As Donald Trump’s shock election victory reverberated around Silicon Valley late on Tuesday night, some high-profile technologists were already calling for California to secede from the United States.
The broader west coast is a stronghold for the Democrats, and significantly more politically progressive and racially diverse than large swathes of central US. California is also the biggest economy in the US and the sixth largest in the world with a gross state product of $2.496tn for 2015, according to the IMF.
The campaign for independence – variously dubbed Calexit, Califrexit and Caleavefornia – has been regarded as a fringe movement. But support was revitalized by influential Uber investor and Hyperloop co-founder Shervin Pishevar, in a series of tweets announcing his plans to fund a “legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation” – posted even before the full results were in.
A few hours later, Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Trump, and Pishevar told CNBC that he was serious about Calexit. “It’s the most patriotic thing I can do,” he said, adding that the resulting nation would be called New California.
“We can re-enter the union after California becomes a nation. As the sixth largest economy in the world, the economic engine of the nation and provider of a large percentage of the federal budget, California carries a lot of weight,” he said.
Pishevar was supported by others in Silicon Valley. Angel investor Jason Calacanis said that California succession would be simple in the wake of both Brexit and a Trump win.
Evan Low, a Democrat serving in the California state assembly, said that he’d support the introduction of a bill to start the independence process.
Pishevar’s comments add weight to the Yes California campaign, which launched in late 2015 calling to create a free, independent California Republic. Led by political activist Louis Marinelli, Yes California proposes a 2019 referendum, following the model adopted by Catalonia to gain independence from Spain.
The proposal illustrates the technology industry’s frustration with Trump over his repeated criticisms of Silicon Valley companies. The Republican leader wants Apple to stop making phones in China, thinks Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post to exert political power and avoid paying taxes, and claimed that Mark Zuckerberg’s push for specialist immigration would actually decrease opportunities for American women and minorities.
Trump’s lone public supporter in Silicon Valley was Facebook board member and PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel, and even he acknowledged that the country faced an enormous challenge. “We’re going to need all hands on deck,” he said in a statement to USA Today. “He has an awesomely difficult task, since it is long past time for us to face up to our country’s problems.”
This article was written by Olivia Solon in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 9th November 2016 19.52 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010