Instigator / Pro

California should secede


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 3 votes and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

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Three days
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One week
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Contender / Con
Description maybe its time we went our separate ways amerika

Round 1
The united states is too polarized we can get along the best way to let each live as they want we must separate and go our own way
thx, billbatard, for instigating this debate.



CALIFORNIA is "a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 423,970 km2, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area.  [1]

SECEDE [verb] is 'to split from or to withdraw from membership of a political union, an alliance or an organisation." [2]


Wikipedia suggests:

"When two parties are in a discussion and one makes a claim that the other disputes, the one who makes the claim typically has a burden of proof to justify or substantiate that claim especially when it challenges a perceived status quo.  This is also stated in Hitchens's razor.". [3]

In this case, PRO as instigator and claimant bears the entire responsibility of proof.

CON interprets the resolution to mean that as a matter of public policy, the people of California should withdraw from the US as a solution to polarization.


P1: The US is too polarized.
P2:  Separation if the best solution for polarization
C1:  Therefore, California should separate from the US for relief from polarization.

REFUTE P1:  In a two-party republic, polarization is how you know democracy is working.  One of the US's (apparently) naturally occurring checks and balances is a restless reformation around 50/50 lines.   The underlying issues change, are accepted or rejected by the majority, but the 50/50 division reforms on new issues.  Once it was gay marriage now it is the wall.  Once it was Obamacare now it is impeachment.  Democracies tend to prefer binary choices between over-simplified poles.

In order to maintain this premise, CON requires PRO to define a benchmark for "too polarized" and explain how surpassing that benchmark represents a harm to California in need of dramatic remedy.  Because make no mistake, California's secession would be deeply traumatic to the global economy of which California represents the fifth largest chunk.

REFUTE P2: If PRO can prove that polarization is a real harm to California, PRO must also prove that secession is the best remedy.  The Confederacy did not achieve relief from polarization by secession.  The South lost the war, their slaves and a generation of able bodied men but they never lost their capacity to think oppositionally in terms of Northern cities and the Federal Govt.

CON assumes that California secession would be immediately followed by a short, brutal military intervention and instant restoration to the Union by force. PRO must show that military conflict would not take place or that California could win a war with the US with minimal losses.

PRO should give a few examples of secession that led to increased happiness for the secessionists.

REFUTE C1:  PRO argues that separation relieves polarization.  Let's recall that rural California is deeply conservative.  5 of the the top 20 most conservative cities in the US govern California's incredibly abundant agricultural and energy sectors.  Democrats only represent 45% of California's voters.  What dynamics prevent California from re-polarizing along rural vs urban divisions which are also right vs. left?  [4] [5]

PRO never explains whether only the well-being of California is under consideration or if the well-being of the rest of the US also hangs in the balance.  Certainly, conservatives would enjoy significant gains in the short term, particularly if war and/or famine follows secession.

PRO's case is too short, ill-defined, ill-considered and unwarranted.


  • Secession implies theft of huge chucks of US National property- National Parks, Military Bases, Native American Reservations, etc.   
The federal government owns 47.70 percent of California's total land, 47,797,533 acres out of 100,206,720 total acres. [6]
  • PRO must demonstrate how land will be re-apportioned to both parties' satisfaction.  PRO must describe how California will compensate US for highways, parks, dams, bridges, ports, etc.
  • PRO must estimate the costs of California secession and the economic impact of secession.
  • If war with US is averted, California is the still the fifth-wealthiest state in the world suddenly stripped of the protections of the world's finest military.  An undefended, independent California would be a tempting takeover target for a number of states, China first and foremost.  Secession would certainly shift global power to Asia in a big way.
    • California law subjects 'all able-bodied male citizens and declared citizens between 18 and 45 years old" to service in the California militia.  The young men are required to defend the state in need.
    • In the absence of a large navy, air force, or nuclear arsenal, California would be required to lean heavily, probably exclusively on this unorganized, untrained militia in any war.
    • PRO must show that California's military is sufficient to preserve California's sovereignty and independence.
  • PRO must address the threat of additional counter-secession and reduction to anarchy.
    • A quarter of Californians are of Mexican ancestry and may prefer that Southern California return to Mexico.
    • Half of Californian counties are very conservative and may counter-secede, taking much of California's natural resources with them.
    • Many large corporate entities currently headquartered  in California will likely choose to relocate to the US.  Will California permit large scale migration of industry leaders?
  • California gets two-thirds of its usable water from other US states.  The US is capable of radically dehydrating California in the space of weeks.  PRO must address how California assures external water supplies or survives on the insufficient internal supply.
  • We should note that the only 21st century secessionist movement in California was "Yes California,"  which disbanded after US intelligence and law enforcement agencies advised  that Yes California's  leadership and funding came were rooted in Vladimir Putin's Russian Oligarchy, that its founder Louis J. Marinelli had fled to Moscow and that the movement was essentially a Russian attack on US sovereignty via illegal foreign propaganda and illegal foreign campaign contributions. [7]
    • That is, secession is such a stupid idea that US enemies promote the idea as likely to bring about or accelerate the decline of the United States as an international power.
CON has demonstrated that PRO's argument is weak and ill-considered.  PRO must address many complex and important  concerns to even begin a defense of California secession for which PRO's argument so far suggests little capacity.

PRO's argument is entirely unsubstantiated and unwarranted.

Back to PRO for R2 arguments.

Round 2
most of the arguments you make are about details how hard it might be to sort things out
again not so hard 
 there are exmpls from history like when czech and slovakia split up peacefully it doesn't have to be a mess its only a mess if you make it a mess

my argument is basically a fiat proposal" Fiat (Latin for 'let it be done') is a theoretical construct in policy debate – derived from the word should in the resolution – whereby the substance of the resolution is debated, rather than the political feasibility of enactment and enforcement of a given plan,[9] allowing an affirmative team to "imagine" a plan into being.
For example: a student at a high school debate argues that increases in United States support of United Nations peacekeeping may help to render the United States more multilateral. Such an increase is very unlikely to occur from the debate judge voting affirmative, but fiat allows the student to side-step this practicality, and argue on the substance of the idea, as if it could be immediately enacted.[10]
There are different theories regarding fiat:
"Normal means" – going through the same political process comparable with normal legislative processes. There is no overarching, accepted definition of the legislative pathways which constitute "normal means," but clarification about what an affirmative team regards as "normal means" can be obtained as part of cross-examination by the negative team.
"Infinite" or "durable fiat" – the degree to which an imagined, or "fiated", action is considered permanent. In many policy debates, debaters argue about the reversibility "fiated" actions. For example, in a debate about whether the United States Federal Government should implement new regulations designed to reduce climate change, a Negative team might argue that regulations would be repealed if the Republican Party gained control of the Presidency or Congress. Various interpretations of fiats have been constructed in order to promote more realistic policy debates."[11]

"California is a great, big, beautiful, wonderful, incredible, super-spectacular state not just until, but even when some random calamity strikes.
Ben Boychuk is right. (“Secession 2020? Sigh. Here’s why it shouldn’t happen even if it makes the ballot,” Forum, April 26.) An earthquake may destroy a major traffic artery and a devastating wildfire may wipe out half of Napa Valley.
But these tragic events cannot take away from the beauty, nor the wonder, of California. And when somebody decides the state should secede, it is not a calamity. Secession is an opportunity.

No, these deal with impossible goals. Secession is possible. Will it be an uphill battle? Sure. A Herculean task? Maybe. But here’s where you’re wrong: The Civil War did not settle this issue and nowhere in the Constitution, nor in Texas v. White, nor any subsequent court ruling does it say a “supermajority” of states must provide consent.

There are three possible thresholds that could constitute the “consent of the states” required to secede under federal law: unanimous consent (all the states), a supermajority, (two-thirds of the states), or a simply majority (half of the states).
If California was admitted into the Union by a simple majority vote (as it was), under what basis would a supermajority be required for her to exit?
I contend a simple majority establishes this consent, but would this vote take place in Congress or in state legislatures? These questions remain unanswered, but can you think of 25 red states that might like to see blue California secede? I can think of 30 that voted for Donald Trump.
Look, the United States claims to be the freest country in the world. We ought to enjoy the fundamental right of self-determination, and if we so determine, self-rule.
Then California can sign a military base agreement with the Americans to lease land for their existing bases. California will not be hostile towards them, but our immigrants will be protected from them.

Additionally, by keeping the tens (sometimes hundreds) of billions of dollars we lose each year supporting red states that hate California, we will reduce our debts, fund our liabilities, and provide every Californian with a debt-free college education and universal healthcare.
Yes, California is incredible. But just wait until we are independent.

thx, billbatard.


Let's recall that CON has argued that PRO bear the entire burden of proof in this debate and PRO has offered no objection.

CON interprets the resolution to mean that as a matter of public policy, the people of California should withdraw from the US as a solution to polarization.


  • In R1, CON required PRO to define a benchmark for "too polarized" and explain how surpassing that benchmark represents a harm to California in need of dramatic remedy.
    • Instead, PRO dropped the argument entirely.  PRO never mentioned polarization in R2 at all.
    • That is, PRO has failed to demonstrate any harm to California in need of remedy, much less show how secession is the best or only remedy.
  • CON recalled the terrible violence of the Civil War and asked for successful examples of secession.
    • PRO offered one example- the peaceful separation of Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution which wasn't secession so much as mutual dissolution along traditional ethnic divisions.  CON notes that Czechoslovakia itself seceded from the Austrian Empire and did manage to maintain democracy and sovereignty for 20 years of the next 75 but mostly was subjected to invasion, war, mass murder and totalitarian subjugation as a consequence of succession.
  • PRO never engages CON regarding the concern of subsequent secessions resulting in the balkanization of California.
  • PRO never considers the grevious harm done by secession to fellow Americans in the rest of the US.
  • PRO irrelevantly cut and pastes a description of fiat in debate.  CON acknowledges that PRO has no authority to secede on California behalf and recognized that we are only the theoretical advisability of such secession.
  • PRO bizarrely argues that the Constitution, Civil War, and Texas v. White did not require a supermajority of states to consent.
    • That is only true because the Constitution, Civil War, and Texas v. White all unequivocally rejected the legality of secession under any circumstance.  
  • If Madison wasn't sufficiently clear, Lincoln made the question pristine:  once joined in federation, any and all attempts to secede are attacks on the sovereignty of the Union and automatically acts of war.  If California secedes, the US is legally and constitutionally required to get it back by any means necessary.  Californians may opt out of citizenship but the state of California legally belongs to the US and its citizens in perpetuity.
    • Con irrelevantly argues that questions of secession are unanswered and that a simple majority vote might authorize secession but such was the ignorance of Southern Democrats immediately before their legal  destruction and re-absorption by the United States in the 1860s.
  • PRO rather blithely assumes that California GDP will remain status quo following secession and makes plans for spending the anticipated surplus revenue. Let's recall that many Brexiters thought this way when voting to secede from the EU in 2016 but three years later Britain has already wasted $66 billion and lost 2.5%GDP dithering while actually leaving the EU would cost 2 to 3 times that and almost certainly predicate a long recession across Europe.  CON assumes that if California  (larger than UK economy) seceded from the Union the result would be global depression as Pacific trade collapses (59% of Chinese imports entered  US at Long Beach in 2015, for example.) [2]

  • CON argued that 47.70% of California is Federal land outright. 
    • PRO failed to resolve this major obstacle to peaceful secession. otal land, 47,797,533 acres out of 100,206,720 total acres. [6]
  • CON asked PRO to estimate the costs of California secession and the economic impact of secession.  
    • PRO ignored CON's reasonable request.
  • CON asked PRO to show that California's military is sufficient to preserve California's sovereignty and independence.
    • PRO ignored CON reasonable ask.
  • CON asked PRO whether California would  permit large scale Corporation migration out of state.
    • PRO made no answer.
  • CON asked PRO where California would get clean water and at what price after secession. 
    • California agriculture and energy sectors would certainly see great harm from any reduced water supply.
  • CON noted that secession is such a terrible idea that US enemies initiated and funded Yes California in 2016.  
    • PRO failed to address why he is promoting plans developed by his enemies.

If VOTERS agree with CON that PRO's  plan is ill-considered, illegal, expensive, short-sighted, selfish, and exactly what our enemies are hoping for then VOTERS should reward points for argument to CON.

Thanks in advance to all VOTERS for their kind consideration of this debate.

Please help keep the US as we have always promised each other it would remain: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.  Vote CON!