That's the question Victor Davis Hanson asked in a column last year, that I came across recently. Here's an excerpt.
A tourist mecca like Venice now boasts that it dreams of breaking away from an insolvent Italy. Similarly Barcelona, and perhaps the Basques and the Catalonians in general, claim they want no part of a bankrupt Spain. Scotland fantasizes about becoming separate from Great Britain. The Greek Right dreams of a 19th-century Greece without Asian and African immigrants who do not look Greek. Belgium increasingly seems an artificial construct, half Flemish, half French, with the two sides never more estranged. These days Texas and California do not even seem like two parts of a united nation, just as Massachusetts is growing ever more distant from Wyoming.
Here at home, it is not just that taxation and government are different in red and blue states, or that for the last two decades national elections have hinged on what the shrinking number of purple-state voters prefer. Social and cultural questions are also dividing us, almost as much as slavery did in the 1850s. Fault lines over abortion, the role of religion, gay marriage, affirmative action, welfare, illegal immigration, and gun ownership are starting to manifest themselves regionally. We have long had the Blue–Gray game; soon will there be a Red–Blue Bowl? If Mexico plays against the U.S. soccer team in Merced, Fresno, or L.A., will the spectators root for the country in which they live or the country that they left?
. . .
Why is there today a nostalgia for localism? Shrinking Western populations with growing numbers of elderly and unemployed can no longer sustain their present level of redistributive taxation and entitlements. Europe, which can endure neither the disease of insolvency nor the supposed medicine of austerity, is only a decade ahead of what we should expect here in the United States, or what we see now in California — a construct more than a state, where the Central Valley is to the coast as Mississippi is to Massachusetts.
There's more at the link. Recommended and thought-provoking reading.
Mr. Hanson asks a very good question, I think. The current brouhaha over gun control is an excellent example. Americans in the liberal northeastern part of the country, plus a large swatch of the west coast, are all in favor of it. The south, midwest and plains are generally very much against it. I don't see much common ground, nor do I see efforts to find common ground. On both sides, the extremists have taken over. It's become an "us-versus-them" problem.
What's the answer? I don't know . . . but I think any move to break up a large nation into smaller entities is bound to bring with it increased regional tensions, possibly erupting into Balkan-style conflicts if things overflow. The cure might become worse than the disease.
What say you, readers? Any ideas?