Skip to comments.The 17th Amendment and Administrative Government
Posted on 04/08/2013 3:52:44 PM PDT by Jacquerie
Happy Anniversary. Today marks one hundred years of popularly elected Senators. Cant you feel the democratic love?
The 17th Amendment, which replaced State Legislatures as Senatorial electors with the general voting public, just doesnt get the credit it deserves. Without it, Obama could not rule as the despot he is.
Background. A wave of Populist/Progressive change began in earnest in the late 19th Century. Intellectuals such as Professor Woodrow Wilson rejected the Natural Law basis of our revolution and Declaration of Independence. Congress was too cumbersome, slow, restrictive and inattentive to the changing needs and demands of an emerging industrial society. The world of 1787 was inapplicable and the government designed by the men of that time had to go.
On the world stage, the decade of 1911-1920 will be remembered for tens of millions killed in WWI and revolutions in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia. In America, a bloodless Progressive revolution destroyed the fundamental federal structure of our republic, brought us an income tax, prohibited the manufacture of alcohol and granted suffrage to women.
As Europe felt by 1939 the harsh effects and aftermath of it revolutions, we live today with the far reaching consequences of the Progressive revolution beginning in 1913.
Central to the moldy government plan of 1787, American republicanism means consent of the people to the laws they live under. Progressives took this maxim and turned it to their purpose. Werent State legislators corrupt? Why shouldnt the people vote for Senators? Why the filter of State legislatures?
Despite history, arguments and logic to the contrary, the Progressive wave built and crested in a tsunami that overwhelmed a federal structure designed to cool the whims and desires of the people and divide power between those enumerated for the national government and un-enumerated powers remaining with the States.
Filtering the Popular Will. Central to supporters of the 17th, Progressives objected to the filter of State legislatures that stood between the people and the Senate. Unfortunately for our republican freedoms, Progressives merely substituted one filter and one law making body for another filter and another law making body. The 17th was supposed to make the Senate, and thereby Congress, responsive to the will of the people. Twenty years after ratification, it could be said to have worked, to the detriment of our republican freedoms. Represented by the people, the 1930s Senate acquiesced to popular will, a Progressive President, and passed his New Deal. Most horribly, FDRs popularly derived Senate consented to the appointment of radical Leftist judges. Enabled by the 17th, in fulfillment of Woodrow Wilsons wet Progressive dream, FDR set in motion todays tyrannical Administrative State, of lawmaking outside of Congress.
Prior to the 17th, the people elected State legislators to appoint Senators to participate in law making and defend State interests. Beginning in recent decades, the people elect Senators not so much to write laws, but to confirm a multitude of Secretaries nominated by the President to write regulations with the force of law. Through various rulings, Scotus allowed Congress to get away with vague laws that assign actual lawmaking to unelected agencies. By this skanky practice, Congress evades the burden of electoral blame for the oppressions of the EPA, HHS, DHS . . .
One hundred years after the 17th, the will of the people is still filtered, but with a tremendous difference. Instead of 535 lawgivers publicly debating back and forth the merits, demerits of a bill subject to the will of the people, the States, and possible veto by the President, regulations with the force of law are drafted in secret, subject to the will of one man, the President. Whereas prior to the 17th, States could consult and instruct lawmaking Senators, the people can neither instruct lawmaking bureaucrats nor boot them from agencies when they oppress us.
Conservatives smirked when Valerie Jarrett said the new administration was ready to rule from day one and when Obama said he would act if Congress did not. Equipped with power to nominate ambassadors, consuls, judges and public ministers, a radical Leftist President can nominate fellow radicals hostile to the foundations of our republic to law giving positions subservient to Him and Him alone.
Administrative Government is the freedom absorbing empire of bureaucrats that:
1.) Enables Congress to shift lawmaking authority to unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch.
2.) Simultaneously immunizes Congress from the popular effects of the resulting regulations.
While we conservatives gaze with awe at the wisdom of our Framers, Obama saw the reality of a corrupted Constitution. The reality is the law giving clause of Article I Section 1 to Congress, for all practical purposes, is a goner. It has been replaced with Administrative Government, a collection of agencies that write regulations, enforce their regulations, and often judge violations of their regulations. How did this happen?
The 17th Amendment was THE prerequisite for Administrative Government. Sold on bringing government closer to the people, it eventually had the opposite effect. It set events in motion that propelled us toward regulation making almost entirely isolated from popular will, and entirely isolated from the States. Instead of a single democratic House in Congress, there are two, where most members buy votes with tax plunder to the detriment of the larger interest.
Instead of fifty States responsible to appoint and occasionally instruct Senators on important issues, the people are expected to vote for Senators and the President . . . and then told to shut up and let the President rule with Secretaries whose nominations were rubber stamped by the Senate. We are told to keep quiet until the next election, when we will once again be complimented and cajoled to do our duty to immaculate the next class of rulers.
Thanks to the 17th Amendment, instead of voting for law makers, we increasingly vote for those who empower others to write regulations with the force of law.
The filter of State legislators was replaced with the filter of Senators. Whereas State legislators used to empower Senate lawmakers, now the Senate itself serves as intermediary between us and an Administrative Government that couldnt care less what the Constitution, We The People or the States have to say. Empowered by the 17th, Rinos and Rats slowly repealed the maxim of our Declaration of Independence, that government must rest upon the consent of the governed.
Conclusion. Valerie Jarrett was right. Vote, shut up, be ruled. Suckers.
If I had my way, senators in my state would win based on the number of congressional districts won.
Ironically, we’re very likely to switch to that system for presidential elections in Michigan.
Freepmail to . . .
Wilson was the prototype of every Ivy Leaguer to come after him. Got us into WWI... when we had no real interests in the European war. Shut down the stock market for four months. Set up the “War Industries Board” which effectively nationalized the economy during WWI.
Wilson craved power. Reading the history of the man, we see that he, like modern day Ivy League educated political hacks, craved power, despised the Constitution and Declaration, saw people as dumb fools to be manipulated and pawns to played.
As to his lasting legacy, the League of Nations, it was of course a total failure, as was the successor, the UN.
I rank Wilson as one of the worst US Presidents. I’d rate him as being second worst, after Buchanan, who was arguably the single worst POTUS, and our first homosexual POTUS.
Roosevelt won big electoral majorities in 1932 and 1936. By 1938, though, he'd lost momentum and lost seats in the Senate.
With indirect election, his majorities might have been a little less, the enactment of his policies a little slower, but when a president wins every state but two, how likely is it that even indirectly elected Senators would cross him?
The modern system of federal administrative agencies began with the Interstate Commerce Commission, established in 1887, 30 years before the 17th Amendment. The Federal Trade Commission (1914) also predated the 17th Amendment. After the 17th Amendment was ratified, no new administrative agencies of any importance were created until the 1930s (the SEC and FCC in 1934, the NLRB in 1935, the Civil Aeronautics Board in 1938). I don’t see the connection between administrative agencies and the 17th Amendment.
By 1942, FDR had appointed eight of nine justices to Scotus. Would State appointed Senators have consented to eight anti-10th Amendment judges? Not likely.
“no new administrative agencies of any importance were created until the 1930s “
yeah, by Roosevelt. That’s one of his points:
“Enabled by the 17th, in fulfillment of Woodrow Wilsons wet Progressive dream, FDR set in motion todays tyrannical Administrative State, of lawmaking outside of Congress.”
What had been missing until then was a national media to ‘filter’ politics to present issues from a standard national perspective instead of many different regional ones. The 1932 election was the first covered by a national media (ABC, CBS radio networks), and Roosevelt’s term the first covered by a national media.
‘Nationalization’ of media news made progessivism possible over the federalist limits of the Constitution, and the direct election of Senators facilitated that.
The most bizarre effect of the first nationalized media was the hiding of FDR’s severe physical condition.
For the senators the choice was between accepting direct election or eventually losing their power. Agitation for reform wasn't going to go away. Of course the Electoral College has survived, but there were serious scandal stories attached to the old Senate.
If the amendment were repealed and not likely to be restored, special interests would simply go back to pumping money into state legislatures, rather than into senatorial campaigns.
And why was the amendment passed in the first place? Because Woodrow Wilson had a solid majority in the House and (with liberal Republicans) in the Senate. You could get a major mandate for more government even under the old system.
However, I do note that two scholars apparently agree with you about Roosevelt. One reason why indirect election would have given FDR less power: state legislatures in those days gave more seats to rural districts with smaller populations. Courts changed this with the reapportionment decisions of the 1960s.
Would Scotus have risked retribution in that decision if States still appointed Senators?
Pimping thousands of state legislators is a different matter from waving campaign money in front of one hundred popularly elected Senators. In my first post, James Madison explained the fundamental reason for state participation in the government.
In the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, the purpose was to convince freeholders to vote for State Assemblymen that would vote for Lincoln or Douglas. Imagine treaties, international affairs, judgeships becoming once again an interest of the States.
Four justices on Scotus piss on the Constitution, cite foreign law . . . Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer would never have made it out of the Judiciary Committee.
Figures you’d be on the wrong side of this issue too. Anyone that doesn’t agree with this is a statist Federal Boot licker. Nothing less.
Hang in there X. The appointment of Senators by the states is a fetish around here.
If the Senators were still appointed by the states there would still be continual complaining about how they are nothing but creatures of the “xxxxxx industry” or the “yyyyy interest group”.
I know. People complain about "country club Republicans" and about how every Republican who gets elected turns out to be a RINO.
Who do they think their state legislators are? If they're not Democrats, they just might be country club RINOs -- more like Lindsay Graham than like anybody posting here.
Once upon a time, state senators and state representatives were chosen on a county basis, so counties with more trees than people could outvote large cities. It's not like that any more. There were too many complaints about rural "courthouse gangs," and the courts changed things.
Let state reps choose US senators and you'll get things pretty much as they are now, because state legislatures are representative of the people -- except you'll get a lot more junkets, perks, and bribes for the statehouse crowd.
Someone else on this thread mentioned the Lincoln Douglas debates and how those were meant to sway voters to elect state legislators who were pledged to support one or the other of those candidates, but that sort of voting led to the criticism that state legislators weren't being elected on their positions relevant to the state, but on who they would send to the senate.
Finally, by the time the 17th Amendment was proposed and passed, 33 states had already adopted laws more or less establishing direct election (usually a direct primary rubber stamped by the legislature). There was enough pressure from the states for an amendment that they threatened to call a constitutional convention--27 of the needed 31 states had publicly called for one. Fearing what else a constitutional convention might decide to do, the house and senate quickly passed the 17th, and ratification was rapid.
Thanks for the background. Drawing up plans for how things might work in an ideal world is one thing. But when one attempts to apply them to the real world the same forces and circumstances that have shaped our current situation are still at work and frustrate such projects.
One could say that election by state legislatures would make the federal government more restrained and put it under stronger controls. That just might be true. But once people have the right to vote directly for senators, they aren't going to give that right up.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.