The most populous state in the US and the world’s sixth largest economy, California was also the bluest patch on the 2016 electoral map, with 61 per cent of Golden State voters casting their ballots for Hillary Clinton. So as Donald Trump completed his electoral college triumph on Tuesday night, some Californians decided the only response was to declare independence.
As the results rolled in, the hashtag #Calexit began trending on Twitter, as hundreds of west coast Democrats began calling for secession from the US. Protesters planned a Calexit demonstration on the steps of the state capitol in Sacramento, while two state legislators released a statement saying Trump’s election left them “feeling like strangers in a foreign land.”
Several states, including Texas, have long-standing if unsuccessful independence movements. The group leading the call for California secession is Yes California, which was launched last year with the aim of putting a referendum on the 2018 ballot proposing the state become an independent republic.
The campaign was originally modelled on Catalonia’s independent movement, but has taken heart – and a hashtag – from the success of Brexit. Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar also took up the secessionist cause on Tuesday, tweeting that he would fund a “legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation” in the wake of Trump’s victory.
Little mentioned amid the rage and excitement of the campaigners was the fact that, were California to break off from the US, it would take its 55 (reliably Democratic) electoral college votes with it, presumably making it even more difficult for Democrats to win the presidency of the remaining 49 states in future.