The Birth of the American City-state
Mark Levin has proposed a series of "Liberty Amendments" to the Constitution through an Article 5 state convention. I have my own set of amendments which I hope to share here and add to the proposed Liberty Amendments. The first involves the resurrection of the city-state. This plan would take our largest cities, governed primarily by socialist Democrats, and separate them out as independent, self-governing, self-funding political units, with no connection to the states, but within the exclusive oversight of the federal government, just as the states are.
There is a huge separation in this country right now between the socialist big cities and the conservative countrysides. Many times, especially in California where I live, the socialist cities have enough people, and votes, to edge out the conservative countryside in every major state and federal election, despite the fact that the countryside constitutes a vastly larger area, and includes millions of people. Conservatives within that vast area are completely disenfranchised from true representation, even up to the president.
If you took San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles out of the state of California, and left the rest of the state alone to govern itself, the world of electoral politics, and every other issue, would completely change. Therefore I propose that cities over a certain size and metropolitan character be designated as city-states, that their legislators and officers be recalled from the state governments, that the city-states have no connection or ties with the surrounding states, that no person residing in a city-state may hold any government position in a state, and vice-versa, that crossing a city-state line is the equivalent of crossing a state line, and that the city-states become completely independent political, legal, and financial entities.
What is a city-state? the Webster definition is: "A state imade up of an independent city and the terirtory directly controlled by it." City-states go back to ancient times, and exist today as Singapore, Vatican City, and Monaco. They usually ended up being absorbed by the surrounding countries when the city-states were unable to adequately defend themselves. That wouldn't be a problem with U.S. city-states which would still be under the same protection as the rest of the country.
Why do this? Right now, socialist cities with huge, concentrated, liberal populations are free to elect, and therefore control, the state legislatures, governorships, and other offices. Cities can plunder the tax money, resources, water, and anything else they want from the rest of the state. To redress this grievous imbalance of power, and bring about fair and equal representation to the conservative countrysides, the major cities have to be separated out from the states. This would be done by counties, by geography, by status as a highly urban area, by metropolitan area designation, by transportation systems, by infrastructure, and by logic as to what would be a proper city-state. City-states would not violate current county and state boundaries, unless a city-state naturally crosses state lines, like Kansas City.
The best example I know is my own San Francisco Bay area, which is a well known socialist bastion, sanctuary city, source of huge welfare benefits, alleged voter fraud, illegal aliens, progressives, and a sinkhole of other taxpayer's money. All Californians pay taxes to support San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. So let's isolate them and make this the prototype city-state. Geographically, the area is surrounded by hills and centered around San Francisco Bay. Politically, it is overwhelmingly liberal Democrat. There are 6 counties that if combined would comprise the perfect city-state. Those would be San Francisco (It's both a city and a county) Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo Counties. The area has regional government and associations. They have regional public transportation, highways, airports, seaports, and rail lines. It has Silicon Valley, major universities, the Pacific Stock Exchange, and is a world-renowned tourist attraction. This area could easily support itself and govern itself. And then leave the rest of California alone.
The basic concept of the city-state is self-funding and self-governing, just like a state. They could pass confiscatory tax rates which people would either pay, or leave the city-state. The city-states could pass all the unconstitutional gun-ban laws they could get away with, while the states would be more free to honor the Second Amendment. The city-states could create their own laws and their own constitutions, and would be free to create virtual dictatorships with the approval of their constituents. The city-state could make the most elaborate and inefficient public transportation system possible, and pay the most outrageous wages and benefits to the union employees. But they would have to fully support the system with tax money only from within the city-state, not the rest of the state. City-states would set up their own courts, and run their own education, police, health, welfare, fire, and other departments.
The real benefit to the city-state system is that all the folks who are not in a city-state would regain their ideological representation. They would be free of the socialist cities and could elect a more conservative state legislature, governor, and other offices, and pass ballot initiatives more in line with their conservative values. The state executive departments, legislature and judiciary would not have any jurisdiction over the city-states, nor would state police have jurisdiction in city-states, and vice-versa. The states would prosper in federal elections. State congressional delegations would be free of their city-state former members. Congressional districts would change so they do not overlap states and city-states, so that they both elect their own representatives. Senators would be split with one senator being elected by the state, and one by the city-states within the state boundaries. The electoral college electors would be proportionally split into one group for the state, and one group for the city-states within. The state National Guard use in city-states would require agreements between the city-states and the states. The states would be free to explore their energy sources, use their natural resources, and have coastline jurisdiction where the land is not part of a city-state.
According to Listosaur.com there are 10 modern secessionist movements in the United States. The one thing they all have in common is a political minority that feels powerless because they cannot win elections or initiatives, since the majority population outvotes them every time. One way to solve all the separate secession movements is to unify them under the city-state reorganization of the country. In some of these cases liberal cities are dominated by a much larger conservative state majority, such as Miami, which would benefit by becoming a city-state and coming out from under Tallahassee. So how do we do this?
West Virginia, according to About.com U.S. Boundary History, was created when counties of Virginia did not vote for secession from the Union right before the Civil War, as the rest of Virginia did, and Congress voted to approve those counties becoming a separate state. Such a procedure could be followed again. In my state, all the counties not included in the San Francisco, Sacramento, or Los Angeles city-states, could vote to cast off the city-states and retain the name California. The city-states would retain their city names. The cities could vote themselves into city-state status if they meet the established criteria. The state legislatures could also designate their city-states, especially in states without ballot initiatives. But this could get really messy with all the potential legal challenges, as we are going into new ground here.
I came up with city-states as new political jurisdictions to add them to Mark Levin's proposal to amend the Constitution in an Article 5 state convention. A special commission from each state should designate the city-states within their state during this convention. Some states without huge metropolitan areas won't have any city states. City-states would only be the largest metropolitan areas like New York City, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, and Philadelphia for example. The state convention could ratify a master plan for city-states throughout the country, applying consistent criteria to create city-states and then amend the Constitution to accommodate them. The city-states would have the same status as states in relation to the federal government, they would have exactly the same powers as states, and would have the same protections and congressional oversight in the Constitution. The 10th Amendment and the Commerce Clause would have to be amended to include city-states. The big change would be amending Article 4 which concerns new states admitted to the union. The first paragraph of Article 4 could be amended to: "New states and city-states may be admitted by the Congress into this union. City-states shall be separate political entities, created by state legislatures or state ballot initiative, with all the powers and privileges of states." The rest of Article 4 should remain the same.
This change in political jurisdictions should address both the non-representation of counties outside the big cities, the drain on states by the big cities, and all the separate secessionist movements. I welcome comments and questions, and any good strategy for the implementation of city-states, within the United States, to make them a reality.
Greg Penglis is a flight instructor and author of The Complete Guide to Flight Instruction, and is starting a new, conservative, online news broadcast service called "Penglis Online News."