California Split – New York Times

Shelby Foote claimed that the bloodbath of the American Civil War caused a linguistic shift that reflected the unity of the country. From “the United States are”, it became “the United States is“. But after a century and a half of continental exploration and settlement, unsolved racial questions, and the practicality of administering a centralised government, are we seeing the development of an increasingly frangible country? This article posits that the US is on its way back to being “are”.

Political rhetoric? Maybe. But California’s governor has also put his finger on a little discussed flaw in America’s constitutional formula. The United States is almost certainly too big to be a meaningful democracy. What does “participatory democracy” mean in a continent? Sooner or later, a profound, probably regional, decentralization of the federal system may be all but inevitable.

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