The Center for Senate Reform and Realignment (CSR&R)

The CSR&R is a non profit organization dedicated to the mission of advancing and promoting the passage of a Constitutional Amendment to disrupt, reform and realign the U.S Senate to reflect the urban demographics of the United States of America. The Constitutional Amendment would add thirty three new U.S. Senators to represent the most populated Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA's) in the United States. 

North America at night

Urban America

The 21st Century has been characterized as the Century of the City. Today, approximately 80% of the U.S. population lives within an urban metropolitan area.  Cities and urbanism in general have long been acknowledged as the primary drivers of economic, cultural and civic development throughout the world. In the U.S. they are the centers of population growth, economic activity, technological advancement, cultural diversity and have taken the lead in our country’s quest to grow and thrive in the global economy. Cities are the true engines of America’s greatness.

NASA Photo   East Coast of U.S. at night

Imagine that you are a passenger on the International Space Station and you are passing over the eastern portion of the United States. It is late in the evening on earth and you look down and marvel at the lights below that stand out against a black background.  You notice that the lights merge into a bright mass that runs along a large portion of the East Coast.  Within the mass of lights you can begin to discern that the brightest clusters are major metropolitan areas.  Looking closer you can see the lights of the major metropolitan areas. 

NASA Photo 

A typical Metropolitan U.S. City at Night:  

Baltimore, Maryland                 

In the NASA photo above, you are looking at the Baltimore metropolitan area and the radiating lines and patterns of light that make up its unique geographic fingerprint.  Only by seeing the actual urban metropolitan area defined by the patterns of light can you begin to see that the artificial political boundaries that separate us are not the true indicators that define the greater whole.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Delineations

A Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and is used by the Census Bureau and other federal government agencies for statistical purposes.  In the United States, the MSA is a geographical region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area.

MSA Regional Governance

How are the MSA’s being governed? In a word, they are “not”. However, there are in place, throughout the U.S., many regional governance models that offer support to the MSA’s.  But none are using the MSA building block as the basis of their regional planning model.

The Baltimore-Columbia-Towson MSA   

Boundaries indicate the outline of the MSA 

 

The maps above define the scope of the Baltimore Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The MSA is the term of the model used by the U.S. Census Bureau to define major and minor metropolitan areas. The official nomenclature of the Baltimore MSA is the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson MSA and it includes the City of Baltimore, the surrounding municipalities of Columbia and Towson, as well as the counties of Baltimore, Hartford, Ann Arundel, Queen Anne’s, Howard and Carroll.  However, it is much more than a bureaucratic term; it represents the regional dynamism and energy embedded within that City, its major municipalities and its suburban regional counties.

The Great Urban/Rural Divide

Our fledgling republic was much different in the 18th Century. At that time the thirteen colonies were predominantly rural and agrarian. In fact the first original states were 80% agrarian and 20% urban and stand in stark contrast to the urban rural distribution that shapes our country in the 21st Century.  From the very beginning of our democracy, there has been a gulf between these two spheres of influence. 

Urban Coalition of Political Power

Imagine a time in the not too distant future, or perhaps in the very distant future, depending on how the political winds are blowing, when a City could have its own U.S. Senator that would represent its entire Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It would have unprecedented political clout and power as part of an urban coalition within the U.S. Senate.  It could be one of the 33 MSA’s that would join the existing one hundred Senators, enlarging the U.S. Senate to a grand total of 133 seats.  And all other metropolitan urban areas and regional entities in the country could gain political power by virtue of having an urban coalition voice in the U.S. Senate. 

Steps to Senate Reform and Realignment

It is safe to say that we are experiencing a major shift in the social political arena in the country at this time and it is likely we will continue to experience such disruption in the foreseeable future.

Political Change and Reality

Now is the time to begin the process for political change. It was Thomas Jefferson who said “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political as storms in the physical. …It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government”.

The Constitutional "E" Clause

The political reality of reform and realignment of the U.S. Senate with the passage of a Constitutional Amendment would literally be a revolutionary effort.  The Constitutional Amendment that is being proposed is unprecedented in American history. 

Urban Economic Baseline                                  

Consider the following facts:

  • About half of the U.S. population lives within one of the 48 major metropolitan urban centers in America. 

  • Eighty five percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is produced in 259 major and minor urban metropolitan areas throughout America.

Alternate Realities Seeking Equality

Looking at the bigger picture today we can find examples of gross inequality in the Senate. The reality is that California has the same number of U.S. Senators as a smaller or significantly less populated state such as Wyoming or Delaware and this discrepancy clearly shouts out that something is wrong.  It is little wonder that the states of Texas and California are anxious to seek some kind of political balance over the existing status quo of distribution of power. Over the last couple of years California has envisioned a breakup of their state into six smaller mini states to increase their political power and influence.

State/MSA Ranking Chart 

The State and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Population Comparison Chart includes the largest 33 MSA’s and the 50 States in descending order. The reason the top thirty three MSA’s have been selected for Senate inclusion under the reform and realignment effort is for political expediency.  Thirty three represents the optimal number of MSA’s that could conceivably be approved in a Constitutional Amendment. 

Merged Urban Center Examples

As we mentioned earlier, there are now and there will be in the future mergers and acquisitions that will change the list of the top  33 MSA’s.  The Dallas Ft Worth area is a classic example of two urban centers that have merged to form One MSA.

Process for 33 new Senator Inductees into the Congressional election process

 

First Group -        11 in at earliest election cycle

                                           

Second Group -  11 at the next election cycle                                                                  

Third Group  -     11 at the next election cycle

MSA's as Geopolitical Contiguous Overlay Zones  

One of the most unique attributes of an MSA is that it can transcend state boundaries. It is this unique aspect of the contiguous overlay zone that allows it to exist in the superimposed reality of a multi dimensional entity that is both a part of the City/State/Region matrix yet separate from its host State of origin.  It exists on its own unique Geo Spatial plane that transcends the states boundaries.

The Grand Compromise

A brief history of the Grand Compromise:

Because of the importance in understanding the magnitude of trying to pass a revolutionary Constitutional Amendment, we need to examine Article V of the Constitution, specifically the portion of Article V that states “… that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate”. This language represents one of the most basic fundemental ideas in the Constitution.

In order to understand it, we must go back to the origins of the Grand Compromise and dissect the reasoning that went into the final language during the 1787 Constitutional Convention. 

U.S. Constitution

ARTICLE 1      SECTION 1                                                                                                        

“All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

ARTICLE 1     SECTION 3

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State…”

ARTICLE V                                                                          

… and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

What is an Entrenched or Entrenchment Clause?

An entrenched clause or entrenchment clause of a basic law or Constitution is a provision that makes certain amendments either more difficult or impossible to pass, making such amendments inadmissible. Overriding an entrenched clause may require a super majority, a referendum, or the consent of the minority party.

Once adopted, a properly drafted entrenchment clause makes some portion of a basic law or constitution irrevocable except through the assertion of the right of revolution.

The New Constitutional Amendment

As mentioned previously, the new Constitutional Amendment that is being proposed does not infringe upon the “Entrenchment Clause” of the Constitution, because this new Constitutional Amendment is proposing that a new layer of representation, within the parameters of the Constitution would be established that is separate and unique from the current political system.

 

If the Constitution is based on the premise that the bifurcation of power between the Federal and State spheres of influence is the preferred model, then the inclusion of an urban layer of governance also needs to be part of that equation.  Instead of a bifurcation of power sharing, we should strive to have a “trifurcation of power sharing”.  

 

Because of the unique MSA Contiguous Overlay Zone relationship between the States and MSA’s there is a new typology of governance and power sharing because MSA’s can transcend the boundaries of the states when necessary. This ability to transcend State boundaries signifies that they are both one with the states and yet separate from the states. Making the MSA’s a unique third entity in the trinity of shared power. Like Ireland’s St. Patrick’s shamrock analogy, you would have the Federal, State and MSA governance sharing recognized in the Constitution.  

 

If “States Rights” is a guiding principle and one of the philosophical political driving forces of the founding fathers and that philosophy is based on the principle that government works best, most responsibly and responsively when it is closest to the people it serves. Then the concept of “City (MSA) Rights” should be the ultimate conclusion to that line of reasoning.  Whatever the “States” can do, the “MSA’s” can do better.  And if the political progressives and liberals need a counter argument to the conservative “States Rights” mantra, it is “City (MSA) Rights”.

 

Therefore, under the new Constitutional Amendment, there would be three layers of political governance recognized in the Constitution and they would be at the Federal, State and MSA levels. And since there would be a “new layer of governance” within the United States, it would not, by definition, deprive the “States of their equal suffrage” in the U.S. Senate and would not infringe upon the “Entrenchment Clause” in the Constitution.

The new Constitutional Amendment would change the language in the Constitution to read:

ARTICLE 1   SECTION 3

FROM: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State…”

TO: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of  two Senators from each State and based on that cumulative number, there shall be an additional thirty three percent of Senators added to represent the most populated Metropolitan Statistical Areas, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and by the Census Bureau official MSA numeric rankings.

 

ARTICLE V  

FROM:  “…. that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate”

TO: “…that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of equal suffrage in the Senate.  And a limited number of designated Metropolitan Statistical Areas shall be accorded one Senator under the provisions of Article.1,  Section.3.

Requirements to Pass a Constitutional Amendment

Article V of the United States Constitution describes the process whereby the federal Constitution may be altered. 

Amendment proposals may be adopted and sent to the states for ratification by either:

A two-thirds vote of members present—assuming that a quorum exists—in both the Senate                   

(A Supermajority 67) and the House of Representatives (A Supermajority 292) of the United States Congress.   

The Political Reality of the Numbers

The political likelihood of getting this Constitutional Amendment passed in the current political climate is slim to none.  However, the need to bring this issue out into the light of day is paramount and necessary. 

Who would support a Constitutional Amendment

The final question posed is to whether or not this Constitutional Amendment could be introduced, voted on and eventually ratified will eventually be determined by the amount of support it can generate.  This question can only be posed and not answered at this time.

Will the basic concept for the need for change be supported or rejected?  

           

Will the potential desire for additional political power and influence be enough for a State to support the amendment?   

                                                            Will there be enough States that will support the overall philosophical premise of the amendment?

                                                            Will there be enough of an incentive for any particular state (red or blue) to support the Amendment? 

The "All American City" of Columbus

Political Strategies for a typical State such as Ohio 

The State of Ohio in the Heartland of America

Columbus MSA County Map  

Columbus MSA County Map  

Columbus is a perfect example of an MSA that has an urban liberal core surrounded by conservative suburban and exurbia outer rings.

 

The Columbus MSA Counties:

  

Liberal Core:  Franklin CO.

Conservative Rings:  Delaware Co., Morrow Co., Licking Co., Fairfield Co.  Perry Co., Hocking Co., Pickaway Co., Madison Co., Union Co.

Ohio, a state located in the heartland of America.

A state that has three cities that have won the “All-American City Award” multiple times with Cleveland a 5-time winner, Columbus a 4-time winner and Cincinnati a 3-time winner from the National Civic League. This state and these three cities embody the political and cultural divide that was expressed earlier. They exemplify the concept of the blue liberal urban core being surrounded by the conservative red rings of suburbia and exurbia. 

Why would it be in the best interest of Ohio, a “red” state, which is predominately conservative, support a Constitutional Amendment?  The reason would be that having three MSA’s linked either totally, such as the Cleveland MSA and the Columbus MSA or partially, such as the Cincinnati MSA within the States sphere of influence would be politically advantageous. The chance of getting either a conservative or liberal U.S. Senator to represent anyone of the three MSA’s will come down to the usual parameters that are prevalent in all elections.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if a conservative or a liberal represents the MSA. This is not a liberal or conservative issue; it is a political power distribution issue. The most important relevant factor is that voters living within in the MSA’s will have a voice in the U.S. Senate and that an urban coalition of senators are represented in the Senate to address the needs of all Americans.

Passage of the Constitutional Amendment will come down to a numbers game. 

National Views and Projections 

2016 Presidential County Map    

2016 Presidential State Map    

Amendment Ratification Projections:

(Need 38 States to Ratify):

 

Predominately Red States that would gain potential political leverage:         

12 Ratifying Amendment

States:  Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Indiana, Missouri

Red Swing States that probably would NOT ratify the Amendment

1 Not Ratifying Amendment

State: Tennessee

 

Predominately Red States and not gaining any potential political leverage:   

11 Not Ratifying Amendment

States:  Alabama, Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Iowa.     

 

Red Swing States that might potentially ratify the Amendment:        

6 Ratifying Amendment

States: West Virginia, Idaho, Louisiana, Utah, Arkansas, Kentucky

 

Predominately Blue States gaining potential political leverage:         

11 Ratifying Amendment

States: New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia  

 

Predominately Blue States not gaining any potential political leverage:     

8 Ratifying Amendment

States: Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Connecticut

 

A predominately Purple State gaining potential political leverage:                

Not Applicable

 

A predominately Purple State and not gaining potential political leverage:  

1 Ratifying Amendment                                                            

State: Maine

     

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