Meet the Californian independence movement

There have been several polls showing active support for Californian independence at around 33% of Californians, that’s over 13 million people!   Another ~15% or so are undecided, bringing the total number of people who are open to the idea to 48% of the State, or ~19 million people.

But who are these people?

In an effort to find out, the CNP posted a survey on our website in January asking supporters of independence to answer a range of demographic and ideological questions so we can get a better idea of what’s what.  As of this writing, 470 people have taken the survey, about half of them CNP members.

Since participation for the poll was self-selecting there is going to be some selection bias in the results – for example people who support the idea but aren’t actively involved in the movement are going to be under-represented while people who are more inclined towards activism in general will be over-represented.  So think of this as a survey of the activist movement, not necessarily the larger base of more passive supporters who would vote for independence but aren’t actively working towards it.

Where are independence supporters located?

The dots are per political party per zip code and the size of the dot represents the number of people in each group.  Orange dots are groups of CNP members, Green are Democrats, Blue are independents, and Yellow are Libertarians.

As you can see, virtually every city along the coast is represented, along with most of the central valley’s cities and even the sierra foothills.  Also notice the way party lines tend to cluster geographically – exactly the way we’d expect given California’s regional polarization.  You can start to see the shape of a winning coalition here with the CNP strong in more progressive areas, Democrats strong in centrist areas, and Libertarians in more conservative areas.

As for who’s joining the CNP,  60% of CNP members are former democrats, 19% are former independents, 12% are former Greens, 3.6% are former Libertarians, 2% are former Republicans, and the remainder are a scattering of various smaller mostly left groups.

The map of where independence supporters are from would be much larger – 1 in 4 immigrants in America is a Californian.  Add in the immigrants to California from other States and almost half of Californians were born somewhere else.  Unsurprisingly, people born here are more likely to support independence; but immigrants make up a solid quarter of the movement.  People born here who live here now make up just over 68% of supporters, and people born here and living elsewhere make up the remainder.

What do independence supporters believe?

So far, the media has portrayed the independence movement as a result of Donald Trump’s election, and it’s absolutely true that the movement gained a large bump in visibility and mainstream acceptance last November.  But if people expect this movement to go away in 4 years when the Americans (hopefully) elect a different president, they are fooling themselves.

Almost half of respondents said they have supported independence for more than a year with another 15% saying they started supporting independence recently, but not because of the election.  3% cited Hillary Clinton receiving the Democratic party nomination as the moment they gave up on American democracy – and in fact the CNP saw one of our early growth spurts after Sanders conceded the primary.

In all, about a third of independence supporters cited Donald Trump’s election as the catalyst. Even if half of them were to give up in four years there would still be a strong movement for independence.

Political affiliation and issues of passion

The movement clearly skews heavily towards progressives with smaller but significant Socialist, Liberal, and Centrist contingents.  There are a few self-identified conservatives, but so far not a huge number.

We asked all survey respondents to list their top 5 issues. One of the most frequent complaints we got from respondents is that they wanted to pick more, but we wanted to force them to prioritize.

Environmental issues came out at the top of the list and clearly one of the core concerns uniting the movement.  Defense and Universal Healthcare came in as second and third, followed by Education, Social Justice, and preserving wild spaces.

The biggest regional variation in responses was for the issue of improving rural representation, which has strong support in both conservative and left-leaning rural areas.  If Marin, Napa, Humboldt, and the Central Valley can all agree on one thing, this is it.

Women favored a pro-life position by a 2 to 1 margin, 30% listed pro-choice activism as a high priority compared to 14% who listed pro-life activism as a priority.   Men were evenly split on reproductive rights with 23% of men selecting each position and the remainder not seeing either side as a priority.

Note that CNP is pro-choice and has no plans to alter that stance, but that the strong social safety nets we endorse as part of our platform have been proven to reduce abortion rates in the Scandinavian countries where they have been widely adopted – and where abortion is free and easily available.

Gun control and firearms

Gun ownership and regulation is another issue that causes deep divides between California’s regions.  Just over 22% of independence supporters own firearms, which is only marginally higher than the 20% ownership rate across California.

Not owning guns doesn’t translate into wanting to ban guns, however – less than 6% of respondents want a gun ban.  Almost 77% favor regulation of firearms, however, and that group is split down the middle on how tight that regulation should be.

Demographics

Race and ethnicity are always thorny.  We chose to break it down by ancestry and let respondents check as many boxes as applied to them – and as you might expect in California – a lot of people checked more than one box.

That has some key implications for how you read this chart – for example, a latino person with both Indigenous and European heritage would have checked both “Native North American” and “European” and be represented in both.  Most Californios measure our ethnicity in fractions so we felt this was the best way to represent our diversity.

Primary Language

For this question we asked people what languages are spoken in the home.  This question was added to the survey part way through so only about half of respondents had the opportunity to answer it.  As expected, English is by far the dominant language, followed by Spanish.

Gender

We decided to frame this question by asking people their preferred pronoun, so a trans person would be listed using their preferred gender identity.

Across all respondents on this question just under 70% preferred masculine pronouns and 28% preferred feminine, the remaining 2% are nonbinary.

While many activist movements skew male (with the obvious and notable exception of the feminist movement), there’s no excuse for a gender gap this large. Women are particularly harmed by the current far-right administration in Washington and the independence movement needs to better address their concerns and represent their voices in order to grow.

It’s worth pointing out that filtering by political party shows that women who support independence are disproportionately likely to be Democrats, reflecting a reluctance to abandon that party.  Among Democrats the gender split is still present but less pronounced – men make up almost 55% of respondents and women 40% with non-binary folks making up the rest.  For the CNP this should be a call to action – we need to do a better job speaking to, recruiting, and empowering women in order to build a party that can claim to represent all Californians.

Sexual orientation

In terms of sexuality, we originally left this field as a fill-in-the-blank and then standardized the options once it became obvious that most people were providing fairly standard answers.

As expected, straight folks make up the majority but are under-represented relative to their share of the larger population.  This is typical of activist groupings and likely reflects the fact that institutionalized homophobia makes people who are not heterosexual more likely to engage in activism.

Faith and Religion

Atheists and agnostics are radically over-represented relative to their share of the larger population, perhaps reflecting a distrust of institutionalized authority and a greater willingness to disregard tradition.  It is likely no surprise that their ideological forbearers, Deists, were similarly over-represented during the American revolution.

Setting atheists aside, the breakdown is about what you’d expect in California.  Christians come in a close second with a near-even split between Catholics and Protestants.  Taken together they are roughly tied with “other”.  The fact that “other” attracted so many votes means we have room to improve on future versions of this survey and will need to add additional options.

The smallest group is Muslims (the yellow dot) with 0.7% of the total.  While no precise numbers exist for the number of muslims in California, the US total is 1% of the population and we would expect California to have significantly more than that because so many muslims work in our tech industries.  Given the significant discrimination that the Muslim community in California is currently experiencing, there is likely an opportunity to grow this number through better outreach.

Education

In terms of education, 97% of independence supporters age 25 and above* have at least some college, 65% have at least a 4-year degree, and 27.25% have a Masters or higher.  Relative to the general population, people who support independence are significantly better educated.

*We only counted responses from people 25 and over since most people under that age won’t have had a chance to complete college yet.

Should CNP support a ballot initiative?

This survey is now closed – thanks to everyone who participated.  

Overall, the vast majority of respondents, both CNP members and others, wanted us to support a ballot initiative that started by working toward greater autonomy and created a roadmap to independence over the long term.  That’s exactly what the new ballot initiative does and we are proud to endorse that initiative.  We will gather signatures while working on our ongoing voter registration drive.

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Recent changes in the landscape of the independence movement have opened up the possibility for a new ballot initiative on Californian independence.

Since we know this is an issue that people feel deeply about, we put together this survey to give the larger independence movement – not just CNP members – a chance to weigh in on the approach they would support and whether / how CNP should participate.

Please consider also filling out our longer survey on values, priorities, and demographics so we can keep track of whether we are meeting our goals of diversity and inclusiveness.

Californian values: a shared dream

This speech on Californian values and what that means was delivered by Jed Wheeler, our Vice Chairperson, at our March 2017 working convention.  It summarizes our goals and strategy over the next year as we register voters and build the movement for Californian independence.

My fellow Californians,

I want to start by thanking each of you for being here today, particularly the folks who flew or drove hella far or endured financial hardships to be here.  (I apologize for those of you not from the Bay Area, but as an Oaklander I had to include the word “hella” in my speech at least once!)

We are gathered here today because of a shared dream, a dream of a nation where our voices are heard and our values represented in the policies of our government. A nation that would never ban people because of their religion or tear apart families with mass deportations. A nation whose military does not engage in wars of aggression and rain bombs on other people’s children – children whose lives are every bit as precious as my little girl’s – while border guards turn away refugees. A nation where no one goes bankrupt or loses their home due to medical bills when they get sick and everyone has access to world-class healthcare. Remember that even under Obamacare, medical costs are still the leading cause of bankruptcy. If that’s the best we can hope for as part of America, then America’s best is not good enough for California!

We want a nation that takes real concrete action to mitigate climate change and that invests in the infrastructure needed to adapt and prepare for the changes we cannot stop. Where our forests and national parks are protected instead of being sold off to the highest bidder. Where no one is homeless, left out in the cold amidst incredible wealth. A nation where all people are equal before the law and police brutality and racial profiling are a thing of the past. And a nation where a child from East Oakland or rural Humboldt County has the same chance to learn and actualize their potential that children who come from wealthier backgrounds do.

I could go on, but I think you’ve got the point. You’ve all read our platform after all! When we talk about Californian values, this is what we mean.  This is the goal we are all working for.

When I wrote the first draft of that platform last year (and it’s important to note that many other people were involved in refining that first draft and adding their ideas, research, and passion to make it the document it is today) I could not have imagined the incredible upswell we’ve seen in support for this movement over the last few months. We have gone from a small but determined movement to one whose central idea – the independence of the Republic of California – is now shared by more than 13 million of our fellow Californians. That’s an incredibly powerful rejection of America’s bigotry and endorsement of our right to choose our own future.

Independence, however, is not enough on its own. And I have to emphasize this! There are plenty of people who would take an independent California and turn it into a playground for the super-wealthy, a place where the worst excesses of America’s me-first ethos run rampant. Where Sacramento continues to fail our poorest and most vulnerable people in urban and rural areas alike while our schools and infrastructure crumble around us. That’s not the future I want for our country!

A better California is possible, don’t ever doubt it! And that’s why we need to not just be the Party for independence, but a party for all Californians and a party that represents the best of the Californian ethos and spirit.

We are here today to work for independence, but more than that we are here to build that dream, the dream of a nation we can be proud of. And that’s a dream we do not have to wait for independence to start building. That’s why we’re talking about universal healthcare, for example, today. And that’s why it is so vitally important that we build the CNP into a real political party that can fight for our future, win elections, and build a better future for our kids here and now, while we work for independence over the long term.

We have an unprecedented opportunity. The Republican establishment in California has collapsed in California – discredited by their embrace of white nationalism in one of the most diverse nations on the planet. They now account for only 28.9% of registered voters – less than the 31% who already support independence. Their collapse leaves California with only 1 viable party in a system designed for two parties.

Now we, of course, want to switch to Proportional Representation and a multi-party system – something we can do before independence – but for now, democracy demands two functional parties at an absolute minimum.  Millions of Californians who are disgusted with the spinelessness and corruption of many Democrats have no credible opposition party that they can support instead. We will be that opposition! And once in office our candidates will work across the aisle whenever and wherever the Democrats are willing to do the right thing and fight them relentlessly when they choose the wrong side. And, in doing so, we will demonstrate our commitment to California and to our ideals, win the trust of California’s people, and win the democratic mandate we need to call for a mutually recognized and legally binding referendum on independence.

This will not be easy! All the work we’ve done up to this point is nothing compared to the work ahead. But Californians are known all over the world for our ability to do the impossible. That’s why we attract half of America’s investment capital and are the epicenter of the entire planet’s technology startup ecosystem. California has a lot of exports, but our most important export is this – we export the future!

So how do we get there?

The first step is we have to qualify as a political party. Doing that will make us the first pro-independence party in California’s history to qualify for the ballot, make the CNP the face of the independence movement around the world, and prove to the press and everyone else that this is a serious movement. It also means our candidates are automatically qualified and open up a huge amount of funding and data that we can use to grow the party from there. Now in normal years that would require around 50,000 registered voters, but California’s higher than normal turnout in November’s election has raised that bar a bit to 63,000.  We are a long way off from that goal! We don’t know the exact number of people registered with us yet, we’re still waiting on the Secretary of State’s office to respond to our request for an updated count, but even if every single person who Likes us on Facebook or Follows us on Twitter was registered, we’d still only be about 20% of the way there.

That’s a hell of a lot further than we were last June when we held our first leadership elections and our effort to build a viable political party began! But we have a long way to go between now and next January, which is our cutoff to qualify in this election cycle. Of course if we don’t quite make it, we’ll try again next year and we’ll keep trying until we get there. But I would really like to start 2018 as a member of the only unashamedly pro-California party on the ballot. So if you’re wondering what you can do to move the cause of independence forward, registering voters is the answer.

I want to pause to recognize those of my fellow Californians who do not have US citizenship and thus cannot register but are here to fight for our country. We see you. We appreciate you. You matter! And in an independent Republic of California there will be a path to citizenship for all Californians!

Now, for those of us who have the privilege of being able to vote, who here has changed your voter registration to CNP, can I get a show of hands?

Who here has gotten your spouse or partner to register? What about your parents, your friends, or your neighbors? By a show of hands, how many people have gotten at least one other person to register? And how many have gotten 5? Or 10?

I know these conversations are difficult, but this right here, going out and talking to our friends, families, and neighbors, is how we will transform this movement into California’s next major political party. Politics are tribal, parties vote for the people their families and friends vote for. So if we want to succeed we need to gather all our various tribes and have those difficult conversations. If every CNP member today got 10 people to register and those people each got 10 more to register, we’d be qualified as a party with a huge margin to spare.

Now many of you are already familiar with what I’m about to say, but I want to make sure we’re all clear on the answers to these common questions you’ll encounter as you’re out registering voters:

1 – Registering CNP does not mean you cannot vote for candidates from other parties. In fact, most of us will likely vote for other parties in most races since it will take time to recruit viable candidates of our own. In some races we may even cross-endorse if there is a candidate from another party who shares our values and is running a viable campaign.

2 – Registering is free, takes 5 minutes, and can be completed online. Don’t just ask people to register, walk them through the process and help them do it.
And, for all those skeptics you encounter, let them know you can be a skeptic on independence and still register CNP. This is a party that will fight for California by every peaceful and legal means available to us here and now. If they agree with the other 9 points in our platform, there is no other party that will fight to move those things forward as hard as we will. Get that person to register!

3 – You don’t have to be an urban liberal or progressive to support the CNP. Unlike the democrats, we are absolutely committed to representing rural and urban Californians both. That means working for water security for our farmers, stopping rural hospital closures, investing in schools for our rural communities, and addressing the host of other issues that currently fall on deaf ears in Sacramento.  This is a movement for all of California and we all have a stake in each other’s future.  It’s time to put aside hyper-partisan rhetoric of the Democrats and Republicans and start working together.

4 – Everyone who shares our values and vision is welcome in the CNP. Our entire leadership team is keenly aware that we need to work very hard to increase our diversity. California is one of the most diverse nations in the world and that diversity must be represented in our candidates for office and our party leadership. In the meantime, the CNP is absolutely committed to working for social justice and fighting for the interests of all Californians.

5 – One of my least-favorite questions we get is people asking (or just asserting) that we are led from Russia. When you hear this please politely but firmly state that we have no connection whatsoever to any foreign government and that the articles claiming the independence movement are led from Russia are about a separate organization to which we have no ties. In point of fact, the leadership of the CNP is all of you here in this room. We are all the leader!

At a fundamental level this movement is about the people of California rejecting the mental colonization that has told us – in defiance of all evidence – that we are incapable of governing ourselves and need people in Washington DC to run things for us. You can hear echoes of it in the people who call for California to join Canada – a nation with a significantly smaller population and economy than us – instead of working for independence. Why in the world would we trade one distant capital for another? What exactly would that accomplish? I am here to tell you that we – the people of California – are more than capable of governing ourselves and forging our own destiny. And when I think about who should be leading the charge I look to all of you – not DC, not Ottawa, and certainly not Moscow! This is – and must be – a movement of, by, and for the people of California.

Let me just leave you with this last thought.

History has pivot points. There are moments in time – rarely – when the world can change and we are living in one of those moments. I heard someone say the other day that it’s like living during the fall of the Roman Empire, but with smart phones – and it’s true!

We have an opportunity to change the world. Old systems, old ways of thinking, old identities are falling away. Millions of people who last year would have called themselves “Americans” would instead answer “Californian” today. And we have a chance now to open a dialogue about what that means. What do we mean when we say Californian values? What are our ideals, our dreams, and our aspirations? What is our place in the world and among the family of nations? Will we use our strength and our power to give a voice to the voiceless? Will we provide a sanctuary for the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free that America has turned its back on? Will we stand for humanity and for the millions of other species threatened by climate change? And will we create a nation where no one has to live in fear because of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or religion? Will we finally recognize that we are bound together, that we need each other, that we all have a stake in each other’s future – from Klamath to San Diego?

We can no longer accept the me-first ethos that has driven such incredible divisions among our cousins to the east. Starting here, now, today, I would urge you all to start looking for ways that it can be all of us first. All of us together. All of us, Californians.

to help us fight for California and Californian values!

 

Why Rural California Votes Red, and Why We Should Listen

A tremendous amount of ink has been spilled about the recent American elections and the split between urban and rural areas. As tempting as it is to rant about everything the Democrats did wrong along the way, instead I want to talk a bit about why Californians voted the way they did and what that means for our future.  This is the first of several posts that will address that topic.

At the end of the day, two thirds of California’s voters checked the box for Clinton – some enthusiastically and some less so. Like previous elections, this one came down to urban vs rural. Rural Californians, rightly disgusted at the way they have been ignored and betrayed by Democrats in Sacramento and Washington DC both, overwhelmingly opted to come out and vote for someone who portrayed himself as an outsider who would listen to them. The fact that millions of people who knew their votes would make no difference came out to vote against the Democrat speaks volumes to the levels of dissatisfaction. We need to firmly denounce the condescending attitude that so many Democrats have towards rural voters and recognize that there are real issues here that need to be addressed.

So what are the issues? There are many, but in this installment we’ll touch on just a few.

We’ll start with logging and fishing vs. environmental concerns. While California has strict regulation on private lands, federally owned lands (with 20 million acres of National Forest the federal government is by far the biggest landowner) are managed according to federal standards. Up until 1990 that meant clearcutting and replacing forests with monoculture tree plantations that are particularly susceptible to wildfire and beetles, provide very limited habitat, and experience massive soil erosion while the newly planted trees are small. That eroded soil ends up in the rivers, destroying fisheries. This has been absolutely devastating to our fishing industry and destroyed the river ecosystems where salmon spawn.  Faced with collapsing fisheries and the inability of the State to regulate logging on federal land, Sacramento responded by shutting down much of the remaining fishing. Diverting water from the rivers to feed farms has been the final nail in the coffin for many river ecosystems and means that 27 years later most of our fisheries have never recovered – and neither has our fishing industry.

A competent government could have prevented this mess by adopting appropriate regulation up front. Turning over federal lands to California (as we call for in the CNP platform) and adopting sustainable logging practices would safeguard our forests and rivers while maintaining jobs over the long term. Instead, short-sighted officials in DC and Sacramento made a mess of things and left rural Californians holding the bag.

Now, let’s look at agriculture, or more specifically, the water our farmers require. For farmers, soaring water costs driven by protracted droughts have led to an almost annual debate over whether we should divert ever-growing amounts of water from the rivers. Doing so would be, at most, a temporary solution for our farms; but it’s hard to convince someone whose farm is teetering on the edge of solvency that fish are more important than their ability to feed their kids – even if the survival of those fish is critical to someone else’s ability to do the same.

“Opening up the water,” as Trump proposed in one of his campaign speeches, would only have a marginal impact on the water available to farmers and would guarantee that our fisheries never recover. There are so many other options. For instance, the CNP proposes interest-free loans for farmers who want to upgrade to drip irrigation and other technologies that could save billions of gallons of water – and billions in water costs – if adopted across California’s vast farmlands. There are many other potential solutions to add additional water supply as well, from atmospheric dehumidifiers to desalination to just plain fixing the corroded network of pipes that move water around the state and lose millions of gallons a year.

Rural California – and rural America – goes “red” because the Democrats have failed to speak for them or represent their interests and voting for Republicans is the only recourse available. That’s not a mistake the CNP intends to repeat!

California can continue to be an inspiration to the world

Throughout my time as the California National Party’s press secretary I’ve spoken to journalists from all over California, the United States, and the world. Through these conversations, I hope to persuade the media — and by extension, the readers that trust them — that independence is the best path forward for California.

Of course, this is a tall order when advancing such a bold (but by no means novel) idea as Californian independence. The reporters, editors, and producers I’ve talked to run the gamut from friendly and curious to doubtful and even hostile, but the one thing they almost all have in common is that they feel independence is impossible, or at least highly implausible.

Not that I blame our media friends for being skeptical. After all, we’re an unorthodox upstart advocating an unorthodox solution — it’d be strange if they didn’t doubt us! But it does mean that before we can even begin convincing our fellow Californians on the merits of independence, we must first convince the media of its feasibility.

The one exception to this rule has been the international press. Reporters from Europe, Australia, and South America have reached out to us, and the articles they’ve produced display an open-mindedness, fairness, and positivity of a caliber I’ve yet to encounter stateside. And I believe I know why.

For I’ve also noticed that these articles are invariably accompanied by photographs of California’s most iconic people and places — the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood sign, Arnold Schwarzenegger — and point out that California is both the tech and entertainment capital of the world. I don’t feel this is a coincidence.

California holds a very special place in the world’s imagination. Mention California, and people — even if they’ve never visited — visualize sunny beaches lined with palm trees, giant redwood forests, tumbleweeds blowing across crimson-skied deserts, cable cars climbing foggy, rolling hills, and (of course) Disneyland. My wife (a fifth-generation Californian) talks about how when traveling abroad, people’s eyes light up whenever she tells them she’s from California. Mention California’s history and people’s minds travel from the gold rush through the birth of the film industry, from Haight-Ashbury in the 60s to the tech miracles of Silicon Valley. The Californian Dream is imbedded in humanity’s consciousness, and people worldwide know it’s the place to go to fulfill your wildest aspirations.

And now, in the dark days of 2017, when a new breed of violent, reactionary nationalism has engulfed democracies in Europe and America, California stands out as one of liberal democracy’s last remaining bastions — a place that not only embodies and nurtures progressive values like freedom, equality, inclusion, and social (as well as environmental) consciousness, but also has the means and strength to defend these values against the authoritarian assault emerging from the White House.

This world of ours, distraught by a global resurgence of extremism, is pinning its hopes on California to save not just itself, but also democratic values. As America — once the world’s guardian of freedom and progress — sees its institutions, ideals, and integrity crumble under a big, orange thumb, people worldwide are rooting for us to assume the mantle as the model and influence for the values we hold dear.

For if we Californians become independent, we will have it in our power to preserve these values. We can provide for our citizens and our land without interference from thousands of miles away. We can set an example in areas like immigration policy, trade policy, and civil liberties. And once we take our seat at the community of nations, we can positively influence the world by being a leader in climate action, equality, and innovation — hell, we can even launch our own damn satellites, as Governor Brown proclaimed.

The world knows this — which is why we don’t need to convince international media that independence is possible. It’s almost beside the point, in their view — the world wants us to succeed, because the world needs us to succeed. We are the world’s greatest hope against the rising tide of oppression.

So, fellow Californians: when we get tired and exhausted during the fight for independence, when we feel worn down by our work and by the upcoming resistance from the status quo, when the Trump Administration has shocked and awed our spirit and our sanity, remember that we are not alone. We can take heart knowing that we have friends and allies in every corner of the Earth who are watching us closely, crossing their fingers, and supporting us however they can.

Even though they may be far away, they are still standing with us as we bring about the ultimate California Dream: a free, democratic, and independent California Republic.

Remembering Past Lessons

Editor’s note: While this blog was originally submitted in early January, the recent focus on immigrant targeting and deportation by the Trump administration makes this a very timely post, and underscores the California National Party’s commitment to a sensible, humane immigration and citizenship policy.

 

“No one should ever be locked away simply because they share the same race, ethnicity, or religion as a spy or terrorist.  If that principle was not learned from the internment of Japanese Americans, then these are very dangerous times for our democracy” – Fred Korematsu

January 30th was Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in California.

Fred Korematsu was a native son of California, born in Oakland on January 30th, 1919.  Korematsu was required to report for internment during WWII, along with 120,000 others of Japanese descent (most of them America citizens) after Franklin Roosevelt signed executive order 9066. Fred defied this order, was arrested and convicted as a result and eventually incarcerated, along with his family, at the internment camp for Japanese Americans in Topaz, Utah.

Korematsu appealed his incarceration up to the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Korematsu v United States contesting the constitutionality of the internment of US citizens, a case that ruled against him. The ruling held that the ‘need to protect against espionage outweighed the rights of Japanese-American citizens’.  Korematsu’s conviction for evading internment was eventually overturned in 1983, nearly 40 years later, on the basis of government misconduct; key documents were discovered that intelligence agencies withheld from the Supreme Court that showed Japanese-Americans had committed no treasonous acts to justify internment.

Fred dedicated his life to activism and continued to speak out against government abuses of civil rights.  In 1998 President Clinton award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Just a little context on my personal interest in Fred Korematsu Day. My family (grandparents) immigrated from Russia via China and Hawaii and eventually to San Francisco where there was a Russian community on Potrero Hill. That was a community of White Russians that had to flee during the Russian revolution. When I was young in the 1960’s my parents and extended family talked about the fear they had because of the cold war and any possible backlash to us. If war were to break out, my parents felt that what happened to the Japanese-American citizens could happen to us. In school, because of my name, kids used to call me a, “F****** commie Russian.”  So I completely understand the fear Muslims and others have today.  No one should live in fear because of their race, ethnic background or religion.

Fred Korematsu Day is a reminder of that.

California was the first state to officially recognize January 30th as Fred Korematsu Day.  Today, 6 states have followed California’s lead and have also recognized Fred Korematsu Day…Utah, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

I have only shared a very short thought on Fred Korematsu, he has an entire legacy that was barely touched upon.  To read more about Fred Korematsu, native son of California, take a look at http://www.korematsuinstitute.org/fred-t-korematsu-lifetime/

Reflections on Presidents Day

REFLECTIONS ON PRESIDENTS DAY

“ Understanding the spirit of our institutions is to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.”  Abraham Lincoln, May 17, 1859 Letter to Theodore Canisius

To truly observe Presidents Day we are obliged to reflect on one of the most influential men in our country’s history, sixteenth president Abraham Lincoln. Centuries after his presidency, he remains a shining beacon of strength, compassion and resilience. Admired for his strong work ethic and extraordinary skill to unite the people with his honest character, Abraham Lincoln was a president who imposed policies with a conscience.

The California National Party (CNP) also strives to implement “policies with a conscience.” through an inclusive platform that promotes prosperity while protecting civil rights and social justice for all Californians regardless of race, religion, orientation, gender, or class. The CNP supports school reform to ensure the equality of opportunity for our young people, California’s high-tech economy, and a judicial system that reforms and eliminates police brutality while supporting the majority of officers who are doing their best to serve our communities. The CNP advocates a fair, common-sense immigration policy that allows people to come to California and work within a framework of enforceable laws. Additionally, the CNP supports a universal health care system that can cover all Californians and provides significant savings for businesses and individuals.

California can utilize its strengths in diversity to uplift and include all citizens in the golden state to grow California’s economy, super-charge our key industries, and ensure our economic future.

The CNP will protect and cultivate our young minds to greatness and utilize the wisdom of seniors, and stands with our indigenous communities and corporations to protect our land, oceans and air to better serve our health and wellness.

Now, more than ever, California is ready to make a move to independence. With independence, California’s 39 million citizens will raise the iconic “California Republic” flag with pride. Our great nation state of California will serve as a model of strength through conscious policy and inclusivity to the rest of the world. With your support, California will uplift the needs and desires of all her citizens, and embody the spirit of one of America’s greatest leaders—while following his principles to form a new nation, conceived in liberty.

(Artist: Khariyanul Fathoni)

 

A Velvet Divorce

I am a Californian.

For fifty years, starting with Edmund Brown Sr, I have supported Democratic candidates in state and national races. This election, however, with the victory of the most odious man to ever emerge on the American political scene, has been a game changer from me. I changed my California voter registration to California National Party.

Supporting California Independence is a long shot, and one I don’t believe will happen anytime soon (unless Trump really runs the American Republic into a ditch in his first term). However, California has shown itself to be a true progressive firewall, with its 62% vote for Clinton, its two-thirds Democratic Party super majority in the State Assembly and Senate, its fiery Governor Jerry Brown, and big-city mayors ready to defend undocumented or legal immigrants from deportation. I am supporting the campaign for independence because I think it will strengthen this statewide anti-Trump front.

A party touting independence doesn’t have to win full independence. It can achieve autonomy, control over resources and revenues, and political evolution — the Scots and Catalans have shown that. It can be another magnet for political action and attract the alienated who have lost faith in the national Democratic leadership.

The CNP is tiny right now, but it will grow. The party needs 50,000 voters to register to get legal status in the state, and all it means for me is that I can’t vote in Democratic primaries, which are now uncontested and meaningless anyway.

I believe Americans—and, more specifically, Californians—deserve more choices. The CNP can be an ally to the progressive Democratic and Green Party forces in California, and by standing up for regional interests, it can carve out a new political space and identity.

A new country? Not in my lifetime perhaps. But I first discussed this idea with other activists in the Sierra Club’s political action committees over 35 years ago, and now that it is happening, I’m in. I’m sure I’ll cast my vote for Democrats in the future when necessary. But for now, I am enjoying this velvet divorce.

Of War and Peace

It’s clearly stated in the introduction to the California National Party platform: “The CNP is committed to working – through peaceful and democratic means – toward a legally binding referendum on independence.”

The italics are mine, for emphasis. Five words that are more than an overarching description of our fundamental philosophy. I see them as our Rules of Engagement.

Because make no mistake about it: we are at war.

We’re at war, first and foremost, with a system that has marginalized our vote; looted our coffers; scorned, ridiculed and actively fought against our values. Ironically, it’s a system that also understands how vitally important we are to its prosperity, and will fight tooth and nail to oppose our long-term goal of independence.

But there are multiple fronts in this war.

We’re also at war with apathy, resignation, cynicism and loss of hope. The fatalism rampant in too many Californians today. “Hey, this is just the way it is, what can you do?”

To fight that war, our marching orders are to rekindle the fire in the bellies of our fellow Californians, stir their passions, make them believe—make them know—that this fight for a new party, a pragmatic and progressive party, isn’t a quixotic march towards a vanishing horizon. It’s attainable, it’s desirable, and it’s well worth the struggle.

We must also hold our own against angry, vitriolic naysayers. And in case you hadn’t already noticed, they’re everywhere. There is no shortage of people happy to crow that this movement is ridiculous, misguided, naïve, vindictive, even treasonous. A crackpot scheme pursued by starry-eyed leftist snowflake libtard nutjobs. They’ll spit venom and fury, they’ll snarl “Good riddance!” (Or as former Congressman and King of Whacktown Joe Walsh Tweeted, “I know California is a state & we have to count it, but if you remove CA, Trump won the popular vote by 1.4 million”).  Like an abusive spouse, in the next breath they’ll spew the reasons we can’t go, they’ll never let us go, we’re stuck with them forever.

The battle against the naysayers won’t be won by emotional confrontation, or, unfortunately, by logical discourse. The sad, inevitable truth is that a certain people simply won’t be swayed. They’ll fight to the end, in the face of all evidence, in the face of incontrovertible facts, to shield against any threat to their worldview. That end will come as we simply crush them beneath the wheels of our relentless, plodding progress.

Finally, we’re at war with our own inertia. A body at rest tends to stay that way, and our bodies are no different. Initial enthusiasm wanes as the grind kicks in. Work, family and life intervenes, goals become foggy and distant, eventually vaporizing into a dream we once had.

This is a battle won by perseverance and discipline. In this, the nascent stages of our movement, “movement” is the operative word. We must take one step forward, today, tomorrow, every day. Fervor subsides, but determination must be unwavering.

So sure, we’ll fight the war on these and any other front through peaceful and democratic means. But we’ll fight with the spirit and strength of a warrior. Because this is war, our cause is just, and in the end, we will prevail.