I find this idea really interesting, which I posted about yesterday.
One thing to focus on is, What Follows? When people hear "USA will disintegrate," they get, I bet, visions of the apocalypse. That there will be nothing after. Or, they can't envision the after - they only envision the meltdown/destruction. I had the sense that people thought this regarding the meltdown of Wall Street last fall and of Detroit.
But something always follows. That is life. The change that follows could be good and should not be feared reflexively. For example, the Big Bailout (and past bailouts such as the savings and loan crisis of about 20 years ago) makes it clear that our financial system doesn't really work. It's like a young adult who says he's living on his own but gets saved every few years by his parents, who come in and give him money and pay off his debts, saying, "This is the last time, Junior!" Something's not working. Time to let the scheme crumble, perhaps, and see what follows? Ditto for Detroit. If it crumbled, would smaller car companies take root and build cars that are actually good? There would be a whole lot of skilled auto industry labor around. Entrepreneurs could swoop in .... Call it creative destruction.
So what would post-USA North America look like? The Russian academic, Igor Panarin, who proposed this idea sees the USA breaking into the following countries: Atlantic America (the Northeast, broadly construed); The Texas Republic (many Southern states); The Central North American Republic; The California Republic (really the West Coast); Alaska; and Hawaii.
Note: Prof Panarin says this will come after a fractious civil war. Can we avoid that? The whole breakup will start when cash-starved states will start withholding money from the Fed, leading to their secession from the Union.
Back to my point. What would the cultures of these new republics be like? What would their Constitutions be like? It could be a time of great creativity. I think our Constitution now is showing signs of age. Scholars do not agree on which interpretive method to use to interpret it. It's hard to know what the Framers actually meant. Time for a new one before we end up in any further in a Bible situation - scholars who seem more like high priests and sages tell us that the text doesn't mean what it says, that it means something different - something that sounds suspiciously close to the priest or sage's own broader moral, cultural, and political agenda. It's clay. Which rights would survive, which would go by the wayside, and which new ones would arise in the new constitutions?
Which region would fare best? Take economics. Would Bible-belters have a stronger economy than the East or West coasts? Would teaching Creationism in schools and blocking out Evolution harm the nurturing of tomorrow's scientists, who are necessary for innovation? Would people move, self-selecting which region to live in, based on cultural values? Would any of the new republics build Berlin Walls to prevent brain drain?
Let the games begin. This might solve our culture wars. We could see, literally, which group's ideas make for a better country. Indeed, might this sort of competition and experimentation and innovation and risk-taking have been what the USA founders actually intended all along - a creativity in self-rule that a strong federal government has squelched?
See you in 2010?