Richard West: Time for the USA to consider partition?

Published: 6/28/2022 1:22:50 PM
Modified: 6/28/2022 1:20:15 PM
Time for the USA to consider partition?

In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln won the White House, the southern states correctly concluded that their decadeslong ability to control the national political agenda had ended. They seceded from the union and formed the Confederate States of America. The northern states asserted that the primacy of the union prevented secession and so war commenced. It was long, bloody, and costly.

Today we face a similar political crisis. Millions of Americans believe that the national political agenda no longer expresses their values. To prevent another long, costly, and bloody Civil War, the people of the United States of America should seriously consider partition.

How would this work? The USA would partition into three nation-states. The United States of the Atlantic would be comprised of the states north of the Potomac and the Ohio and east of the Mississippi. The United States of the Pacific would be comprised of Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. The United States of the Mississippi would consist of all of the southern and plains states, as well as Alaska.

The United States would continue to exist as an economic and military entity, much like the European Union and NATO. Free trade and the free movement of citizens between each nation-state would continue unhindered. If someone from Massachusetts wanted to move to Florida, no legal obstacles would stand in his or her way. If a company in Massachusetts wanted to send its product to California, no commercial obstacles would stand in its way.

Each nation-state however would elect its own form of government, presumably similar to our current model, with independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The nation-states would elect their own representatives in the manner they chose, and they would enact and uphold their own laws as they saw fit. Laws governing rights and liberties would be reserved for the nation-states to determine for themselves. Laws governing business and labor practices, taxes, education, property rights, environment standards, everything governing daily life within their borders would be similarly determined.

I understand that the broad outlines of such a proposal just scratch the surface of how much work would be involved in making partition a reality. But I think we can all agree that as a nation we are nearing a breaking point. We cannot afford another civil war. Now is the time to think creatively about how to avoid it.

Richard West



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