Calexit: The 'Yes California' Independence Bid Returns on Valentine's Day to Divorce America

A ballot initiative in California is pushing for a "Calexit" where the state could secede from the rest of the United States. Reuters

No, President Donald Trump did not inspire California to secede from the union—but he sure made the proposal a whole lot more popular, says the Yes California Independence Campaign leader Marcus Ruiz Evans.

"Suddenly Trump gets elected and everyone wants to hear what we're saying. Suddenly we're not crazy," Evans told Newsweek. "Trump is not the problem; he is a symptom. We have said this from the beginning. What kind of people elect a man like that? What kind of people allow that person to run? He would never be a candidate and he would never be elected in California."

The push for California's exit from the U.S. started under President Barack Obama when Evans and his co-founder Louis Marinelli realized the California economy was losing a disproportionate amount of money to the federal government. He sensed a schism between the West Coast culture and the rest of America—the kind of "systemic problems" that meant the U.S. government was not good for California.

All citizen-led efforts for a state to split or secede from the United States have fallen short in modern U.S. history. The Calexit campaign led by Yes California will relaunch their ballot initiative on February 14. The corresponding slogan: "Valentine's Day in America sees the most divorces. Perfect time for us."

Despite the low chances, the desire for California to govern itself is familiar territory. In 2013, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper encouraged California to split into six states but failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. In 2014, the Calexit movement launched to make California a sovereign nation. The 2016 State of Jefferson resurgence sought to separate Northern California from the rest of the state through a legislative bill.

A rival movement—the creation of New California—led by Robert Paul Preston, aspires to create the nation's 51st state to provide better representation for the rural counties of California.

Related: What is New California? Rural Counties Want Independence From Tyrannical Government

In 2018, the Calexit movement will try to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in order to land on the ballot in 2019. The proposal would repeal sections of the state constitution that recognize the U.S. Constitution as the "supreme law of the land" and declare California an inseparable state.

"Every successful secession movement in modern times had a vote," Evans told Newsweek about his ballot push. "You cannot have a successful movement forward without saying definitively that this is what people want."

Even if they make it onto the ballot, the organization faces a few more hurdles. In order to be considered a legitimate declaration of independence, at least half of all registered California voters need to participate in the vote and 55 percent of voters must approve the initiative. In 2016, the state saw voter turnout exceeded 75 percent.

The Yes California campaign is calling for the state to leave the union before the 2020 presidential election, remarking on its website that Trump's possible second term will be determined by the rest of the country. Marinelli asks in the blog post: Can we depend on them to ensure the Republican leader does not remain in the White House? To many, the answer seems to be no.

"The Republican Party is dead in California. They killed themselves by backing Donald Trump," Evans told Newsweek. "There's a huge culture difference between Americans in California. That's very obvious. Even those who don't support Calexit understand that there really does seem to be a difference."