Imagine this near-future scenario: in mid-2019, some vague rather-bad-thing happens. It is unpleasant but manageable; then, in October, another thing happens which makes the first bad thing much worse; by spring 2020, several other unfortunate (or malicious) events have converged with first couple of things, it has gotten serious, by the end of summer, it is being called a crisis; the 2020 election results in upheavals in the government, which then tries to get things under control, but everything they do seems to make it worse; by the end of 2021, they have decided to give up, the House and the Senate, by close to 70% each pass a joint resolution to dissolve the United States.
Since the states are sovereign, they would have full authority over their own area in the event of a federal dissolution. I guess states would probably have to start managing their own foreign affairs and national defense, and people would vote with their feet on what sort of polices they preferred. It doesn’t sound that bad, actually.
I have a hard time imaging a series of crises which could be addressed better by a bunch of individual small countries than by a single large country. More likely would be the small countries would begin arguing over the crises they face and pretty soon you’d have embargoes and wars added to the existing problems.
Agreement with Little Nemo. The crises, as bad as they might be, are better addressed by union than by division.
There might be some limited devolution. There might be a severe cut-back in Federal regulation, and an increase in states’ independent power. This would lead to the proverbial “patchwork quilt” of regional regulation, and some nasty disputes.
(Missouri gets really mad at Indiana for dumping pollutants into the river. Well, too bad, there ain’t no EPA no more.)
Eventually, as with world nations, we’d see treaty organizations spring up to address disputes. In time, a central government would re-evolve. E pluribus Unum all over again.
I think that’s generally true for most crises in recent memory; things like natural disasters, insolvency, or armed conflict would be best handled together, and even if things fell apart, the country would organically knit back together soon after.
But some sort of internecine policy conflict could do the trick. If there was some sort of issue that couldn’t be resolved by devolution and states rights–something like abortion access or the draft, only to a greater extent–perhaps the country really would split apart. It’s not inconceivable to imagine that such a conflict could lead to violence and civil unrest. In the interest of not fighting the hypothetical, this is fairly plausible, and we handle hypotheticals that could never happen here all the time.
Except, the state’s get their identity and definition as parts of the US. Dissolve the nation and the states have to establish themselves as sovereign entities. The country would be a sort of uncharted territory that I suspect would end up reorganizing itself. There would be border, territory and regional conflicts, without the federal ties. I know my state would almost certainly try to split in half over ideology.
I think northern California would like to split away, but the southern big cities would conquer 'em in a cakewalk. We might stop at the Oregon border, but I have a strong feeling we’d grab parts of NV and AZ, and steal all the water from the Colorado River. (We steal most of it already.)
We might grab parts of Mexico, as a protective zone. I figure we’d ally with WA, and try to get in close relations with Japan, China, and the Philippines. (And with the central U.S. government gone…heh…say goodbye to Taiwan!)
Our economy is completely dependent on the free movement of goods between states. Every one of us depends on supply chains that cross state boundaries for our food, clothing, gas, and in some cases even water and electricity. Corporations, non-profits, and even families and spread out over the states. Living without a unified nation just isn’t possible, tempting though it may seem in some respects.
I would love to see the several states all split off. Fifty little fiefdoms. Those with good ideas would thrive. Those with bad ideas would suffer, until they wised up and adopted the good ideas of their neighbors. Then we would all be better off.
The hippies in San Francisco would not approve of such aggression. What are you planning to do to them when they organize against you?
If the US split up, I think Mexico might try to re-take some of its lost territories. Are there enough warmongers in California to protect its independence? How would the Hispanic population react to such a conflict?
In southern New Mexico, we have a large Hispanic population. Many of them would be quite sympathetic to Mexican revanchism. On the other hand, many of them speak Spanish as a secondary language, and consider DF to be even worse than DC. Things might get as ugly as the Balkans after Yugoslavia broke up.
The Mescalero Apache reservation is in mountainous country that would be good for guerrilla warfare. They might declare their own independence. Perhaps the Navajo as well, although I don’t know if they have enough population to defend it. The Hopi would probably fight for whoever promised to protect them from the Navajo. Things might get really ugly really quickly.
I’m not thrilled at the thought of moving to Texas, but for a honky, it might be the safest course. Texas has oil, seaports, its own power grid, and a strong military tradition. If they could convince their Hispanics to be Tejanos first, and Mexicanos second, they would have the best odds of any of the states.