1st Edition

Splitsville USA A Democratic Argument for Breaking Up the United States

By Christopher F. Zurn Copyright 2023
    228 Pages 3 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 3 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Splitsville USA argues that it’s time for us to break up to save representative democracy, proposing a mutually negotiated, peaceful dissolution of the current United States into several new nations.

    Zurn begins by examining the United States’ democratic predicament, a road most likely headed for electoral authoritarianism, with distinct possibilities of ungovernability and violent civil strife. Unlike others who share this diagnosis, Zurn presents a realistic picture of how we can get to reform and what it would involve. It is argued that “Splitsville” represents the most plausible way for American citizens to continue living under a republican form of government. Despite recent talk of secession and civil war, this book offers the most extensive treatment yet of the issues we need to think through to enable a peacefully negotiated political divorce.

    Splitsville USA is a provocative conversation opener about the problems that have gotten us into our current political pickle and how to get out of it by seizing the reins of our own constitutional destiny. The book will appeal to readers of political science, American politics, history, political philosophy and law, along with all general readers interested in the future of democracy in the United States.

    1 Prelude: Time for a US National Divorce  2 Diagnosis: Democracy Imperiled  3 Prescription: Splitsville USA  4 Alternative Prescriptions?  5 The Divorce Decree: Details of Negotiated Dissolution  6 The Preamble's Broader Questions for Splitsville  7 Authoring our own Destiny


    Christopher F. Zurn is Professor of Philosophy at UMass Boston, USA, specializing in social and political philosophy. Along with journal articles and book chapters, he has published two monographs: Deliberative Democracy and the Institutions of Judicial Review (2007) and Axel Honneth: A Critical Theory of the Social (2015). He has also co-edited two essay collections: New Waves in Political Philosophy (2009) with Boudewijn de Bruin, and Anerkennung (2009, in German) / The Philosophy of Recognition: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (2010, in English) with Hans-Christoph Schmidt am Busch.

    "Many Americans claim to be concerned about political polarization, yet when it comes to presenting a solution insist on blaming the problem entirely on the other side. They wind up thereby exemplifying the problem rather than contributing to its solution. Zurn suggests that rather than diminishing polarization perhaps Americans should be amplifying it, with the goal of ultimately breaking up the country. While many will regard his solution as equally impractical, he presents a strong case, in a discussion that is refreshingly free of false piety."

    Joseph Heath, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada

    "Has America grown too divided to govern? Christopher Zurn answers emphatically "yes" in Splitsville USA, a must-read for students and scholars of U.S. constitutional history, law, and politics. Zurn’s provocative remedy for what ails America—a negotiated dissolution of the Union—is sure to spark a visceral response from readers. Some will reject it. Others will endorse it. And still others will initially resist but reluctantly agree. Yet wherever they stand on Zurn’s controversial proposal to save America from itself, readers will find much to commend in this challenging and revelatory analysis of democracy in the United States."

    Richard Albert, Professor of World Constitutions and Director of Constitutional Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, United States

    "These are momentous and challenging times for the United States, calling for audacious thought. Christopher Zurn rises to the occasion. He first sets out ome of the causes of our present discontents and worries about the very survival of our democratic system. But his real contribution is his suitably audacious suggestions for alleviating them.  He advocates, and describes, a peaceful, perhaps even amiable, "divorce" by which the Union would be dissolved and separated into more manageable and presumably less polarized units. One need not agree with all of his particular suggestions in order to admire his civic concern and engagement. What is vitally needed at this time is the kind of candid and sobering argument that Zurn offers and invites from others."

    Sanford Levinson, University of Texas Law School, author of Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance, United States