As the United States finds itself in the throes of increasing political polarization, the idea of a “national divorce” has gained traction, particularly within the liberty movement. 

Advocates argue that splitting the nation into independent states could enhance individual liberty, allowing citizens to align with governments that reflect their values. 

However, opponents contend that such a move could lead to fragmented anti-liberty measures and weaken the nation’s collective defense of individual rights. 

Let’s delve into the key arguments for and against national divorce, exploring whether such a division would truly be conducive to individual liberty.

The case for national divorce

Proponents of national divorce argue that decentralization would create laboratories of liberty, empowering individuals through diverse governance options. Citizens could “vote with their feet,” choosing jurisdictions aligning with their values and preferences.

Furthermore, advocates emphasize how competition among newly independent states could foster policies that attract residents and businesses, leading to more freedom and choice for individuals.

Proponents contend that a fractured nation would not lead to conflict but would instead result in a diverse yet harmonious patchwork of smaller entities, trading with one another, but ultimately each free to go their own way.

This vision would align with the principles of decentralized governance and the empowerment of local communities, allowing for a more responsive and tailored approach to governance.

The case against national divorce

Skeptics argue that national divorce could backfire, leading to more jurisdictions imposing their own anti-liberty measures, similar to existing national governments. 

They stress the value of a united front against threats to liberty, suggesting that a fragmented nation might struggle to present a cohesive defense of individual rights on the international stage. Unity, they assert, strengthens the voice of liberty against external pressures.

Moreover, critics of national divorce assert that fear and division serve as tools of tyranny, and emphasize that friends of liberty should focus on uniting Americans against authoritarianism rather than fostering divisions.

Often, the real political divide is not between red and blue states but between rural and urban areas. For a clear example, we need only look at election maps showing results by county in states like New York or Illinois. 

If states were to go their separate ways, it is also worth considering the prospect of conflicts arising between them. After all, as Thomas Sowell would put it, history is replete of examples of larger countries bullying smaller countries.

Ultimately, the core of the argument against national divorce is suggesting that drawing borders between people and their government, rather than between people, is the key to promoting individual liberty.


The debate over national divorce and its impact on individual liberty is complex and multifaceted. 

Advocates highlight the potential benefits of decentralized governance, competition among states, and the empowerment of citizens. 

On the other hand, critics emphasize the risks of increased fragmentation and the importance of a united front in defending individual rights.

As the liberty movement grapples with these contrasting perspectives, it is essential to consider the long-term implications of any proposed changes to the nation’s structure.

Whether national divorce would truly enhance individual liberty or lead to greater challenges remains a contentious topic, demanding careful examination and thoughtful discourse within the liberty movement and beyond.

The question of national divorce and its relation to individual liberty will be an important topic of discussion at Students For Liberty’s upcoming LibertyCon International

Ryan McMaken, Executive Editor at the Mises Institute, and Jonathan Casey, Chair of the Libertarian Party Classical Liberal Caucus, will debate whether or not a national divorce will lead to more individual liberty.

Students For Liberty’s flagship annual event, LibertyCon International will be held in Washington, D.C., on February 2-4, 2024. It promises to be the place for engaging with leading experts and connecting with others who share a dedication to advancing pro-liberty ideas and creating a freer future.

Click the button below to sign up for updates and secure your spot at this exciting event. We can’t wait to see you there!

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.