Disclaimer. This is theoretical only. Various sides in modern politics want to win, not to be left alone. Besides I cannot imagine a new constitutional convention going well.
Background. Before the Civil War a high federalism prevailed. From the Civil War to Wilson/FDR a moderate federalism was in place. Progressives sought and succeeded (with the help of World Wars) in centralizing power to curb the abuses of machine politics at the state and city levels. This mostly worked, but even as they succeeded large business interests were scaling up. Now regulatory capture at the federal level is almost complete. This proposal is to revert to moderate federalism and curb the oppression of sub-entities by allowing people to move.
Proposal 1. New smaller states. In order to make movement practical and states more responsive to their citizens, large states need to be broken up. This also reduces the impact of majority of the tyranny, as minority political interests will be less in each state. Maybe 70-110 states?
The Senate. One senator from each state instead of two. In an era of slow communications, two provided needed redundancy but no longer adds much except slightly more representative but not really. One per state will keep the Senate a workable size. Additionally Senators should be appointed by state governments, not popular vote as this gives them an incentive to vote for states’ rights instead of increasing their power.
The House. In order to reduce the increased power of the state government above, representatives are no longer by district but chosen by vote in a party, which then draws its districts and votes for representatives within that district. (This may need some more thought, but the goal is to reduce the power of states to gerrymander)
Metro States. It is easy to see that a large political divide is between large urban centers and the smaller cities, towns, and ruralia. This means that for people living in the chunk of land attached to a large city, they are ruled by people who don’t necessarily understand them nor their way of life. Sometimes the reverse is true with a medium city ruled by the rest of the state. I propose the top metropolitan areas be made into their own states and be divested of the surrounding land. Using Population-explorer.com I throw out the following metro-states: New York, Philly, DC, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago-Milwaukee, Miami, Tampa-Orlando, Minneapolis, Kansas City-Independence, Dallas-DFW, Houston-Galveston, Denver-CO Springs, Phoenix-Mesa, LA-Anaheim-Long Beach, San Fran-San Jose-Oakland, Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia. The exact number would depend on maintaining a balance of power of urbanites at the federal level set against the desire to separate in individual cases. Generally a metro state will consist of several cities, each city no larger than one can commute about 30 minutes to its boundaries. Exceptions may be made for strong historical/practical reasons. In researching metro areas it seems there is some power in having different administrative regimes next to each other-this is the principle of being able to easily vote with your feet and shop between governments.
Land States – This will be drawn with more of an emphasis on the shape being east-west instead of north-south. The North-South orientation made sense as states were carved from a frontier that was north-south. But the frontier days are long gone. Look at http://www.unz.com/jman/the-genetics-of-the-american-nations/ . States that go more east-west are more likely to capture like-minded people. Additionally agriculture zones are east-west. Perhaps in the mountain west watersheds could be taken into account. Lots of factors but I think we could do better states than the legacy ones, maybe some way to dissolve and reform states? Of course I live in a state with little pride and is not in the orbit of any state just because there are too many to choose from: TX, CA, the nation of Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and mine (the fed gov).
Immigration – States should be able to control immigration into their states. An ability to settle large amounts of people in a state is the ability to destroy it and remake it another image. I think immigration would be a much less divisive issue if the states had some say in this-not a 100% say, but a lot more than now. Citizens of course can settle as they will.
Ports and highways – Movements of goods and citizens cannot be restricted by individual states. Large Ports that serve much more than the state it is located in now belong to the federal government. Sorry Seattle, you can’t decide that oil cannot flow through your port.
Anti-trust and regional centers – Along with our invigorated political entities, we need to start anti-trusting or nationalizing various industries. Comcast is a biggie, Social Media/internet may be ripe for the utilities treatment, or be the new postal service, Anyways, IMO there is a long list of too big to be private entities that needs addressing.
Electoral Votes Apportionment – In order to break down political bubbles, I think that electoral votes should be awarded proportionally. That way there is an incentive to campaign in more than just a few battleground states. However, realistically there are a lot of places that are bubbles and that won’t change, so I propose proportional until a candidate gets over 62% in which case he wins all. This also reduces the incentives/opportunities to voter fraud.
Final Note: Historically this would be like the Holy Roman Empire with its lands and free cities. Since this is historically prob the most functional long lasting federalism, I am confident this is generally a good idea w/ re to federalism.