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Blue States Press

Movement explores possibility of California secession

By Lauren Becker, Aggie Staff Writer
The California Aggie
Published: January 19, 2005

Unsatisfied with the results of the Nov. 2 elections, a newly formed organization called Move On California has begun to look at the possibility of a California secession from the United States.

Jeff Morrissette, a Santa Barbara resident and founder of the Committee to Explore California Secession, established the organization in reaction to the events of the 2004 presidential elections.

A goal of the organization is to provoke meaningful conversation concerning change for the future. Although Morrissette admitted that he does not know if secession is the right answer, he said he wants to give the idea serious consideration.

"Secession will not happen overnight," Morrissette said. "But we may see some movement in the coming decades towards a different shaped map that follows ideological lines."

Although Morrissette does not see immediate change, he said that if tendencies toward a religious bureaucracy continue, secession may become a necessary option.

"Most Californians do not want to live under government that is controlled by right-winged religious conservatives," Morrissette said. "Many people see this type of control as a threat in California."

If California were to secede, Morrissette noted several advantages that would become apparent.

"We would be able to have an autonomous government," Morrissette said. "It would be distinct from the politically right-winged views of the middle and southern parts of the U.S. that seem to be driving politics today."

With the fifth-largest economy in the world, California would become a major trade partner with other states in the existing U.S., according to Morrissette.

In addition, if it becomes its own sovereign state, California would progress more toward accepting the social views denied under current leadership.

"Californians could continue to uphold women's right in regards to abortion and support gay marriages," he said.

Morrissette added that although the idea may seem radical, other states have previously considered seceding including Vermont, Oregon and Washington.

Despite secession's benefits, Morrissette said that conflict and opposition is an inevitable part of the process.

"If this were to come about, it would not be without a great deal of struggle," Morrissette said. "In the short term, this could cause straining relations with other states."

Compared to the southern secessionist movement during the Civil War, Morrissette said that his organization has opposing reasons for secession.

"This is a movement based on cultural and socially progressive views," Morrissette said. "We are talking about moving away for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons."

UC Davis Professor of American history Clarence Walker said that secession has never succeeded in the U.S.

"Secession did not succeed in the South because the North was more powerful and wouldn't let them break away," Walker said. "I seriously doubt that the American Republic would give up something as powerful as California because it is a major economic power in the United States."

Walker added that the possibility of California seceding from the rest of the U.S. is highly unlikely.

"No nation today will allow a part of itself to independently walk away from the rest of the country," Walker said.

UCD professor emeritus of political science Edmond Costantini also said that the likelihood of California secession is "absolutely zero."

"I suppose that the genesis of the idea is that California and other blue states seem to be just out of step in what they value or how they vote, and would be better off going at it alone," Costantini said. "It would be an awfully big move whose chances are closer to none than slim."

As of now, Morrissette's first steps have been publicizing the group and generating dialogue among people. The Move On California website was posted a week ago and has since received approximately 5,000 hits and 200 e-mail responses.

"The word is just getting out there," Morrissette said, "but I think we are accomplishing something by beginning the conversation."

For more information on the organization, visit

Lauren Becker can be reached at

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