Gov. Gavin Newsom of California was on TRMS last night. Rachel highlighted some news he made: California has signed its own contracts with Asian manufacturers to provide 200 million N95 masks a month. California is also lending lots of ventilators to New York and a few other states, because we don’t need them right now. (So far, the federal government has not tried to interfere. Nor is it doing much to help.)

But Newsom said something else in passing; he referred twice to California as a “nation-state” which is a term specifically used for sovereign countries. He also spent a lot of time talking about cooperation with specific other states — NY, IL, WA, and OR. I thought it significant at the time, but held off on putting out a diary to see if there was a reaction or was I just hearing things.

There’s been a rection. Francis WIlkinson on Bloomberg Opinion picked up on it: Gavin Newsom Declares California a ‘Nation-State’

California this week declared its independence from the federal government’s feeble efforts to fight Covid-19 — and perhaps from a bit more. The consequences for the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive. The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and America’s budding 21st-century majority, embodied by California’s multiracial liberal electorate, are less clear.

(Wilkinson also thinks Newsom’s use of “export,” as in exporting our surplus to other states, is also significant, but this term is commonly used for movement of goods between states. California “imports” much of its electricity, for example.)

The article highlights 3 points:

First and foremost, [Newsom] is trying to relieve the shortage of personal protective equipment — a crisis the White House has proved incapable of remedying.

Second, Newsom is kicking sand in the face of President Donald Trump after Newsom’s previous flattery — the coin of the White House realm — failed to produce results. If Trump can’t manage to deliver supplies, there’s no point in Newsom continuing the charade.

Third, and this may be the most enduring effect, Newsom is sending a powerful message to both political parties.

That last point has to do with the increasing open machinations by Republicans to retain power at all costs, as we just saw in Wisconsin.

There won’t be any immediate move to exit the US. For one thing, Biden won’t have a chance without our 55 EVs. But I do think Newsom is sending up warning flags. If the Republicans persist in stealing the country, and persist in keeping a total incompetent malignant narcissistic megalomaniac as president, then they will have to do it without California's economic powerhouse. California simply will not sacrifice our citizens and our wealth for them.

Added at 8:25 PM: Let me add a couple of other points:

Newsom mentioned several governors he was working with: NY, IL, OR, and WA. All Democratic, and we have speculated before about forming a new country with them (and NE).

As mentioned in the comments, blue states contributed more in taxes than we take in, while red states are the reverses. The Republicans, of course, know this, which makes Newsom’s ad-lib a serious threat.

Yes, I know all about the Civil War. California is in a much better position than the South ever was — and one not-all-that-well-known fact about the war is that the Union would have lost without California’s gold. But I don’t think it will come to physical battle this time.

And there is another reason California, along with NY, IL and some urban states will eventually have to leave the US: there is an existential flaw in the Constitution — every state gets two Senators regardless of population, and by 2050 (if not earlier) that gives 35% of the population control of 70% of the Senate, which is the upper house. The smaller states are rural and more conservative, so that minority is going to be able to — and will — dictate to the liberal, urban majority. There is no way to correct this flaw, either, since it requires the consent of 2/3 of both houses of Congress and ¾ of the states. This will create an intolerable situation for California, New York, Illinois, most if not all of New England, as well as Oregon and probably Washington. If we don’t break away because of Trump, we will have to do so because of this, sooner or later.

And yes, I’m aware of the conservative parts of CA, as well WA-OR east of the Cascades. I’ve spent enough time in the wackier corners of my state. That’s a problem we’re going to have to deal with, but the coast, which is both liberal and realist, will hold the power.

  • April 10, 2020