As It Happens

After Trump win 'Calexit' takes off — a campaign to make California its own republic

When the U.S. election results came in, so many Californians were left shocked at the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency. Now, 'Calexit' is growing: the movement to get California to secede from the U.S.
The proposed flag for the New California Republic. A campaign for California's succession has been making waves since Donald Trump won the U.S. election on Tuesday. Paul Holland, general partner at Foundation Capital in San Francisco, supports that campaign. (TWITTER/PROVIDED/FOUNDATION CAPITAL)
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California is, for the most part, not a Donald Trump-friendly zone. And now, entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are starting a campaign to help California gain independence from the rest of the United States. And, since Tuesday night the idea of "New California" or "Calexit," is winning support from some high-profile investors.

Protesters carry a paper head of President-elect Donald Trump during a protest in Los Angeles the day after the election. (KEITH BIRMINGHAM/THE PASADENA STAR-NEWS/AP)

Paul Holland is among them. He is General Partner at Foundation Capital, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. He spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off. Below is part of that conversation.

Carol Off: Mr. Holland, what would an independent California look like?

Paul Holland: Well, I think the concept of an independent California has been on people's minds for quite some time. In fact, if you go on to Google and search "If California..." the second thing that will come up is, "If California was a country." I think the Trump election victory has caused a sharpening of some of that opinion. But if California were a country today, it would be almost identical to France. It would be the 6th largest economy in the world. It would be a very diverse state. It's its own animal. And there's just something about the alchemy we've created here that has allowed us to create an unusually successful economy and society.

CO: It's a culture, isn't it? California is distinct in more ways than others.

PH: There's been a culture of risk-taking.  And there's also been this very intense notion of meritocracy here. This is a lot less about putting barriers to keep people out — it's actually a lot more about creating attractions to keep people in.

CO: Now, is it just a coincidence that the idea of an independent California has taken on new meaning and more steam in the past 24 to 48 hours?

PH: It's obviously directly related to the Trump election. [When you consider] the things that have come out and have been exposed as a result of the Trump victory, and the things coming out of his rallies — it's a throwback to an era that is romanticized, and particularly in more conservative parts of the U.S. and the South. It's not particularly romanticized [in California]. A lot of the people who are in a position where they've done well within the economy and with society here would have been very unwelcome 30 or 40 years ago in the U.S. And I think the "Calexit" conversations are part of that. People are shocked and frustrated.

A map of the U.S. showing California, which -- if Silicon Valley entrepreneurs had their way -- could secede from the United States under a fervent new "Calexit" campaign.

CO: Is there a device, or a way of "Calexit" actually happening?

PH: Well, there's a way to do anything. It's just a question of effort, passion, money and time. I'm not aware of how the mechanism would work. But these kinds of things develop as ground swells, and they typically start in California at the initiative process [and become a ballot proposition]. California is dramatically wealthier and higher educated than the mass of the places that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. And so when you really start looking at it, it feels like a different country in some ways. In a time like this, when you get this kind of election, I think that's when these things come to a point.  

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Paul Holland. And here's our pitch for the anthem of the new republic. Take a listen to Sloan's "Losing California":