California Independence Initiative (Part 2/3 – Challenges to Independence)

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Yesterday I published the first of three articles about the California Independence Movement.

READ PART I HERE

The California independence ballot measure has been approved by the California Attorney General’s Office. The petition campaign must collect the required number of signatures to qualify the independence measure for the 2022 ballot.

I interviewed two of the leaders of the independence movement about the movement and the petition drive.

Hal Lohr has been the Chairman of “Independent California,” a 501c4 organization, since mid-2019. Shankar Singam, a native of India, moved with his parents to California when he was two years old. He has been involved with the California independence movement for about four years, and has been the Executive Director of “Independent California” for about a year.

I listed several independence movements and organizations I found in California. They include Yes California (Press, Media, Advocacy), Independent California (Advocacy), California Freedom Coalition (Funding, Donor Networking), Independent California Institute (Think Tank, Legislative Policy Research), and California National Party (Political Party, Candidates for Office, Community Network).

According to Hal and Shankar, they have all joined together under the umbrella of the “California Independence Movement.” Other movements, such as the women’s movement and BLM, also work with them.

CALEXIT CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES

I asked about their strategy for overcoming two major ballot hurdles. First, 50 percent of registered California voters must participate in the election. Then, 55 percent of voters must vote “yes.” They see these as two separate campaigns. They are “facing some serious complications,” Hal pointed out. Getting out the vote is important. But he sees getting voters to approve the measure as a separate campaign.

In order to qualify the measure for the ballot, 623,212 signatures must be collected by March 9, 2021 (180 days). I asked how they are approaching the challenge, if they are breaking the state into section or counties. For the in-person petition drive, they are trying to have chapters “in just about every city we can manage.”

The coronavirus presents an additional challenge. So the petition campaign also provides an online option. I asked about where their focus would be – in person or online. They’re going to do both. Hal mentioned another challenge is the massive size of the state of California. “Under COVID, more and more of it will have to be done online.”

AN INDEPENDENT CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT

Calexit has received some international press coverage, especially in the United Kingdom. The Calexit movement, I remarked, has been patterned after the Brexit movement. With that in mind, I mentioned that in our April interview Marcus Ruiz Evans told me an independent California would be either a Democratic Republic or a Parliamentary Republic. I asked Hal and Shankar for their opinions.

Shankar said the people of an independent California would decide. “We are not in a position to dictate what the government will look like.” The state, he said, will have to get past that in a peaceful secession, but the structures are already in place. As Marcus did in our April interview, Shankar talked about “California values” and how they differ from the rest of the country.

When asked if an independent California would honor the US-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA), Shankar said if it’s beneficial for an independent California he doesn’t see why they would not honor it. With the fifth largest economy in the world, California has already established trade agreements with other countries.

BORDER POLICIES AND IMMIGRATION

That led us to discuss California’s border with Mexico. Shankar told me, “You couldn’t be a nation without borders, there’s a line in the sand.” He discussed the $70 billion agricultural industry in California, which is suffering because they don’t have enough workers.

Shankar referenced the 1960’s and 1970’s when migrant workers came across the border to work and then went back to Mexico. He went on to say that when workers were afraid they wouldn’t be able to return to work the next season, they stayed in California, which exacerbated the current problem. A diverse immigrant population “makes us a better people,” he said.

He said an independent California would have an open immigration policy with more diverse people coming in. The border will remain, he told me, but it would be open.

How would they handle undocumented immigrants? They will be “fast-tracked” to citizenship, Hal said. He talked about his concern regarding families being split up and deported. He wants to avoid the “aggression and racism we apparently can’t avoid right now.”

CALIFORNIA’S MASS EXODUS

Tucker Carlson interviewed Shankar Singam on his show in August of 2017 when Singam was associated with the California Freedom Coalition. Tucker asked about Californians leaving in droves and taking their wealth with them. Shankar told Tucker it’s a good thing that the middle class is leaving because California “needs those spots opened up for the new wave of immigrants to come up.”

In addition, Shankar told both me and Tucker Carlson that Californians who go to other states are turning those states blue, and we should be thanking them.

My research (U.S. Census data) showed that California has had a negative net migration every year for the past eight years. In fact, in 2018 alone, California had a negative net migration of almost 200,000 people.

Since most undocumented immigrants are unskilled workers unsuited to high tech jobs in California, I asked how the new country would rebuild its wealth. Hal countered by saying that California has had a three percent growth rate in taxes every year for the past nine years.

So I asked about the exodus of the skilled labor force, knowing that many immigrants entering the state are unskilled laborers. Silicon Valley is tech-heavy, but according to Shankar, half of California’s economy is from Los Angeles alone.

They both talked about the culture in California that nurtures the growth of start-up companies. Hal’s comment about most of the Fortune 500 companies being in California is correct. California is a close second with 53, just behind New York, that has 54 Fortune 500 companies.

ESTABLISHING DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH THE U.S.

Marcus told me in April that an independent California would not affect the number of Senators and U.S. Representatives in Congress. I pressed Shankar and Hal on how California Senators and Representatives would be allowed to vote in Congress if they were from a different country.

Their members of Congress, Hal said, would have to return home and actually serve the people of California, which they aren’t doing now. I suggested they would essentially need to have diplomatic relations with the U.S., as other countries do now. Both Hal and Shankar agreed.

They also said California tax dollars would finally be spent in the state, rather than having their money sent to other states by the federal government.

Tomorrow, here on Independent Sentinel, I will post my final installment of my interview with the leaders of the Calexit movement: Part 3/3 – But Will Independence Work?

Image from: en.wikipedia.org


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