The Holy Roman Empire: A Model for the Future United States

The United States faces a myriad of problems today. Chief among them is disunity amongst the people. We are a nation of many individual communities, with different views on government and different cultures. One government with a single set of rules, or even fifty governments with fifty sets of rules aren’t enough.

It is my belief that the United States was designed for governing the country as it was in 1790 and this paradigm has been pushed and stretched as far as possible into fitting the 21st century.  We are no longer a union of rural, largely agrarian states, physically isolated from any potential geopolitical rivals. As the United States has changed, we’ve changed the government, first through the amendment process, and now with the judiciary simply ratifying major changes to government. Its a process that has been getting ever more grating as the 1790’s government is stretched to fit 2016 realities.

This is similar to the problems that faced Rome in the 2nd Century BC. What was once a city-state had expanded to control the Western Mediterranean and Greece. The huge increase in wealth coupled with a official citizenry mostly limited to the city of Rome lead to the first set of problems. Provincial governors, who had once commanded areas like Sicily or Northern Italy, now commanded the whole of Greece or Spain. This led, over the course of 150 years, to the transition from the Republic to the Principate. The key feature of the transition to the Principate is it was contiguous with the Roman Republic; there was no single revolution a citizen at the time would have used to demarcate between the two. However, by the time stability was restored under Augustus, the necessary changes in administration had taken place to ensure a stability that would last until similar convulsions would lead to the absolute monarchy of the Dominate.

Likewise, the best thing that could happen to the United States would be to find a way to evolve as a nation into something that better suits the fabric of modern America. I believe the answer lies in looking to the other Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire.

The Holy Roman Empire was, despite its name, the dominant secular medieval European institution. What had started with Charlemagne’s crowning eventually became a vast collection of hundreds of states spread across Greater Germany and northern Italy.

holy-roman-empire-1250-map-1

The idea, in effect, is a very weak central government, consisting of the absolute minimum of functions – the state department, the Navy, and enough judiciary to handle disputes between states. Something like Congress can exist for budgetary votes, but really it is a bare minimal state responsible just for the things that can possibly done at the state level.

Also, importantly, there would no longer be 50 states in America, there would be hundreds, for every little cultural and geographical niche in America. They’d be free to operate whatever kind of government they wanted, with some basic protections of individual rights.

The goal is that each little pocket of America would be free to have the kind of government it wants. Community bonds would be reforged and Americans will feel better about and have more trust in their government. America can be hundreds a pockets of strong communities governing themselves.

Here’s an example of what I’m thinking, and even these might be too big. I didn’t spend much time making this and didn’t try to be particularly careful, but it gives a general idea of what I’m talking about.

I will give it all some more thinking, and I’ll expand on the idea some other time.

MidAtlanticCountyMap

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