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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why is the 17th Amendment Suddenly Controversial?

Seriously, America, what the hell? Why would anyone want to repeal the 17th Amendment? Why would you want to make things less democratic?

I don't know, but  apparently a lot of people do. Just type "17th Amendment" into Google and see what comes up:

Republican Candidates Call for Repeal of Seventeenth Amendment ...

Nov 1, 2010 ... One of the clearest measures of anti-Washington feeling this election year is the attack on a little-remembered, century-old amendment to ... - Cached

Repeal the 17th Amendment

Oct 25, 2010 ... This web-log calls for the repeal of the 17th Amendment and addresses the hegemony committed by the US Senate. The first significant step to ... -

Repeal the 17th Amendment? - By John Yoo - The Corner - National ...

John Yoo writes on NRO: One popular idea making the rounds among some conservatives and Tea Partiers is a call for the repeal of the 17th ...

Repeal the 17th Amendment – Tenth Amendment Center

Oct 24, 2008 ... The 17th Amendment caused a failure in the federalist structure, federal deficit spending, inappropriate federal mandates, and federal ... -  
and it goes on and on. I don't get it. what is the motivation for wanting to go back to having senators appointed by state legislators? So I checked out d=some of their arguments:

The 17th Amendment caused a failure in the federalist structure, federal deficit spending, inappropriate federal mandates, and federal control over a number of state institutions.
The amendment has also caused a fundamental breakdown in campaign finance issues with respect to United States Senators. As to United States Senators, campaign finance reform

Also, it has caused plagues and pestilence, earthquakes and famine and the cancellation of Deadwood.

The first significant step to remove the domination and unmistakable corruption deriving from the Federal Government is to repeal the 17th Amendment. Americans should fear the steady hegemonic growth by the Senate oligarchy because the US Constitution cannot be spoiled by bombs, the courts, or the President, but only through malevolent legislation.
Because nothing puts a stop to corruption faster than state governments having the ability to appoint senators. 
The most efficient method of regaining the original constitutional balance is to return to the original constitutional structure. If senators were again selected by state legislatures, the longevity of Senate careers would be tethered to their vigilant defense of their state's interest -- rather than to the interest of Washington forces of influence.
Right, because now if the voters aren't happy with the job their senators are doing, they have absolutely no recourse. Oh, if only there were some way, some method by which voters might effect change in Washington. If only there were some sort of mechanism by which the voters could say, replace their current senator with a new one.  If only there was some sort of process by which every, oh say six years or so, senators would have to go back to the voters of their states and ask to be sent back to Washington for another term. And if the voters weren't happy with the job their senators were doing they would have some way of saying "no, Senator! We are going to send this fellow in your place, as we suspect that he might better serve our interests." Well, a guy can dream can't he?

Oh, the last little bit of unassailable logic comes not from some random weirdo with a blog, but from very serious commentator Tony Blankley 

Blankley justifies his absurd position  absurdly, going on to say:

Senators still would be just as likely to be corrupted. But the corruption would be dispersed to the 50 separate state legislatures. The corruption more often would be on behalf of state interests.
The time effort and expense it would take to amend the Constitution would be a small price to pay to acheive the re-location of government corruption.

The corruption more often would be on behalf of state interests. And its remedy would be achievable by the vigilance of voters for more responsive state legislative seats (typically, about less than 50,000 residences per state legislator), rather than Senate seats (the entire population of the state -- usually millions.)

So, if there was a problem with a senator, all the people would have to do is vote in a bunch of new state legislators, who would then hopefully appoint a somewhat better senator. That's much simpler than having to um, vote for a new senator. 

So, sure let's go back to the old ways. Senators appointed by  state legislatures, only white, male property-owners get to vote, and hey, why don't we restore the monarchy? That used to work pretty well.


Brian said...

I came to the belief that it was needed over 6 years ago when I was in graduate school and we were studying unfunded mandates and the federal budget, which has grown exponentially since WWI. Some believe it was WWII, but it can really be traced back to WWI.

That led me to the 16th and 17th Amendment, which were enacted shortly before WWI. Then I began to read the founders writing and the US Constitution, at which point I realized the 16th and 17th Amendments were the most unconstitutional laws we ever created.

With no way for this country to pay of the interest on the $1.7 trillion debt, let alone the principle, how else are we going to control the oligarchs in Congress, but the way the founders intended.

If you have another way to solve the problem, then let's hear it.

Professor Chaos said...

Hey, I'd like to pay down the debt as much as the next guy. I just don't see any connection between the debt and our method of choosing senators. Changing how senators are (s)elected seems sorta like re-arranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship.

Brian said...

The research shows that there has been exponential growth in spending since the 17th Amendment. However it should be pointed out that this came with the national income tax (16th Amendment). One amendment gave the power to tax the citizen directly from the national government, and the other allowed for a small group to decide how it's spent with out the structural oversight the states provided. Basically it's like giving a sixteen year old daughter a credit card that has no limit.

The connections are there; I might suggest checking out some the articles I have posted on the right side of my web-log. While it's not exhaustive it is a good starting place.

Professor Chaos said...

Okay, I get that, but it seems more like an argument for repealing the 16th Amendment than the 17th. I will check out those articles, though cuz I feel like I'm missing something.