The Greenland Purchases Makes the Case for California Independence

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

In all the joking and hijinks and madness inspired by President Trump’s desire to buy Greenland, there is a serious lesson for California.

And it’s this: political independence has real value.

Greenland is part of Denmark. But it has real sovereignty and power—indeed, it’s had “home rule” for four decades. It’s also been engaged in some changes to its governmental structure.

But it doesn’t have independence. So if Denmark wanted to sell Greenland to the United States or anyplace else, Greenland might have to go, even if did not want to go.

With independence, Greenlanders may control their own destiny in dealing with America or any other deranged empire. Indeed, one reason you saw Danes defending Greenland is that they didn’t want to inspire more efforts towards Greenland independence.

Californians should take note. We, too, are subject to the whims of this president—and other presidents to come. We are seeking greater power and autonomy now, and defending ourselves through the courts. But the better protection is independence, with all the power and responsibilities that entails. California independence is of course a very fringe idea. 

But that could change.

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