As we near the 2020 election, Calexit is repositioning itself for an independence referendum to take place in 2024, which will prompt the beginning moves of devolution, ultimately to take place in 2032.
The movement for California to secede from the United States began in 2014, with organizers taking their inspiration from YES Scotland referendum which also took place that year. After receiving a large boost in 2016, organizers are again preparing a political campaign as the federal response to COVID-19, and in particular how the federal government has been treating California, comes on full display.
California, Washington, and Oregon made headlines earlier this year as they formed the West Coast Pact, informally known as the Salmon Pact, that brought governors together to coordinate phased re-openings. British Columbia also decided to coordinate their efforts specifically with Washington State over that of the United States federal government, solidifying the west coast presence. In the Northwest, a similar movement including British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, called Cascadia, seeks to achieve similar goals, but along bioregional lines (defined by watersheds, as opposed to human political lines) and also have a YesCascadia movement.
In California, popular sentiment and cultural nods are helping to boost the visibility of the movement, with shows like The Politician on Netflix bringing the idea into the mainstream. It stars Gywneth Paltrow as the lead character running for governor of California on the platform of US secession.
In this climate, Yes California has announced it appointed Scot Alastair Caithness, a Scottish independence supporter who has lived in San Diego since 2015. Speaking to the Sunday National, he said the campaign has put together a fresh bill to secede, which is seeking to institute a government with proportional representation.
“It is not going to be straight independence, they are looking to get more devolution at this stage,” he says. “They want a vote for 2024 and at that point we will move to devolution… They are looking maybe to 2032 independence.”
Caithness says there are around 160,000 members in the Yes California movement.
While that is a small percentage of California as a whole, it is a great starting point for a new political movement, and one in which momentum is growing rapidly. In order for the vote to take place on November 5, 2024, the proposal will have to be backed by more than half a million signatures.