- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2016

Americans unable or unwilling to reconcile themselves to a Trump presidency are getting creative as they search for an escape.

Gaining steam on the left coast is the California secession movement, known as CalExit, which began trending nationally on Twitter as election momentum shifted Tuesday to Republican Donald Trump.

Other Trump foes are weighing that old Democratic standby — moving to Canada. And then there’s the Change.org petition launched Thursday urging Electoral College voters to defy their state outcomes and cast their ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

For the truly desperate, the White House “We the People” website already has two petitions calling for Mr. Trump to be impeached, even though he won’t be sworn in until Jan. 20.

The secession card has been played almost exclusively by conservatives in recent years. Petitions to secede were posted on the White House website on behalf of all 50 states after President Obama won re-election in 2012.

In January, however, YesCalifornia was formed to place the question before state voters on the June 2019 ballot, claiming that the federal system is interfering with the state’s ability to move leftward on issues such as universal health care and climate change.

The movement had been largely dismissed as a pipe dream — until Mr. Trump surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar, an Uber investor and Hyperloop co-founder, announced in a series of tweets Tuesday that he would fund a “legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation” under the hashtag #NewCalifornia.

“It’s the most patriotic thing I could do,” Mr. Pishevar told CNBC.

Chiming in was Silicon Valley investor Jason Calacanis, who said Wednesday on Twitter that “California secession would be a layup. California is increasingly more distinct from America.”

He backed off a bit Thursday, tweeting, “Note: I didn’t actually endorse this; simply said it seems possible. Valley investors want California to secede.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump has sparred with Silicon Valley, blasting Apple for making its iPhones in China and accusing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg of denying opportunities to minority and female workers by importing tech specialists under H-1B visas.

Those who can’t wait for secession to play out are turning their attention north to Canada. Residents of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia earlier this year launched a website called “Cape Breton if Trump Wins,” which took off again this week.

“Interest has certainly spiked,” said Cape Breton website founder Rob Calabrese. “Leading up until yesterday, we figured about 6,000 contacts had been made. Hundreds more came in yesterday, but the tone of them seemed to change. It feels as though there is a greater sense of urgency now.”

Roxana Baiceanu, communications specialist with the Canadian real estate portal Point2 Homes, said the number of website visits from potential U.S. homebuyers jumped by 282 percent the day after the election.

The most-targeted cities were Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Cape Breton, while the province of Ontario saw a 400 percent increase in searches for home sales and rentals.

That surge in interest came even though several liberal celebrities who previously had vowed to leave the country if Mr. Trump won announced after the election that they had changed their minds.

Among those reneging were pop singer Miley Cyrus and comedians Amy Schumer and Chelsea Handler, who said Thursday that she had decided to remain for the good of the nation.

“Yesterday my staff reminded me that voices and platforms like mine are needed more than ever; leaving the country is quitting #keepfightin,” Miss Handler said on Twitter.

Other progressives refused to give up on Democrat Hillary Clinton, who held a 336,000-vote lead in the popular vote as of Thursday even though she lost the electoral count. She has captured 228 electoral votes to Mr. Trump’s 290, with Michigan yet to be called.

The Change.org petition urged a revolt by electors, who meet at their state capitols Dec. 19 to make the election result official, arguing that Mrs. Clinton deserves to be president because she won the popular vote and slamming Mr. Trump as “unfit to serve.”

Roughly half the states bind their electors to the state vote, but the penalty for deviating is often only a nominal fine. In Washington state, where two Democratic electors had threatened to withhold support this year for Mrs. Clinton, the fine is $1,000.

By Thursday evening the petition had surpassed 1 million signatures, on its way to its goal of 1.5 million.

Of course, such “faithless electors” are rare. Even in 2000, when Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College count to Republican George W. Bush, none of the Republican electors switched to Mr. Gore.

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