Left-wing activists in California want Californians to secede from the Union. They point to Scotland, Brexit, Catalonia and other modern secession movements as proof that the Civil War precedent is no longer binding. That precedent, like a roach motel, is that once a state is in the union it can never leave.
California should try. I do not wish California success in the effort, but the attempt is worth it to demonstrate to Californians that conservatives have been right all along. Washington is far too powerful and does far too much.
The founders of this nation never intended for a one size fits all national government. But in the past eight years of Barack Obama, progressive activists oblivious to both history and constitutional law have advanced the notion that states are now irrelevant. In fact, just a few weeks ago in the Washington Post, a writer named Lawrence R. Samuel argued that "states are a relic of the past." He made the argument because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and therefore should be president, despite the small matter of our constitutional processes that include an electoral college.
Samuel argued that "our states are no longer culturally diverse regions with their own respective identities; rather, they are artificially constructed geographic entities." That single sentence has almost as many fallacies as it has words. After then noting "Americans share a remarkably similar way of thinking and acting," he goes on to completely contradict his entire thesis by noting "the legal system would have to be overhauled. (Probably a good thing in itself given the vast inconsistencies in laws across state lines.)" In one parenthetical he undermines his entire argument.
The truth is we have 50 states that have ceded only limited authority to the District of Columbia. But over the past 100 years, progressives and both political parties in the constant quest for power have made Washington too powerful. From the amount of water your toilet can flush to the light bulbs you use to whether men can use your daughter's bathroom, progressives have not only demanded a unitary, large national government, but they have also demanded one size fits all, secular amorality.
Our founders were far wiser than us and had a far better understanding of humanity. Having survived a war for independence, they knew that men covet power, and direct democracy is a terrible thing that leads to mob rule. They structured our constitution to limit the power of men, the power of institutions and the power of states against each other and the federal government against the states. Gridlock is a feature, not a bug, of the system. But over the last 100 years, more and more people have looked to Washington for salvation.
Washington was never supposed to be so consequential. The fight for control over the Supreme Court was never supposed to exist. Both the Court and Washington were supposed to be ancillary to the daily lives of the citizens of the several states. A California secession movement would remind people of that.
If California wants gay marriage and abortion, let them have it. If Georgia wants traditional marriage and no abortion, let them have it. If California wants to demand one size fits all, secular amorality, transgender bathrooms, and taxes on plastic grocery bags, let them. California should be able to do whatever it wants as long as its legislature votes for it. But California should not be able to impose its morality, laws, and taxes on other states.
Direct democracy is a terrible thing and the near bankrupt state of California proves it. As British Prime Minister Clement Attlee noted in 1945, "I could not consent to the introduction into our national life of a device so alien to all our traditions as the referendum, which has only too often been the instrument of Nazism and fascism." California has suffered under the whims of direct democracy and mob rule. It should be allowed to continue that.
In the process of California divesting itself from Washington, perhaps progressives will finally see why conservatives, for so long, have argued the states, not Washington, should reign supreme in our system.