Is the United States Too Big to Govern? – Forward Observer Shop

Is the United States Too Big to Govern?

I look at it like this: the level of complexity required to “govern” the nation has exponentially increased, but the ability of our elected leaders to manage that complexity has not kept pace. What companies would still exist if their CEOs and Board of Directors couldn’t effectively manage the company? The answer is not many, and probably none of them. And so this, too, will likely become America’s Fate of Empire.

So why do we let government get away with waste, fraud, and abuse; corruption and violations of the rule of law (no one went to jail for the IRS scheme targeting conservative groups, no one went to jail for Fast and Furious, no one went to jail over Hillary’s private email server containing classified information, etc.); and general ineptitude at all levels?

I came across an opinion piece published over at the New York Times entitled, “Is the United States Too Big to Govern?” If you can get past the obligatory and immediate virtue signalling over President Trump, the article does bring up some good points.

For one, the author quotes Montesquieu, the French jurist and political philosopher, who wrote:

“In a large republic, the common good is sacrificed to a thousand considerations; it is subordinated to exceptions; it depends on accidents. In a small one, the public good is better felt, better known, lies nearer to each citizen; abuses are less extensive and consequently less protected.”

(I love the line “it depends on accidents,” as if to say that large republics can do nothing right on purpose.)

Corrupt politicians in Washington D.C. are insulated from the People by geography, and insulated from the rule of law by layers of political protection. These people are largely untouchable, and the back stabbing (i.e., doing the right thing) seems to be the only way elected officials are ever subjected to justice. So the casual observer’s first clue that the United States is too big to govern is that their law-breaking politicians are too big to fall. It’s almost as if the Founders deliberately designed a nation of states, small republics in their own right, where politicians are less insulated and public pressure is more easily applied.

The author goes on to outline three problems with a large country:

  1. Voter turnout is lower because citizens feel they have less of a voice
  2. “Political responsiveness” is inadequate to accommodate the citizenry
  3. The largeness of a country is detrimental to social trust

In yesterday’s article, I described that America’s multiculturalism is causing much of our civil and social strife. Diversity is not strength. Unity is strength. And, as it’s been said, we can be racially diverse but culturally homogeneous, or culturally diverse but racially homogeneous, but we cannot be both culturally and racially diverse. This kind of diversity represents “a thousand considerations,” in the words of Montesquieu.

Further, the author writes: “The presence of a wide variety of social groups and cultures is the primary reason for [a lack of social trust]… [H]eterogeneity and trust are frequently in tension, as different ways of life give rise to suspicion and animosity. Without at least a veneer of trust among diverse social groups, politics spirals downward.”

The author’s conclusion is that we can salvage our multicultural society if we work towards inclusiveness and commit ourselves to renewing a “sense of shared responsibility and trust among different groups”.

If America’s diverse groups could commit themselves to the ideological ideals of the Founders — Liberty, the right to privacy and private property, unalienable rights of the citizen, and the rule of law in absolute terms — then perhaps we could co-exist and keep the country going for another roughly 250 years. But I believe, as many others do, that we’re past that point. In 2018, this is simply not a realistic solution.

A realistic solution, one which I believe is probably inevitable, is a dissolution of the United States. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and end of World War I to the end of World War II, the Balkan Peninsula fragmented numerous times into smaller nations based on natural and ethnic boundaries. What was once a part of one empire, the Balkan Peninsula is now home to some 13 different countries. Former Yugoslavia broke up into seven different countries. Upon its collapse, the USSR balkanized into 16 different countries. In all cases, new national boundaries were largely drawn around ethnicity, especially in the case of former Yugoslavia. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that within our lifetimes the United States, instead of balkanizing around ethnicity, balkanizes around culture and political ideology.

I’ve seen several articles over the past few years containing predictions of the new nations to be carved out on this continent. It seems to me, with the evidence that the Left is moving farther Left and the Right is moving farther Right, that not just discussing domestic conflict but also discussing Balkanization is worth our due diligence.

If you’re interested in the potential for these scenarios, or concerned about where we could be headed as a country, then get ahead of the curve. Each Friday our intelligence analysts publish the National Intelligence Bulletin, which covers issues of national security, domestic systems disruption, risk of failing critical infrastructure, and threats to social, political, and economic stability. SUBSCRIBE HERE

If you enjoyed this article and want more of my thoughts on intelligence, security, and defense for an uncertain future, be sure to subscribe to my email updates.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper


If you want to sign up to receive a weekly update by email, then use the first form below. If you’d like to receive these blog posts (Mon-Fri) by email each day, sign up with the second form.




Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.


  1. The only problem with that is location, location, location.

    Even in supposed Blue-State Califrutopia, it’s a 55/45 proposition in every neighborhood. Like Philadelphia, there are occasionally found some precincts that vote 106% for one party over another, but in most places, even the so-called blue hives, they’re a majority, sure, but nowhere near exclusive. And the ones who’ve given up voting at all may outnumber either so-called “majority” party.

    What that means at the rubber and road level is that any attempt to Balkanize turns rapidly into a tribal bloodbath house-to-house, with the edge going to the better armed and more organized side, and bonus points for ruthlessness.

    Matt Bracken notes, with mathematical precision, that’s called Bosnia times Rwanda.

    And in the worst case, one side is more organized, and one side is better armed, leading to a functional draw between them for a long period of time.

    Total Casualties in any war are always a function of Conflict X Time.
    This was why Patton favored bold action, to ultimately save lives.
    A draw becomes the worst possible outcome in terms of body count.

    We had that sort of a conflict once, where one side had to arm up, and the other had to learn to organize, and the winner did both things better than the loser.

    It started in 1861.

  2. It’s the prisoners dilemma. First group to opt out of the civic compact has an advantage over the other groups.

    1. And if you notice, it appears that the socialists are the ones to opt out first. They have struck the first blow of political violence.

      1. That’s because, as perpetual five-year-olds, they’re always looking to see where the boundaries are.

        That’s also why one punch to Moldylocks’ face took the whole movement out, and sent them scurrying back to mommie’s basement.

        They’ll be back again at some point, but that’s the reason you shoot looters; once the word gets out what the stakes are, no one wants to play anymore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Name *