Breaking up is hard to do. But that doesn’t stop many states from trying.

A man covers his face with a bandana
A man wears a face covering that reads "secede" outside the Texas state capitol on January 16, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Supporters of former President Donald Trump gathered at state capitol buildings throughout the nation today to protest the presidential election results and the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Sergio Flores | Getty Images

It’s a headline that could be ripped from the past: Shocking poll finds many Americans now want to seceded from the United States.

But it’s based on a study that came out last week. It found that 66 percent of Republicans in the South would like to secede and form their own country. Not to be outdone, 47 percent of Democrats in the West feel the same.

Those numbers are the highest they’ve been in years and reflect the polarization of our moment, but they aren’t necessarily a new trend. Residents of more rural areas have tried to leave states dominated by large, urban centers. Californians have considered splitting the state numerous times. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan aimed to become the state of Superior. Meanwhile, regions like the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are fighting to gain statehood in the first place.

Some political commentators say splitting big states would be a good thing. Others point to the fact that it’s all but impossible to achieve. Is this an idea whose time has finally come? On Monday, host Kerri Miller investigated the possibility of the splitting states.

Guests:

  • Richard Kreitner is a writer for The Nation. In 2020, he published “Break It Up: Secession, Division and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union.” 

  • Eric McDaniel is an associate professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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