California dreaming: 'Movement to secede from US continues'
As Americans gather to celebrate 240 years of Independence, RT spoke to the leaders of the Texas and California independence movements over the possibility of some future secession in an effort to build separate sovereign countries.
It seems the referendum in the UK has fired-up some US states to revive their own bids to break away from Washington.
The Texas Nationalist Movement, which says it has about a quarter of a million supporters, has already called on the state's governor to support a referendum for Texans.
Besides #Texit, there is also a similar movement in California, which is not only the most populous American state. It has an economy the size of France. Many Californians and Texans, however, are getting tired of seeing their tax dollars go to Washington.
RT: Do you think that will be positive for any state to exit the US?
Louis J. Marinelli, President Yes California Independence Campaign: I wouldn’t necessarily say that all states would benefit from becoming independent. Our campaign is focused on California’s future as an independent country. And we certainly believe that California, perhaps Texas, could become an independent country and it would benefit their people.
RT: Why do you think it is better for California to become an independent country?
LJM: We are here in California subsidizing the other states of this union. And as a result losing tens and sometimes hundreds of billions of dollars every year, giving our taxpayer money to states like Alabama, Mississippi and some of the other states. And as a result we can’t have the money we need in California to build roads or pay for universal health care or education. So, our independence will allow us to keep this money here in California and allow us to spend it on these priorities.
RT: How do you think you could organize this exit?
LJM: Here in California, it is a unique system. We have a ballot initial system that allows citizens to propose a ballot initiative by collecting a couple hundred thousand signatures. We intend starting next year to collect those couple of hundred thousand signatures and qualify an independence referendum for the 2020 ballot. We did an informal poll and asked 9,000 Californians ‘Should California become an independent country?’ And the response at that time was 41 percent saying ‘Yes’. So it’s not a majority yet but we’re four years away from an independence referendum and so we have that time to change the minds of nine or 10 percent of the population…
One important aspect of [our efforts to form a separate nation] is that the United States is part of the United Nations, and the UN Charter guarantees people the right of self-determination. Because of the American Constitution it says that treaties ratified by Congress are the supreme law of the land, therefore the UN Charter is also the supreme law of the land and therefore we intend to invoke that charter and to demand our right to self-determination…
This is an entirely peaceful, legal and constitutional method that we intend to mimic and that is why we take such encouragement from what happened in the Brexit vote... We say, ‘Let the people vote’ to decide the issue.
RT: Why do you think Texas should become an independent country?
Daniel Miller, President of the Texas Nationalist Movement: At the end of World War II, there were 54 recognized countries around the world and at the end of the 20th century, there were 192. Across virtually every measure that is used to rank independent nation states, Texas is near the top. We have the ninth or tenth largest economy in the world; we currently pop about $400 billion every single year into the federal coffers. I think the question people should be asking is: ‘If Texas couldn’t make it as an independent nation, then exactly who could?’
Let’s be honest, a referendum is not just a statement or protest. A referendum is a statement of political will and what we have seen in virtually every independence movement around the world is culminating in a referendum. Letting the people decide how they want to govern themselves…We are seeking out the people who are ready to see Texas as an independent nation because we are ready to take this to a vote. Our stated goal has been since our inception to get and win a binding referendum on Texas independence and that’s exactly what we intend to do.
Lionel, media and legal analyst, commented on the issue: “This romantic idea that somehow we can leave or we can reject the country and we can renounce laws that we find draconian: gun laws, taxation laws. We have people in this country who believe that you don’t have to pay taxes. We have separatists, we have Tea Party folks. We have a conglomeration of all types of folks who I think are channeling their dislike with the progress of the country or with this administration or laws, and they express it in terms of this nonsensical idea of secession.”
RT: Could the Brexit vote become an inspiration for your movement program?
DM: There is no doubt about it that there are many states in the US that are donor states. What you find interesting is how those sentiments were also exhibited or expressed in the Brexit vote - the people of the UK felt like they were paying more into the EU than they were getting out of it. And that is exactly as it is here in Texas. Texas sends about $400 billion a year into the federal coffers. We get back only a fraction of that and what we do get back is not spent to address the problems and challenges that we are facing right here. There is a growing discontent and that is part of the fuel… We bristle at the fact that we have to live under 180,000 pages of federal laws, rules and regulations that are administered by 440 separate agencies and commissions with 1.5 million federal bureaucrats – 90,000 of which make more than the governor of Texas. So while we are having these issues here in Texas – whether it be immigration and the border, education or infrastructure, no matter what it is, we’re having a harder time justifying the fact that we’re sending that money to Washington, D.C. There is this growing sentiment in Texas that the best people to govern Texas are Texans.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.