Book Review, Splitsville, USA: A Democratic Argument for Breaking Up the United States, By Christopher F. Zurn


The US political system has been suffering from multiple serious problems, most notably severe polarization and weakening of crucial political norms underpinning democracy. In Splitsville USA, political philosopher Christopher Zurn advocates a radical solution: national divorce. He contends that Americans will be better off if the United States were divided up into two or more new nations. The book is a useful thought experiment and will surely help stimulate debate. But ultimately, Zurn’s proposed remedy is unconvincing. The author overstates the feasibility and effectiveness of peaceful dissolution, while undervaluing those of some potential alternatives, most notably decentralization and limitation of government power. Splitsville also fails to convincingly address a number of potential negative effects of dissolution, particularly the threat to dissenting minorities within the new nations, and the impact on the international system.