If D&D was to be truly modular...

...then it would make race, class, theme and background all be plug-ins to a basic character template.

In other words, you'd have a base character that could be made up with ability points, basic attacks, basic defences, etc. that could be levelled from 1 to 20 without ever adding anything else. Plug-in a race and that adds X, Y & Z. Plug-in a class and that adds, A, B & C. Plug-in a theme and a background in just the same manner and voila, you have a PC. 

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

...how is that not what they've already done?  Hell, as soon as they created a unified XP chart (rather than each class gaining levels at different rates), they had that. 
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