The world has changed, and it keeps on changing. Humankind started somewhere and, from there, somehow spread into civilizations across the world. From Hammurabi’s Law, to Athenian direct democracy, to Roman imperialism, to a long era of feudalism and monarchical wars, humankind has continued to rediscover how we governor ourselves (or, often times, how few dictate the majority.) The United States was once a newly independent civilized power of the Western Hemisphere that rejected nobility, promoted Darwinistic liberty (which was preferable to be being born in a class from which one can no escape,) and was concerned simply that its own side of the Atlantic (and eventually the Pacific) was free from the imperialistic inhumanities that plagued the Old World. Beginning with Teddy Roosevelt’s journey to rid the then-malignant Spain from our hemisphere, and developing with American leadership in two dreadful world wars that reshaped world order, the United States has found itself on top of the world, a position hard to give up, even for a country founded on principles that didn’t even slightly promote the idea of being an omnipresent military power.
Fast forward to today: the developing world is developing, and all of the developed world, except our great nation as of this past couple years, is fading to make way for a global world in which no single nation will unequivocally “be on the top.” Our world is becoming global, as democracy and internationalism spreads, and the definition of “where we’re from” is transforming, as it had already moved from colony to State to nation. In our modern society, Americans belong to their metropolitan area, and in another layer, to their local community. As the world globalizes and localizes, The United States needs to adapt our own domestic policy and order to recognize the rise of global localism.
The New York metropolitan area exists in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The Philadelphia metropolitan area exists in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The Chicago metropolitan area exists in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. Despite that metropolitan areas have so little coordination with the State or States they exist in, metropolitan areas remain to be an idea but not a reality. Our country is full of countless counties, many of which have as many people as a few towers in Manhattan, but those counties, like States, arbitrarily divide metropolitan areas or misrepresent rural areas, due to their outdated and unnecessary borders. Our country needs to adapt our government to our societal reality: a nation with metropolitan areas and local communities within those metropolitan areas. Counties should be abolished, and States should hold more limited functions. It is both conservative and progressive to allow decentralized government, and I can assure you States aren’t the best example of that.
Our federal government should work in conjunction with metropolitan areas and communities, not in spite of them, by giving localities direct power in running our national government. Our federal government can maintain responsibility for national defense and security, old age entitlements, diplomacy and the progressive distribution of revenue to metropolitan areas, so that metropolitan areas can have adequate funds to manage their own needs more effectively. Ideally, our federal government’s system must change. We should reform Congress into a parliamentary system with population-proportional districts that avoids deadlock and requires cooperation. We should also have a reformed Senate that consists of delegates from each and every metropolitan area or rural region, for which each delegate’s voting power would be proportional to its metropolitan area’s or rural region’s population. We must still elect a President, but that President should hold a role of Commander-and-Chief, head of foreign policy, and Head of State, but not that of dictating our diverse nation’s domestic policy.
Metropolitan areas or rural regions can raise revenue through progressive property taxes, in which every homeowner would receive a generous flat federal rebate on taxes, and in which every household would be entitled to a cap on its property taxes relative to their household size and income. Under such a system, regressive and harmful sales taxes could be abolished, and income taxes would be levied solely through the federal government, to prevent flight to tax havens. Metropolitan areas and rural regions could determine their own systems of governments, as long as their governments have progressive systems of property taxes, as long as their politicians are directly elected, and as long as those directly elected governments allow their residents to elect their metropolitan Senator through popular vote.
Metropolitan areas in conjunction with small, self-defined communities could decentralize some political and certain revenue powers to community governments, further representing people as they should be in the 21st Century. Rural regions that function like metropolitan areas could also allow their rural residents to form similar communities. (In fact, I envision that many rural regions would decentralize much of their governments, due to the lack of density.)
More and more, we see that mayors or councils of politically like minded cities can get things done, and I think it is fair to assume a decentralized form of government that represents humans in modern fashion would have the potential to make our country work for all Americans. Of course, the problem with this theory is that it’d take quite a bit of effort and support to pass through as Constitutional Amendments. Despite that, I am confident our Founding Fathers would see this as a just adaption to our changing world, and I’d hope today’s citizens and politicians could agree on that. Our country needn’t move left or right, but forward, so it’s worth my, or any good citizen’s, effort to give enough of a damn to keep America great through positive evolution, as humankind has endured since its inception.