Organizers of a long-running initiative to secure California’s secession from the United States now say they want to give away nearly half of the state, including all of its federal land, to form an “autonomous Native American nation.”
“Calexit,” as the proposal for California’s secession is known, was given the green light by the state government earlier this year to begin collecting signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. Advocates had until mid-October to gather 365,880 signatures of registered voters to put it up for a statewide vote.
But the revamp announced by Calexit’s founders on Tuesday adds an additional objective: constructing “the first ever autonomous Native American nation in North America,” by giving Native Americans all federal lands in the state, running from the border with Mexico to the state boundary shared with Oregon.
“Why not do something to right some of the wrongs of the past to the Native American people, and give them back their land?” Calexit co-founder Louis J. Marinelli said Tuesday.
Because most of the federal land would include conservative-leaning portions of California, the plan also would create a “buffer zone between Donald Trump’s America and the new independent California Republic,” another co-founder of the initiative, Marcus Ruiz Evans, said in a statement.
Speaking to Fox News, Marinelli said the plan wouldn’t be unduly disruptive to Californians.
“It will have a minimal impact on the California population, two-thirds of which lives in a county on California’s shore,” Marinelli said.
He added that Calexit organizers will continue their fight even if Democrats make big gains in the upcoming midterm elections.
“Our campaign is not motivated by the shifting balance of political power in Washington,” Marinelli said in an email. “We are motivated by the fact that California is a distinct society with the capability to govern itself independent of a country whose values are in direct conflict with ours, and a country whose government system [and its institutions] is broken and obsolete.”
On July 4, Calexit staged a rally at the state capitol in Sacramento, calling on Trump supporters to “get out” of the state, and decrying the American “occupation” of California.
“The Fourth of July is no longer a day to celebrate in California,” the campaign said in an Independence Day statement.
Calexit is distinct from a parallel effort sponsored by venture capitalist Tim Draper to split California into three states, known as “Cal 3,” in the name of increased government efficiency.
Draper, a Stanford and Harvard-educated billionaire, received media attention — and a major windfall — four years ago by purchasing bitcoins seized by the government at auction. He had garnered more than 600,000 signatures to have his initiative placed on the November ballot, prior to its removal by the state’s highest court. His libertarian-leaning views defy simple partisan characterization: Bloomberg has described Draper’s political evolution as a journey from “Democrat to Republican to Libertarian to, well, his own party.”
The California Supreme Court earlier this month blocked the Cal 3 proposal from the November ballot, saying it was too significant a change to the state’s structure to be undertaken by a ballot initiative. Instead, the court ruled, the state’s constitution required action by the legislature.
The July ruling was a setback for Calexit’s organizers, because a similar objection could be made to their proposal to divide large portions of the state.
Calexit’s founders also have expressed frustration that voters sometimes had confused Calexit for Cal 3.
There have been multiple efforts in the past for California to break away from the rest of America. They have either been withdrawn or failed to gather the signatures required to advance.
But enthusiasm for such measures has grown in recent years. A 2014 Reuters poll showed that only 20 percent of Californians wanted to secede; in 2017, after Trump’s election, the number grew to 32 percent.
Marinelli told Fox News he is well-aware that many conservatives support California leaving the rest of the country.
“We would love to see official numbers on nationwide support for Calexit,” he said, adding that, “on a constant basis ... people [are] emailing how they want California to secede, or as they put it: break off and fall into the ocean.”