Richard Stirner and the American Scholar would be among the first to condemn as treason and deplore the 1860 attempt of Southern States to gain their Independence, but if California seceded because of Trump, well, that’s a horse of a different color.
If secessionist Californians get a referendum on California nationhood, and if the referendum gives the secessionists the results they are looking for, what happens then? Given the antipathy of a segment of Trump voters to all things Hollywood and by extension all things California, the political calculations in the White House are hard to predict. Other elected leaders and candidates for office, in California and throughout the nation, would certainly ponder the matter. If anyone were to cite Texas v. White, secessionists could counter with a simple question: If the current union, which created the Supreme Court, is now scrapped the way its predecessor union was, how can this court decision be binding? The state attorney general might well be asked to examine legal aspects of that and other questions, including the time-honored right of revolution that Jefferson proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.
Others might formulate a plan for continued association between California and the United States. Bilateral agreements might well be proposed that would let the U.S. departments of Defense and Homeland Security go on using their existing California bases and facilities via lease. Other agreements might permit the continued collaboration of other federal entities and their California equivalents. An agreement to transfer the assets and liabilities of the existing Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to a new Bank of California might be feasible since that bank, like all the other banks within the Federal Reserve System, is owned by the member banks in its districtâ€”owned via stock shares.
Who can say what would happen after that? Itâ€™s unthinkable that the attempt at separation could be supported by threats of force, but then we are now thinking about so many other things that would have seemed unthinkable only months ago. Would the shock value of the possibility of secession revolutionize our two-party system and lead, perhaps, to a consensus on a package of proposed constitutional amendments that might ease the crisis and pull the nation back from the brink? If a California secession referendum should succeed in 2019, the immediate effects on the presidential and congressional elections of 2020 are stunning to envision, if only as a lurid conjecture. But such a conjecture might just become reality.