If the United States dissolved tomorrow, leaving 50 independent states, how many would qualify as “fully” or “mostly” democratic within 10 years?
— Neo-New Nationalist (@dhnexon) July 1, 2018
I’m curious what LGM readers think, particularly in terms of which states would likely go in what direction, and why? The thought experiment may seem forced, but it helps tease out questions about the relationship between the US federal architecture and state-level regime types. The most obvious are already in play with the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act. But it also points to some underlying questions.
First, what states, on their own, have the internal characteristics we associate with consolidated democracies and democratic persistence? For instance, a number of state-level economies are highly dependent upon primary-resource extraction. The “resource curse” literature suggests that this might undermine democratic governance.
Second, how necessary is the pooling of resources—for purposes such as national defense—in maintaining “republican liberty”? Which states can defend themselves and their institutions on their own—not necessarily against military invasion, but in terms of political domination by other powers? Other states?
Anyway, if anyone wants to speculate on these matters, or just play around with these questions, comments are open.