The Divided States of America

For some, Rick Perry's announcement that he would be running for the presidency in 2012 did nothing more than affirm the latest worst-kept secret in Washington. For Blawgconomics, it was also a reminder of the day Perry entered the national spotlight with one of the more intriguing statements a politician has made in recent times. For those who need their memories refreshed, Perry suggested during the height of the Tea Party movement in 2009 that Texas might well want to secede at some point if America continued on its then trajectory. What the irony of this statement coming from a man who would now like to run America says about his fitness for the job remains unknown...

However, it got us thinking about what Texas would be like if it did secede. Of course all manner of doomsday scenarios could be dreamed up. We would also wonder what broader state of affairs would facilitate a state being able to leave the Union without military action or civil strife. However, for purposes of this post, let's just consider an amicable separation of Texas Nation from the United States.

As a practical matter, it is very likely that this new (again) nation would be very similar to Texas today, just with far more autonomy. For example, Texas Nation would still have good infrastructure, top universities and ports. Between its own industry and its exports, its agricultural industry would be self-sustaining. In all likelihood, Texas Nation would sign trade agreements with Mexico and the US, might have defense pacts with neighboring nations, and might even have reciprocal border arrangements with its old affiliates (if not Mexico).

So there is a chance that things would remain pretty close to business as usual for most Texans. In other words, there would be very little downside. And the upshot would be that Texans could pass all of the types of bills that are now blocked by pesky legislators up north or by the federal Constitution if they so wanted. So far so good. However, why stop there? Why not think about what it would be like if all the states seceded? After all, on many of the hot topics of the day such as gay marriage, border control, gun control and abortion, battle lines can often be drawn fairly evenly by existing state lines. Therefore giving states an opportunity to be states in a national sense would ease much of the division in America as it exists today.

We could envision a New England nation, a California nation and a country comprised of southeastern states. Maybe the four corners states would band together. Maybe a Io-Ne-Kan-Mi nation would form. There are many ways that regional culture, dialects, shared ideals, shared histories and geography could play into the break-up of the current US map into eight or nine sensible and sustainable nation states with the same attributes as noted in the example of Texas Nation above. Maybe it would even look like the EU does currently, with a shared currency regime, an efficient cross-border travel regime and beneficial common trade regulations. Maybe a NATO-esque mutual defense pact would ensure that rival powers wouldn't make a land grab.

Is this all so far-fetched? In short, yes, it probably is. As frustrated as many of them are, most Americans hold dear the idea of America, and with very good reason. Also, despite conveniently brushing aside such things above, we can't easily and in all intellectual honestly conceive a scenario where the break up of America would be a peaceful and amicable situation.

However, it is worth noting that nations are formed, broken-up and reformed all the time, sometimes even peacefully. Germany, one of the top-5 economies in the world, only reunited in 1990. The Soviet Union's breakup occurred more recently than that. Many of our readers will probably recall when what is now six nations was one Yugoslavia without much difficulty.

Even in the US, the stitching representing Alaska and Hawaii was only added to the Stars and Stripes in 1959, well within the lifetimes of some of our readers. Some people think that The United States is not yet done being formed (think Puerto Rico). As a result of WWII treaties, the US has territories far closer to Japan and Australia than California. The US ran the Panama Canal Zone as a territory as recently as the last day of 1999.

Of course Alaska and Hawaii were territories prior to the granting of statehood, and even Puerto Rico becoming a state wouldn't technically change the sovereignty of that island, just the classification. However the broader point is still valid; even in America, the current conception of nationhood involves more recent history than many people realize. Therefore more changes are not quite outside the realm of possibility. And after all, what is a blog if not a forum to ask what if?


  1. Great post. This is a good reminder of both how recently other nations have formed or broken up over the past 21 years, and how feasible, albeit unlikely, Texas Nation could be...

  2. Josh Sturtevant17/8/11 11:37

    Thank you sir.

    Looking back, perhaps Texas Nation wasn't the best potential country name (I think Longhorn fans have already taken that one). But it is interesting to consider just how possible such a scenario would be so long as the split up happened amicably.