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There will be ''a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years.''
Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC senior political analyst


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jeff Questions (and answers)
about secession

New California Republic
organizer Jeff Morrissette

Who are you?
Iím nobody. I havenít run for political office. Iíve worked on the periphery of some political campaigns in the past, thatís about all. I donít really have any connections. Iím just one person who is concerned about the direction we are going. I think there are a lot of people who feel the same way and now we are all trying to figure out what to do next. I donít think ultimately that this is just about Democrats getting together in a room and trying to come up with a strategy that will outfox Karl Rove in 2008. It is much bigger than that and I think it is time for us to think bigger—secession, for example.


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Why did you start the New California Republic?
Everyone was right when it was said this was the most important presidential election of our lifetime. It was an election that is likely to have major repercussions for generations ahead. We can either choose to roll over and surrender to the religious right or we can talk seriously about moving in another direction. Secession may not be the only option, but it is one option. When we look at the electoral map and see all of that red in the middle and south and the blue pushed to either coast, that says something and we might as well be realistic about it.

What do you hope to achieve?
I am interested in furthering a dialogue. Ideas spring forth from dialogue. They may be bad ideas or good ideas, but history has a way of sorting out the good from the bad. The thing we have to ask ourselves is what will the map of North America look like 100 years from now or 200 years from now? Are we moving forward or looking backward?

Why is California independence worth considering?
If we cannot come to a national consensus on key social issues will we see a move toward federalism where states are granted greater latitude in determining what kind of society is best for their citizens? I'm not sure that's possible. If the religious conservatives have their way in stacking the federal judiciary, the Supreme Court, the Congress, the White House, there is going to be some kind of backlash. That backlash could be secession or it could be something else. One thing is certain—the people who have fought for a womanís right to choose, people who have fought for civil rights and civil liberties, gays and lesbians who are fighting for equal recognition are not going to go away quietly without a fight.

How is this similar or different to the Civil War?
First, we are not in any way advocating any kind of violent uprising. Second, the secessionist movement in the south was for the wrong moral reasons and I believe this is for the right moral reasons.

Will the talk of secession diminish our influence in national politics?
I donít think so. Remember it was the South who attempted to secede from the United States 150 years ago and today the South probably has the greatest degree of influence in national politics. The only successful Democratic candidates for President in the last 50 years have been from the South: Johnson (Texas), Carter (Georgia), and Clinton (Arkansas). Mathematically, California (the countryís largest state) is becoming less and less relevant. Based on the last election there were 16 so-called red states that combined have a smaller population than California. Yet, the electoral votes of those red states come to a combined total of 81, compared to just 55 for California. If you live in Wyoming your vote is basically four times more powerful than a voter in California. I guess that's why Dick Cheney was so proud about delivering his state's three electoral votes. We either have to change this imbalance of power by adjusting the electoral system or consider more drastic measures—i.e. redraw the map.

But is secession practical?
From an economic standpoint, no one doubts that California couldnít stand on its own. It is already the worldís fifth largest economy. You could argue away secession by wondering if it is practical. What are we going to do about a postal service, a military, transportation, etc? When our nation declared its independence from Britain there were vast numbers of colonists who wondered how they could survive without the support of the English throne. I donít think there is any question that California could survive. Californiaís standing is proportionally greater in relation to the current federal government than the 13 colonies were to Britain. Besides, the question for the early American revolutionaries was not about whether or not it was practical—it was a question of ideas, freedom, self-determination. And if we continue to drift toward a government that tells a woman what she can or cannot do with her body—or tells two people who they can or cannot sleep with or build a life with—there is going to be a new revolution.

Wouldnít California secession weaken U.S. foreign policy?
I donít necessarily think that is a bad thing. Given our current foreign policy where we are perceived in the world as the big, bad bully on the block a diminished U.S. foreign policy would be a good thing. If we werenít running around the globe waving the stars and stripes and proclaiming we were fighting on Godís side we would be less of a target and, therefore, actually safer. You could argue that we would have greater homeland security.

Why do you think California is more progressive?
A remarkable distinction in the way California is moving vis-à-vis the federal government is on stem cell research. The federal government should be taking the lead on this issue. California voters boldly decided to bypass the prevailing conservative sentiment of the current administration and move us forward. The people of California are not going to surrender to a nation created in the image of the likes of Gary Bauer, Dr. James Dobson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and others who have bullied the Bush Administration into following the policies that are leading this country into a cultural recession.

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