Given what we know about optimal country size, a monolithic America makes less sense today than it did a century ago. What made America into the superpower that it is today is its massive internal free trade area. Now that trade barriers have declined worldwide, this is less of an advantage than ever before. It’s not at all clear that this diminishing advantage outweighs the cost of our divisive politics based on unshared cultural assumptions.
Dourado doesn’t give a solution, but he does mention with some credulity Colin Woodard’s view that North America consists of “11 distinct cultures,” implying that Woodard might provide the lines for a broken up United States. Now, I don’t know Dourado’s politics. He’s with Mercatus, so one would assume at least right-friendliness, but the fact that he doesn’t even make the obvious nod toward the notion of federalism suggests he tends to be more left than right.
I have to think most conservatives would have spotted that solution, at least for a mention, because federalism is really what he’s talking about. The difference is that, rather than limiting the strength of the federal government, Dourado is leaning toward dividing the country entirely.
As he notes, the United States has essentially been a self-contained free-trade zone with open borders. Although its role has been increasingly pervasive, the federal government was initially tasked with helping resolve some disputes and standing as a bulwark for the internal states against a hostile international battleground. If we were to dissolve our national constitution, how would those two roles be filled?
One wonders whether the real goal of such a move would be to give the globalist Left more leverage for a one-world nation. If the United States government weren’t coordinating the economic and political powerhouses that are the states within its borders and acting as a global superpower, progressives would surely push for some form of international government to take over.
The notion isn’t encouraging. We’d be better off going the conservative route and reducing the role of the federal government and remaining one nation with a renewed emphasis on regional pluralism, allowing the cultural regions Dourado cites to maintain their character and fluctuate in shape.