by Christopher Westley
How to Be President
Mr. Governor-elect, I hope you are enjoying your honeymoon. They
say it is not going to last very long and will end when you confront
the kingpins in the state assembly. They say that is when politics
as usual will begin again and the gloss will fade from your star.
say many things. But we both know that "they" are often
wrong. (Of course, if you cared about conventional opinion, you’d
probably be an unknown civil service worker today back home in Graz.)
that popular canard about how you can never be president. They say
that despite your obvious charisma, optimism, drive, and seemingly
unlimited campaign funds, you have risen as far as a foreign-born
American can in politics by becoming governor of the most populous
state. According to James Madison’s silly Constitutional provision,
the hated Gray Davis can still make a run for the White House, while
the ceiling to your ambitions leave you stuck in Sacramento. The
are ways around this problem. Some
are recommending, apparently with a straight face, an Arnold
amendment to the Constitution allowing the foreign born to run for
president. The odds of such an amendment happening are extremely
low, and even if it did come about, it would likely exempt current
officeholders. Such is the straw-grasping of delusional neoconservatives
convinced that the inexorable movement of history is to replace
the dominance of big government Democrats with that of big government
Republicans, and that a pesky little thing like the Constitution
should not stand in the way.
more realistic way around this problem would involve embracing a
reform recognized and endorsed by the framers of the Constitution
itself, one that has proven to be a legitimate trend in Europe over
the last two decades. This solution, of course, is the secession
of the state of California from the United States, clearing the
way for you to become president of a free and independent republic.
why not? Such a development would surely reflect the spirit of our
times. The states that used to be part of the former Soviet Union
are much better off today for splitting from Moscow, while Czechs
and Slovaks coexist peacefully. Closer to home, the break of the
San Fernando Valley from the city of Los Angeles is progressing
without a hitch, very much to the chagrin of the political establishment
but also very much in the same fruitful way that other local secessions
have progressed in several other localities around the U.S.
yourself touched upon secession’s logic during the recall campaign
when you observed that for every dollar the feds take in income
tax they give back only 77 cents in the form of federal spending.
This means that besides subsidizing special interests in your own
state, California taxpayers also subsidize special interests in
the rest of the country, especially in the 33 states that pay out
less in federal income taxes than they get back (according
to data from the Northeast-Midwest Institute).
a great selling point this would be in those Bush-hating and vote-rich
centers of Chico, Berkeley, and Santa Monica. If California seceded,
then no longer could its wealth be doled out to important swing
states to bolster the Republican takeover of federal politics at
home or neocon wars abroad.
more, if it is true that Californians prefer large government at
all levels, then they could have it if they seceded. The current
levels of federal, state, and local spending could be maintained
following secession with millions of dollars left over. All those
who currently depend on other people’s money for their income, whether
military officers or California Highway Patrol cops, med school
doctors or public school principals, and even social workers or
garbage collectors, could continue to benefit from wealth transfers
in a California Republic.
they should is another matter entirely. In a truly free California one
that does not mimic the socialist Austria from which you escaped such
people would be set free to ply their trade in the private sector,
using capital that flowed to them on a voluntary basis, and not
as a result of conscription. The fact that their immediate jobs
would be secure makes selling secession much easier.
once these selling points are made to the net tax consumers, selling
secession to the rest of the state to the net taxpayers would be
much easier. They would easily see the benefits that would result
when California became an independent entity, as clearly as residents
in the San Fernando Valley saw in independence from the city of
Los Angeles. Private property in California is already made insecure
by the machinations of both the state Franchise Tax Board and of
the federal IRS, and secession would mean that overnight one of
these overweening and illegitimate bureaucracies would be out of
taxpayers’ lives. While secession would often transfer the source
of many ill-effects from Washington to Sacramento, it would at least
make the agents of government easier to observe.
separated from California would clearly benefit the remaining 49
states as well. Fences can make for good neighbors, and secession
would effectively fence in California’s regulatory burden from the
rest of the country. Such a barrier is sorely needed.
you know that the primary opposition to the European Union in Europe
lies on the assumption that some regions can benefit in relative
terms when they can impose regulations on others. The same reasoning
applies within the United States today, where high regulatory states
like California weaken the property rights within their borders
and face a drain of capital and labor to lower regulatory states
such as Nevada and Arizona. To stop this outflow, a state can either
repeal onerous regulations or force them on its neighbors.
California’s connection to Washington too often causes it to resort
to the latter solution. Secession would cut Sacramento’s cord with
Washington and keep California-style collectivism at bay. The resulting
inability to export bad policies would increase the likelihood that
such policies are short-lived. Such an outcome would be good for
California business that would otherwise exit the state, and good
for businesses in the remaining 49 states that would otherwise confront
a better-funded and more activist federal Leviathan.
Governor-elect, let’s face it: When you came to the Golden State
in the late sixties, you didn’t plan on trading one socialist state
for another. California doesn’t have to be like Austria, Sweden,
or Massachusetts. By breaking from the 20th century trend toward
centralizing power among large nation-states, it can be a prosperous
republic, free of the threats that accompany global empire while
a beacon of liberty to an increasingly divided and dangerous world.
no matter what they say, you could be its president.
[send him mail] teaches
economics at Jacksonville State University, Alabama.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com