Calexit group gaining momentum: Should California leave the United States?

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- Members of the group known as "Yes California" say they want the state to become its own independent nation after Donald Trump won the presidential election in November and supporters of the so-called "Calexit" movement say their cause appears to be gaining ground.

But political experts say the idea would face some huge hurdles.

Clare Hedin, who heads the Bay Area chapter of "Yes California," says the level of support the group has received has tripled since the Nov. 8 election.

"There was such a strong divide between those who voted for Trump and those of us who saw a different future, it just doesn't look to me like [going forward like this] is feasible," Hedin said. "The approach we’re using is legal, lawful and peaceful and makes a small but significant tweak to the California constitution."

 

The group is trying to gather the needed 585,000 signatures for a statewide ballot measure in 2018.

But even if the measure were to pass, experts say many political and legal barriers would remain.

Political analyst Brian Sobel says if California were to secede from the Union, it would require the support of two-thirds of the U.S. Congress, which is not likel to happen.

"California is a huge economic engine for the rest of the country and the idea that other states would say okay go off on your own, is not only unlikely, it's incredibly improbable," Sobel said.

Hillary Clinton received 4 million more votes in California than Trump did, and given that much of the rest of the country is made up of "red" states, the idea of breaking away doesn't seem as outlandish to some, as it once did.

California is the world’s sixth largest economy and pays the federal government $370 billion a year in taxes and Yes California says that's much more than the state’s fair share.

Louis Marinelli, founder of the Yes California group is American but lives and works in Russia, recently announced the opening of an office in Russia, tweeting "Today the embassy of the independent Republic of California opens in Moscow."

Hedin says there's value in showcasing California's influence and economic power, even if the effort ultimately fails.

"I think the fact that we’re saying so out loud, and it's getting louder that we want to be independent," Hedin said. "I think it gives people pause for thought on both sides."

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