let it run what the feds won’t.

  6. “It’s against state law, as it should be.” I’m saying, repeal that law, so tha cities can decide what’s appropriate for each one of them. New York City has municipal income tax, and it’s not the worst thing.
    The only argument against it is that it will keep more money in richer areas, as opposed to state tax, which can move money around. I’d like to see it brought up, though.

  7. It’s the revenge of the downtrodden and pussy whipped uneducated white male. Soon they will realize that the old man is just another con artist and he won’t be able to force Apple computer to move its factories from China to the rust belt of the U.S. or revive the coal industry in West Virginia any more than he can bring back the dial up telephone . at some point there may be a violent revolution and military coux which is often the only way anything gets done

  8. Like the pragmatists in Germany after Hitler was elected? No thanks. It’s not just about Trump, it’s also about how our money is spent in DC. Without the drain of endless wars & a huge military industrial complex our tax dollars could finally do what they are intended to do. Keep our taxes in CA, let the inbred states fund their own infrastructure.

  9. I know, she’s too pragmatic for your tastes. But there would be 3 or 4 more charter schools operating in SF if she hadn’t worked to block them. And more traditional schools with less enrollment.

  10. Actually that’s quite wrong. If you vote for a racist and a homophobic, there by empowering him over ethnic and other minorities, then by definition yes you are a racist and a homophobe. Socialism 101. And that’s the college course not the economic system. And please explain how “liberal elites on the coasts” belittled or humiliated working class whites in middle America and the south? WTF kinda excuse is that? If you think Republicans or Democrats give a sheite about any working class Americans you are very naive. Remember greed is a factor that’s controlling both parties. There will be no meaningful progress or reform until all the money is out of politics. Citizens united just to start is unconstitutional because it is written in said document that no member of ruling government may profit from his or her position in government. The current backlash from election outcomes is because people don’t want a sexist, misogynist, racist, rapist, ignorant, megalomaniac, delusional, sociopath ruling our country. One reason democrats have trouble attracting working class whites is because they are more hesitant to point to the lower class as the reason for any economic inequality. when all the blame for economic inequality should be directed at the 1% who write all of our legislation. The republicans very skillfully make all middle class and working class believe it is social programs that are holding them back and keeping them from being part of that special 1% group.

  11. It is very simple. There is only one solution. Remember taxation without representation? Anyone? First San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and always will be. He is going to cut funding so much anyway losing all federal funding won’t be much worse. If the federal government cuts all funding then obviously why would we contribute federal tax revenues. California has way more power than most Californians realize. If the federal government refuses to give us our slice of the pie, then why would we contribute to the pie. Of course it will require our own digital currency. And succession. Of course Trump i’m sure will try to respond with nuclear weapons. And when the military won’t allow that he will probably respond with the national guard. And even if he kills every Californian he still won’t be able to steal our digital money. And i’ll just bet we could get mexico to take our side. I’m sure Australia would take our side and help us. And before all that happens i think the rest of the country might say uuuhhh maybe it’s not worth all that. We need to seriously start the process so maybe just maybe team moron might think twice before trying to seriously piss off almost half of its economy. We need to make congress and the senate seriously consider what a headache it would be if we said ok cut all our funding, then F*%# you. And if Oregon and Washington want to stand with us then, welcome brothers and sisters. F*%# paul ryan, f*%# mitch mcconnell, and F*%# donald trump. F*%# all those hateful bastards. WITHHOLD FEDERAL TAX REVENUES, is our only play.

  12. Trump has been very clear that he does not support any cuts to or privatization of either Social Security or Medicare. He was in numerous arguments about this in the Republican debates where he stated the same, repeatedly. So I find it disingenuous Tim is attempting to scaremonger using claims of privatization and massive cuts. And the idea that Jerry Brown or Ed Lee are going to demand our income tax rates, already the highest in the country, go up (“a lot”) to pay for the $1.5 billion we’re going to lose due to our Sanctuary Policy, is laughable. If it comes down to it – the city will drop Sancturary vs. taking a 20% hit to its budget and laying off thousands of unionized city workers, the kind every supervisor depends on for reelection, in response.

  13. Since Canada seems to building a wall of its own, its possible that many Americans will look to Blue states for refuge. Forget building housing; we must map off the sidewalks to parcel out tent spaces; then impose rent/taxes to begin to pay for the services (water/sewer/garbage/security) that will be needed for these ‘other Americans’. Calvin — how many spaces can your block hold?

  14. I did not know this, and it speaks well of her. We’ll have to see if Wynn’s successors show the same spine when the issue comes up again, as it undoubtedly will.

  15. Everyone is freaked out (including me) but you need to consider a couple of things:
    1. The Republicans only have a slight majority and their leaders are going to have to be very careful. Even Mitch McConnell said that they need to tread lightly. The Republicans really don’t want to be associated with Trump, and they won by a fluke – the midterm elections are only two years away and they know it. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and its possible that many people voted Republicans in the legislature to limit her capability. Most people don’t really trust any political party and they fear single party control.
    2. We probably will have a recession but it probably won’t be a depression. It depends whether he can get the taxing and spending bills he wants are there are big questions. Anyone who has any money in US dollar denominated stocks should get out and short the dollar. The US dollar always collapses under Republican presidents. Buy gold.
    3. The Supreme Court is not going to go back and second guess themselves and reverse prior decisions made. The three big socially progressive decisions made by the Supreme Court ( with a conservative Republican chief justice) on gay marriage, abortion rights and the commerce clause protecting the ACA are going to stay. If they reverse a decision they made, it can have broad implications for many other decisions and create a complete mess in the entire judicial system.
    4. Trump in an old man, really too old to be President. He represents a dying generation of leaders which screwed everyone over, and I include Bill Clinton and George W Bush in this. This is not really a pivotal election in American history. All really serious politicians who want to have a legacy and an impact realize that they have to attract younger voters and keep them.
    5. The worst impact he could probably have is on the environment, by reversing the progress made by Obama on climate change and coal regulations. This could be bad. But when the coal miners realize that he is not bringing back coal demand anytime soon maybe they will turn against him. Coal mining will be done by robots in the future anyway.
    6. A wall against a 1500 mile border in the desert? Really? All you would have to do is go in a boat or a plane to go around a wall. I doubt it will happen. The wall is a metaphor for racism. He can’t call people niggers or spiks so he says build a wall. The people who live in Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico don’t want it.

  16. “The state is going to give cities the tools they need to last this out (the Ellis act, Costa Hawkins, and every other law that restricts local rent control and eviction protections) will be repealed. State rules limiting local taxes will go. We will all work together to modify Prop. 13.”

    Right; basically Tim wants to do everything he can to stop the creation of more housing. Having Tim Redmond and his economically-ignorant ilk in charge would be (almost) as bad as Trump — a very close runner up in terms of demagoguery and fact-free ideology.

  17. Jill Wynns, who was always anti-charter, lost and will be off the board for the first time in 24 years.

    Every time a charter school seeking approval came before the board, she would ask: “Which traditional school will we have to close if we approve this charter? Because this is a zero-sum game.”

    I’ll miss her. Most school board members are merely using the job as a springboard for a political career.

  18. “Allowing cities to levy income taxes ” Nonsense, this would indeed be the third rail. It’s against state law, as it should be. And the concerns of SF are not in sync with the concerns of other areas of California.

  19. People forget that secession happened prior to the civil war and it didn’t work out very well.
    The insurance industry pays the republicans and they don’t want an immediate halt to the ACA without a replacement. Vermont already has a single payer health care system but the quality of care is not always as good as in the more prosperous states. States will be left on their own to figure out their own solutions probably.
    No meaningful progress or reform will happen in this country without a strong mandate like FDR had prior to passing The New Deal. And the Democrats need to realize that not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or homophobe. A good democrat has to be able to attract working class whites in middle America and the south, many of whom feel degraded, belittled and humiliated by the so called liberal elites on the coasts.
    Hopefully there will be another chance.

  20. Secession is an idea we should take seriously. Just because it seems difficult/impossible right now, doesn’t mean that conditions can’t change if we build a movement. As to the why, just click on the link that Tim provided. I don’t think people would find much to disagree with, whether you’re moderate, liberal, or progressive.

    The only thing I’d add is that it just plain fits in with the principle of self-determination. California is very different than the rest of the country. You can tell that from the vote totals. CA is now the most Democratic state in the union, with the exception of *maybe* Hawaii (although even that’s not certain depending on remaining votes). We voted against Trump more strongly than even Massachusetts.

    But it’s not just about Trump. This divide has been building for a while. On all sorts of cultural and economic issues, we have a very different mentality. I’m sick of having to try to fight to drag the rest of the country along, and I’m not sure it’s fair or morally right to even do that. Why not live the way we want to live and let the rest of the country live the way they want to live?

    I’d like to see a vote. I don’t think it will win. Maybe it’ll get 40%. That’s OK. If people wake up and see “Hey wow. I thought I was the only one who thought this way, but millions of Californians are ready for this too,” well then that starts a conversation and we can go from there.

  21. I haven’t followed school board politics, but I know that all of those elected this time around were relatively progressive so something along these lines is a possibility.

  22. Your point about charter schools is good.

    But WE can do something LOCALLY about that. Charter schools are approved by LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS. At the next school board meeting, the reps can yank the all charters as of 2017. This will be great for traditional schools like Mission High School, which have been bled dry by charters stealing white/Asian kids away from them.

  23. The only thing we can predict for sure is the repeal of the ACA and we should be planning for it. Do Jerry Brown and members of the Legislature have the courage to establish a single payer system?

  24. I advocate being pragmatic and taking a wait&see approach. And where was this anger months ago when it was apparent Hillary was stealing the election from Bernie?

  25. One thing we need is to not be afraid of is to raise state income taxes to match Federal income tax cuts, and so make up for lost income. It’s clear now that higher state taxes don’t drive people to lower tax states. Raising taxes is not the third rail everyone thinks it is, when the reasoning behind it is clear.
    Allowing cities to levy income taxes would be very handy, too.

  26. …the democrats aren’t going to to a damn have better chances buying a lotto ticket…they only care about themselves …

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