Regional Territories: A Decentralization Plan for the USA
There is more talk of secession and civil war in the United States today than at any time since the 1850s, and popular confidence in government appears to be at an all-time low. As a foreigner, I have no particular red or blue loyalties, but I have deployed with Americans on many occasions, and in some ways, their history is also mine. There is a chance that history will look at the culture wars of the 2010s as a prelude to the great disintegration of the 2020s, so it might be time to point out that confederation and preserving the union are not mutually exclusive.
The concept of sovereignty has a complicated history, and the unruly colonials of late eighteenth-century America added several twists. The US Constitution was a kind of archetype of modern federalism, providing an example that would be followed closely in Canada and Australia. The precise status of shared sovereignty in the early United States is famously controversial.
For the present purposes, it is enough to say that federalism implies a division of responsibilities so that state and federal governments have authority in their own right. Almost inevitably, the details of that division are often in dispute.
Confederations have delegated authority, existing somewhere between a federation and a treaty organization or alliance. They can be thought of as a special type of intergovernmental organization with an unusually broad mandate to originate and administer policy. The European Union is probably the closest thing to a real confederation in th
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