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U.S. Senator Zell Miller: Floor Statement on Repealing the 17th Amendment
senate.gov ^ | April 28, 2004 | U.S. Senator Zell Miller

Posted on 05/12/2004 7:26:09 AM PDT by ckilmer

Floor Statement on Repealing the 17th Amendment Remarks as Prepared for Delivery on the Senate floor U.S. Senator Zell Miller April 28, 2004

We live in perilous times. The Leader of the Free World's power has become so neutered he cannot, even with the support of a majority of the Senate, appoint highly qualified individuals endorsed by the American Bar to a federal court.

He cannot conduct a war without being torn to shreds by partisans with their eyes set not on the defeat of our enemy but on the defeat of our President.

The U.S. Senate has become just one big, bad, ongoing joke, held hostage by special interests and so impotent an eighteen wheeler truck loaded with Viagra would do no good.

Andrew Young, one of America's most thoughtful men, recently took a long and serious look at a U.S. Senate race and after visiting Washington concluded that the Senate is composed of:

‘"A bunch of pompous old (folks) listening to people read statements they did'’t even write and probably don't believe."

The House of Representatives, theoretically the closest of all the federal government to the people, cannot restrain its extravagant spending nor limit our spiraling debt.

And incumbents are so entrenched you might as well call off 80% of the House races. There are no contests.

Most of the laws of our land -- at least, the most important and lasting ones -- are made not by elected representatives of the people, but by unelected, unaccountable ‘legislators’ in black robes who churn out volumes of case law and who hold their jobs for life.

A half-dozen dirty bombs the size of a small suitcase planted around the country could bring this nation to its knees at any time. And yet we can't even build a fence along our border to keep out illegals because some nutty environmentalists say it will cause erosion.

This government is in one helluva mess, and frankly my dear, very few up here give a damn.

It's not funny. It's sad. It's tragic and it can only get worse. Much worse. What this government needs is one of those extreme makeovers they have on television, and I’m not referring to some minor nose job or a little botox here and there.

Congressional Quarterly recently devoted an issue to the "Mandate Wars" with headlines blaring, "Unfunded Mandates Add to Woes, States Say,"’"Localities Get the Bill for Beefed-Up Security,"’"Transportation Money Comes With Strings,"’and‘"Medicaid Stuck in Funding Squabbles."’ Etcetera. Etcetera.

One would think that the much heralded "Unfunded Mandate Reform Act" of 1995’never passed. The National Conference of State Legislatures has set the unfunded mandate figure for the states at $33 billion for 2005. This, along with the budget problems they’ve been having for the last few years, has put states under the heel of a distant and unresponsive government. That's us!

And it gives the enthusiastic tax-raisers at the state level the very excuse they're looking for to dig deeper and deeper into the pockets of their taxpayers.

It's not a pretty picture. And no matter who you send to Washington -- for the most part smart and decent people -- it is not going to change much. The individuals are not so much at fault as the rotten and decaying foundation of what is no longer a republic.

It is the system that stinks. And it’s only going to get worse because that perfect balance our brilliant Founding Fathers put in place in 1787 no longer exists. Perhaps then the answer is a return to the original thinking of those wisest of all men, and how they intended for this government to function.

Federalism, for all practical purposes, has become to this generation of leaders some vague philosophy of the past that is dead, dead, dead. It isn't even on life support. That line on the monitor went flat sometime ago.

You see, the reformers of the early 1900's killed it dead and cremated the body when they allowed for the direct election of U.S. senators. Up until then, U.S. senators were chosen by state legislatures, as Madison and Hamilton had so carefully crafted.

Direct elections of senators, as good as that sounds, allowed Washington's special interests to call the shots, whether it's filling judicial vacancies or issuing regulations. The state governments aided in their own collective suicide by going along with the popular fad of the time.

Oh, today, it’s heresy to even think about changing the system.

But can you imagine those dreadful unfunded mandates being put on the states or a homeland security bill being torpedoed by the unions if U.S. senators were still chosen by and responsible to the state legislatures?

Make no mistake about it. It is the special interest groups and their fundraising power that elect U.S. senators and then hold them in bondage forever. In the past five election cycles, senators have raised over $1.5 billion for their election contests, not counting all the soft money spent on their behalf in other ways. Few would believe it, but the daily business of the Senate is actually scheduled around fundraising.

The 17th Amendment was the death of the careful balance between state and federal governments. As designed by that brilliant and very practical group of Founding Fathers, the two governments would be in competition with each other and neither could abuse or threaten the other.

The election of U.S. senators by the state legislatures was the linchpin that guaranteed the interests of the states would be protected.

Today, state governments have to stand in line. They are just another one of many, many special interests that try to get senators to listen to them. And they are at an extreme disadvantage because they have no PAC.

The great historian, Edward Gibbons, said of the decline of the Roman Empire, “"The fine theory of a republic insensibly vanished."

That is exactly what happened in 1913 when the state legislatures, except for Utah and Delaware, rushed pell-mell to ratify the popular 17th Amendment and, by doing so, slashed their own throats and destroyed federalism forever. It was a victory for special interest tyranny and a blow to the power of state governments that would cripple them forever.

And so, instead of senators who thoughtfully make up their own minds, as they did during the Senate's greatest era of Clay, Webster and Calhoun, we now have many senators who are mere cat's paws for the special interests. It is the Senate's sorriest time in its long, checkered and once-glorious history.

So, having now jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge of political reality, before I hit the water and go splat,’ I have introduced a bill that would repeal the 17th Amendment. I use the word would,’not will, because I know it doesn't stand a chance of getting even a single co-sponsor, much less a single vote beyond my own.

Abraham Lincoln, as a young man, made a speech in Springfield, Illinois, in which he called our founding principles "a fortress of strength," but warned that they ‘would grow more and more dim by the silent artillery of time.’

A wise man, that Lincoln, who understood and predicted all too well the fate of our republic and our form of government. Too bad we didn't listen to him.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 10thamendment; 17thamendment; senate; senators; statesrights; zellmiller

1 posted on 05/12/2004 7:26:10 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: ckilmer
LOL! That's a good one! =)

It'd be more effective to repeal Article I altogether though..
2 posted on 05/12/2004 7:30:39 AM PDT by AntiGuv (When the countdown hits zero - something's gonna happen..)
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To: ckilmer
We have at least one good Senator.
3 posted on 05/12/2004 7:31:13 AM PDT by EternalHope (Boycott everything French forever. Including their vassal nations.)
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To: EternalHope
Unfortunately for us, he has enough sense to get out.
4 posted on 05/12/2004 7:32:42 AM PDT by mrbillxx
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To: ckilmer
I have introduced a bill that would repeal the 17th Amendment.

Prediction: It will go nowhere. The grand experiment has failed; we have but to vote ourselves more bread & circuses.

5 posted on 05/12/2004 7:32:49 AM PDT by sionnsar (sionnsar: the part of the bagpipe where the melody comes out)
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To: ckilmer; Jim Robinson
Hey Jim, looks like ol Zell has finally read your memo re: 17th Amendment.
6 posted on 05/12/2004 7:34:23 AM PDT by Seeking the truth (The Bullhorn that chased Jesse is right on my desk as I type this!)
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To: ckilmer
While they're at it, the 19th should be repealed as well.
7 posted on 05/12/2004 7:39:30 AM PDT by Freebird Forever
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To: ckilmer
I used to be pro-repeal on the 17th amendment, but the following thoughtful comment on Clayton Cramer's weblog has given me pause.
I'm sure this wasn't envisioned when the election of Senators by state legislatures was first conceived, but with the way district boundaries are drawn these days, the fact is that nowadays the HOUSE represents the state legislature (via gerrymandering), and the Senate represents the people of each state -- since state boundaries aren't redrawn after every census.

I remember one election when I lived in California (probably late 1980s) when about half the votes for Representatives went to each party, but about 2/3 of California's House delegation were Democrats. Why? The Democrats controlled the legislature -- and gerrymandered that, too, with similar results. At that time, California had a Republican Senator (Pete Wilson).

The pattern is probably similar in other states, though perhaps in some cases with the parties reversed. If the 17th Amendment were repealed today, it would not remove power from special interests, it would just ensure that ALL of Congress were chosen by gerrymandering, and it would make the political map at the time of the repeal more entrenched at the federal level.


8 posted on 05/12/2004 7:44:50 AM PDT by Fixit (My Pitiful Blog - http://comedian.blogspot.com)
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To: ckilmer
Excellent!
9 posted on 05/12/2004 7:49:05 AM PDT by Van Jenerette (US Army 1967-1991 ARMY Infantry OCS Hall of Fame - Ft. Benning)
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To: ckilmer
Read later.
10 posted on 05/12/2004 7:51:18 AM PDT by EagleMamaMT
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To: ckilmer
I believe it was a wise old Roman senator named Cato the Elder who remonstrated continually with the Romans about the corruption in their Republic.

And he used to end every speech with: "Cathage must be destroyed!"

Would that one senator would echo this with: The mad mullahs must be destroyed.
11 posted on 05/12/2004 7:55:06 AM PDT by wildbill
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To: Fixit
but the following thoughtful comment on Clayton Cramer's weblog has given me pause.

His argument is flawed. State legislatures are elected for the sole purpose of running state governments. Therefore, senators sent by the legislature will reflect the state's interests.

Even though House districts are heavily gerrymandered, the people in them still vote for candidates based on their popular interests, not the interests of the state in which they live.

Do you really think a gerrymandered House district is going to be more concerned with states rights issues than a non-gerrymandered one?

Having said that, this amendment is going nowhere for the simple reason that people today believe democracy is superior to republic, and so would think that making Senators selected by state legislatures would be a loss of freedom.

You want evidence? Just look at all the ranting about how Bush won the election with less than the popular vote. People don't understand that Presidents are elected by the states, not the people.

12 posted on 05/12/2004 7:55:13 AM PDT by frgoff
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To: ckilmer
Zell Miller is a great American.
13 posted on 05/12/2004 8:21:44 AM PDT by NCPAC
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To: NCPAC
If Zell Miller were such a great American he would have made these comments long before he announced his retirement.
14 posted on 05/12/2004 8:33:16 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium . . . sed ego sum homo indomitus" -- William Wallace (Mel Gibson))
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To: sionnsar
Don't be so dang mopey about this. It's amazing enough that it's even at this stage.
15 posted on 05/12/2004 8:36:48 AM PDT by inquest (The only problem with partisanship is that it leads to bipartisanship)
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To: ckilmer
It is the special interest groups and their fundraising power that elect U.S. senators and then hold them in bondage forever.

Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!

16 posted on 05/12/2004 8:44:14 AM PDT by JoeSixPack1
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To: inquest
That's my point... But I promise to cheer up if it gets legs.
17 posted on 05/12/2004 9:08:39 AM PDT by sionnsar (sionnsar: the part of the bagpipe where the melody comes out)
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To: ckilmer
This is awesome. Although it will go no where, I agree with repealing the *WORST* ammendment. Our founders were men who are in the category of the greatest men of the millennium. By "tweaking" their design to make it more "democratic" we issued our republic a warrant to a long, slow, ugly death.
18 posted on 05/12/2004 10:10:07 AM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Right makes right!)
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To: sionnsar
BUMP!
19 posted on 05/12/2004 10:10:47 AM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Right makes right!)
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To: ckilmer
Folks, if you want this you have to support it. Everyone here should contact his or her senators and strongly urge them to support or even co-sponsor Zell's proposal. I'm proposing just that on the Pennsylvania Locale board; you should all do the same on your own local boards.
20 posted on 05/12/2004 11:03:09 AM PDT by Doug Loss
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To: 3D-JOY; abner; Abundy; AGreatPer; Albion Wilde; alisasny; ALlRightAllTheTime; AlwaysFree; ...

PING!

There’s an interesting rebuttal to the pro-repeal argument in #8 and a counterargument to that rebuttal in #12.


21 posted on 10/24/2007 4:48:42 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Repeal the Terrible Two - the 16th and 17th Amendments. Sink LOST! Stop SPP!)
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To: ckilmer

Zell could throw in the obsolete 14th amendment as well.


22 posted on 10/24/2007 6:06:40 PM PDT by spectre (spectre's wife)
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To: ckilmer

bttt


23 posted on 10/24/2007 6:41:28 PM PDT by Albion Wilde (America: “the most benign hegemon in history.”—Mark Steyn)
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To: ckilmer

LOL I wondered why Zell was still in office...I thought he retired...

:)


24 posted on 10/24/2007 8:23:55 PM PDT by Tennessee Nana
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; justiceseeker93; ..
Note: this topic is from May 2004.
25 posted on 02/09/2009 6:41:16 AM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________ Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: ckilmer

bump for later


26 posted on 02/18/2009 5:47:54 PM PST by Delacon ("The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." H. L. Mencken)
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