Even before our new president began settling into the White House, a grassroots movement was already underway, gradually building momentum toward the singular goal of California seceding from the union.
According to the Washington Post, the activist group Yes California has responded to the Trump presidency by mobilizing its minions, which now constitute 53 chapters statewide, determined to gather the half-million votes necessary for getting the measure on the state ballot in 2018. I encourage readers to donate generously.
And here I offer these sage words of advice to the secessionists: look south.
I have some authority on this subject. Born and raised in West Los Angeles, I am intimately acquainted with the glitter and glamour of the Left Coast. My best friend in first grade was Sammy Davis, Jr.'s son. I went to summer camp with the children of Michael Landon and Quinn Martin. My parents' friends were directors and producers.
But please, don't be impressed. I'm not.
There has been much speculation about why California produces such bizarre behavior and such curious characters. Most likely, it is the seductive mixture of perennial sun, sea air, and Hollywood phantasmagoria that created this cultural black hole of self-indulgence and self-delusion, into which all human lucidity is sucked and lost forever.
Well, not always. After graduating high school, I found the Underground Railroad that eventually led to intellectual and moral redemption. Although surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Mojave Desert to the east, and Mexico to the south, there is one route by which it is possible to escape the gulag of Southern California. But it is a dangerous path, requiring descent into even deeper darkness by heading north, toward San Francisco. After that, it's straight on till morning.
Dawn broke for me when I arrived at the University of California, Davis, then one of the most politically conservative colleges in the country. What I immediately discovered was that there are two Californias. And although they may lie within the same regional borders, they are as distant from one another as Boston, Massachusetts, and Biloxi, Mississippi.
Northern California is a land of agriculture, work ethic, and traditional values. It is the breadbasket of the country, rich in natural resources and firmly rooted in the ideal of personal responsibility that made America great.
Residents of the northern regions hate the southerners who share their name, whose dense urban populations control the votes, the state legislature, taxes and policies, the Electoral College, and the allocation of resources. It is instructive to observe that if you removed California from our recent national election, Mr. Trump would have won the popular vote in the other 49 states by some 2 million votes. And the tipping point came overwhelmingly from the south.
35 years ago, one could already hear the murmurs of northern Californians longing for secession – not from the country but from the state. Some observers still wonder that northern and southern Californians have not long since gone the way of northern and southern Sudanese.
So here's my advice to the secessionists in California. By all means, rally your troops, fight for your rights, never say die. And if you're serious, if you really want to secede, draw a line on the map of your future fiefdom just above Sacramento and enlist the support of your northern neighbors by offering them the promise of getting rid of you.
And who knows? With a small measure of good fortune, the secessionist movement may indeed start a trend. Perhaps Portland will follow SoCal's lead and secede from Oregon; Seattle might free itself from Washington State; and just imagine Chicago saying fare-thee-well to Illinois, and the northeastern states asking for collective annexation by Cuba.
There is an alternative, of course. We could return to the days of civil discourse, of objective and responsible media, an informed electorate, and a desire to work together for the common good based upon shared history and values.
But who am I kidding? The secessionist plan is far more realistic.
Of course, it won't take long before conservatives and moderates start to fight tooth and nail once the liberals have departed. But maybe the honeymoon will last until the next election.