Yesterday I discussed the difficulty of maintaining a republic because of a number of factors. There are others, I’m certain, but those four (size, diversity, avarice, career politicians) seem to be those most troublesome to me. Please understand that I am fully aware that this analysis and proposed solution will probably have no effect on the nation’s discourse. There are some considerations that I believe are worthy of notice if citizens of various states would think about them. If you assume that our nation is too large for a functional, liberty-preserving republic, perhaps we can arrive at a formula that preserves individual freedom, limits the size and scope of the government and promotes property rights and prosperity.
Our federal government has grown too large and unwieldy for a number of reasons, but one that I suspect is critical is that our nation is too large for each of us to be instrumentally engaged and influential. Our federal administration has been regionalized with offices in nearly every major city in the country. At the same time, local governments and, to some degree, state governments have been creating regional alliances and divisions to handle many of the tasks that cross existing political boundaries. If governments at all levels are merging and cooperating to provide services…and limit personal freedom, why not exploit that impetus and construct a system of government that is more personal, encourages liberty and is more efficient and responsible? We could subdivide the 50 states into 6 to 10 smaller nations which share common interests, similar demographics and cultures. Each of these smaller countries would be sovereign, and the states that are included in them would be sovereign consistent with the present Constitution of the United States. The 6 to 10 smaller nations would unite in a confederation (similar to the Articles of Confederation) that would allow for and require common defense, free trade and open borders.
As an illustration of my proposal, what if North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah banded together to form the nation of “Plains?” Their primary export products would be wheat and petroleum from oil sands and deep well drilling. Other foodstuffs could be grown successfully throughout the country at a level that would sustain the new nation and allow some to be shipped outside the borders. Perhaps later some Canadian provinces would seek to establish something similar or join in with their southern neighbors. In that case Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would be natural additions to the Plains. Under this scenario California may wish to form its own coastal mini-nation because of its broad-based economy and large population. Some of you may be shuddering at the prospect of a profligate California as a stand-alone nation, but I suspect that without the incessant federal mandates and regulations plus lacking the opportunity for a federal bailout, California would get its act together….or fail without dragging every other nation along.
Can a plan such as this be implemented? It does seem somewhat farfetched because most of the states have surrendered their 10th Amendment powers and subordinated themselves to the federal leviathan. They probably wouldn’t have the courage or the vision to dissolve the national union to replace it with a series of smaller, more manageable and accountable units. While I have many reservations about the European Union and its negative impact on the individual nations, this arrangement would be the opposite of that one. The United States would devolve from a larger, awkward, smothering behemoth into a succession of lean and controllable affiliated nations. Instead of growing larger to achieve economies of scale and to create a homogeneous union where none had existed before, the North American experiment would unite various states into new nations that already share some degree of similarity with the others in their cluster. The realignment would create new nations wherein most of the populace would share common values and priorities. Discord and vituperative communication should be lessened as the political leadership and the people work for common ground.
As the resident goofball who is promoting this idea, I’m extremely happy that old Abe Lincoln is not President. If he were, he’d probably send General McClellan after me to quell the insurrection. I’m not too worried; however, because I’d probably die of old age before McClellan made a move. I understand that you might consider this idea a preposterous one, and you may be right. I love my country, and I truly fear for its future. Perhaps…just perhaps by breaking our nation into several pieces, we can preserve it. Finally, I suspect the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts if we reorganize into more manageable and homogeneous units.
This exercise was spawned by my desire to return our country to the spirit of our founding. I am aware, however, that times have changed, but bigger isn’t always better. Economy of scale isn’t necessarily more efficient or hospitable to individual liberty. Personal freedom should be the cornerstone of our nation(s).