What a Real Calexit Would Look Like
Since Election Day, much speculation has circulated about Calexit: the exit of California from the Union and the formation of an independent republic. Responses from the left and the right have been remarkably uniform: leftists would want to move there, and conservatives snicker at the idea of the fledgling nation devolving into a communist version of Mad Max within a few years. Now, since Inauguration Day, speculation has given way to serious discussion, and Californian secession is a real possibility in 2018. But what would actually happen if California did decide to cut her star-spangled apron strings and strike out on her own? Let’s take a look at the facts.
1. ALL THE RIGHT MONEY IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
Were it a sovereign nation, California would have the sixth-largest economy in the world. In terms of GDP, it outpaces powerhouses such as France, India, Russia, Canada, and South Korea. It also has a fairly diverse economic portfolio, giving it a leg up over the Confederate States of America, which relied on a handful of cash crops for most of its wealth. However, it’s economy is not split up in such a way that would make autonomy particularly feasible.
The single biggest industry in California is government. Not farms, not factories, not even Hollywood, but…government. The Californian state government employs a whopping 2.5 million people, and the size of this industry plays directly into the size of California’s SECOND largest industry: social welfare. Considering the fact that an independent California would require a radical restructuring of the government, this sector of the Californian economy would be extremely unstable for a number of years following secession.
Agriculture is a huge industry in California. The state produces more goods on it’s farms and fisheries than the next 23 most prolific states combined. With conditions like these, it seems reasonable to think that even a completely isolated California would at least be able to feed it’s citizens. There’s a big catch, however: almost all of the economic activity Californian farmers generate is due to exports. Only 2% of all food grown in California ends up on a Californian dinner plate; the other 98% is sold to other states or internationally. California’s agricultural sector keeps it’s head above water not by feeding locals, but by growing what other places can’t or won’t grow. In the event of secession foreign investment would likely dry up, as would trade from the States (at least, under Trump), meaning only one out of every fifty Cali farms would remain solvent.
International trade could keep the country afloat for quite some time, but this will jack up the prices of basic goods over time. Eventually the denizens of California would have to face the facts: a diverse economy is a very good thing, but you can’t eat microchips or gossip papers.
2. DYED, GREYING HAIRS
California’s population is aging–and aren’t having kids. 2016’s birthrate was the lowest in recorded Californian history, at just 12.42 births per 1,000 people (to be fair, the United States in general is experiencing a birthrate crisis, but the Union’s birthrate stands at five times California’s birthrate). The number of children in the state is steadily declining, while the working population takes hit after hit as more and more people hit retirement age. The idea that liberals have fewer kids than conservatives isn’t just a stereotype, but a factually proven reality, and California has been one of the bluest states in the Union for years.
But hey, that could all change! Millions of malcontents across the country could, in theory, pack their bags and move to the new nation to flee Trump’s reign. But the vast majority of these migrants would be like-minded liberals coming to California to be among like-minded company, meaning the population would get a youth injection that could let them coast for another generation or two, but not much more. Without a complete demographic upheaval, the nation’s population numbers would be in free fall within a century.
3. YOU AND WHAT ARMY?
Suppose push comes to shove and America wants California back. Maybe French champagne gets too expensive again or maybe a significant portion of conservatives get a sudden itch for more J.J. Abrams films. How would the two nations stack up? It’s not fair to simply compare total military power side by side, because much (read: most) of America’s military assets are tied up doing, you know, military stuff. Even Mad Dog himself couldn’t summon the entirety of the Marine Corps at the flick of a knife hand; Marines are stationed all over the globe, and simply extricating them all from current assignments would be dangerous and impractical, not to mention expensive.
Let us assume for ease of discussion that the United States could only commit the personnel it had available within the contiguous 48–er, 47–states. Let us also assume that none of the federal military installations within California have started a war already with the new nation (an extremely optimistic assumption in California’s favor). This starts off California with 190,000 regulars, a National Guard component of 23,000, for a total military size of 213,000. Unfortunately, California will not be able to call upon many irregular volunteer militias, as it has some of the most draconian gun laws on the books. Only one in every five Californians owns a gun, and the types of firearms available to the average Joe are severely restricted. By comparison, the United States would be able to field approximately 1.6 million active-duty regulars and reservists, realistically being able to immediately deploy approximately 310,000 in the event of an Amero-Californian war.
In synopsis, an independent California might actually be a decent place to live–but only for a short while. No matter how you slice it, without substantial outside assistance the new nation would begin to flounder militarily, economically, and demographically within a few decades, possibly sooner.
But hey, at least you can customize the gender on your driver’s license.
- Sean Callaghan