Founded by Louis J. Marinelli and Marcus Ruiz Evans in 2015, Yes California is the largest and most widely-known community of activists who believe that California should be an independent country.
The reasons for this are many but can generally be summarized as follows: (1) California is a distinct society with its own unique history and culture, (2) California as the world’s fifth largest economy has what it takes to be its own country, and (3) The best people to govern California are the people of California.
Our effort for full independence was launched in 2015 during the midst of the Scottish independence referendum. We took such inspiration from Scotland that we reorganized Sovereign California, an effort to pursue partial autonomy from the United States, into the full California independence secession campaign known around the world today as Calexit.
Calexit Predates Donald Trump
It would be inaccurate to say that the campaign for California independence started as a result of the 2016 presidential election – Yes California was circulating independence petitions in California before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy for president.
In the spring of 2015, the Calexit campaign was circulating petitions such as the California National Flag Act, which would have changed the California Government Code to require the display of the California state flag in the position of first honor (with respect to the American Flag) as California’s national flag.
That same year, Calexit activists were collecting signatures for the President of California Act, which would have amended the California Constitution to change the title of the chief executive of the state from ‘Governor’ to ‘President’.
It goes without saying that Donald Trump has helped convince many Californians that secession from the Union is the only way to guarantee a future for California that reflects our values, preserves our history, and ensures our ability to build a future for ourselves and our posterity that we can all be proud of, but Calexit indeed predates Donald Trump.
2016 - 2017 Campaign
When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, we were just as surprised as you were. Very few people expected him to win, including Mr. Trump himself, according to some reports. At the time, our campaign’s president and co-founder, Louis J. Marinelli, had already traveled abroad to pursue personal objectives. In all honesty, our campaign was prepared to go on hiatus after the emotionally-charged political year concluded with the election of Hillary Clinton.
As you know, that did not happen. Suddenly Louis and Marcus had to work together to organize a snap referendum campaign from opposite ends of the world – some twelve times zones apart from each other! Regardless of the difficulties, the two organized thousands of volunteers, drafted a new ballot initiative, and organized a signature-gathering campaign.
About the time Yes California began circulating our petition for signatures, Calexit was the talk of California and major polls indicated that nearly half the population of California was either for secession, or at least willing to consider the option. This naturally scared the establishment powers in Washington and New York, and an organized media campaign was launched to discredit Calexit by tying our campaign to Russia.
After months of propaganda implying (but never actually proving) that Calexit was a Russian asset, our campaign unfortunately had no option but to withdraw our independence referendum from circulation. The campaign reorganized under the leadership of Marcus Ruiz Evans, who became president of Yes California on July 4, 2017.
Three years of the media stories of the Russian boogeyman now serve as a modern day version of Aesop’s Fable of the boy who cried wolf and the media’s scare tactics are less effective today than they were then. And so Calexit shall move forward.
The key concept for Calexit now is preparedness. Yes California is currently organizing a new ballot initiative to put a vote of independence on the ballot. In order to do so, we intend to file our initiative with the State of California a couple months in advance of the 2020 presidential election so that the day after we will have permission from the state to begin circulating the petition for signatures.
Why is it so important to be ready to circulate the day after the presidential election? We acknowledge it may be controversial to say so, but it is this campaign’s belief that Donald Trump will be reelected in 2020. Remember how you felt the day after Donald Trump was elected back in 2016? In the weeks and months following his election, there was so much motivation on the streets across California to stand up and do something. When Donald Trump is reelected next year, there is going to be revolution in the California and we intend to tap into that energy to get our independence referendum on the ballot.