Skip to comments.Long past time to repeal the 17th Amendment
Posted on 11/21/2012 6:14:03 PM PST by Reagan‹berAlles
"What's wrong with the people choosing their own Senators?
For starters, this amendment strips power from the states, which ultimately strengthens the federal government. This Amendment removes an important check and balance between the federal government and the states."
Thank you! I was wondering if anyone would pick up on that. Definately NOT a democracy.
With all due respect, 17A did not delegate to Congress any more powers than it already had.
I have a few points to make about 17A. First, I question if one of the basic principles of the Constituton, the division of federal and state government powers, has ever been consistently taught in the nation's schools, both public and private.
Next, noting that electronic communications was still in its infancy by 1913, and also that most USA citizens were rurallites when the Progressive Movement spooked citizens into pressuring their state lawmakers to ratify 17A, I'll bet the average adult citizen, possibly even state lawmakers, didn't know what Congress's Article I, Section 8 limited powers were.
And the only reason that I can think of for ruralites wanting the right to directly elect their federal senators is the following. Perhaps they wanted a bigger voice in how Congress managed the postal service, the postal service basically the only daily domestic service that the Founders had authorized Congress to regulate as evidenced by Clause 7 of Section 8.
Again, I'll bet ruralites didn't know what Section 8 is.
Next, the 17A and the Progressive Movement to reform the electoral college are different sides of the same coin imo. More specifically, the goal of the Progressive Movement is arguably to unconstitutionally centralize government power in DC by doing the following. The Progressive Movement is doing so by first having successfully wrestled control of the federal senate from state lawmakers, wrestling control of the Oval Office from the electoral college the final major hurdle.
While you make good points about the Constitution’s being amendable, etc, you do not seem to make allowance for even the possibility that it could be amended in a less than salutary manner.
Your best point is the difficulty in believing that career (state-level) politicians can be trusted to select better senators than are currently being elected popularly. That is a tough one.
More importantly, however, in my view, is that you fail adequately to take into consideration that, under the current (post-Seventeeth system), we the people for the most part really do not in any meaningful way “choose our Senators.”
Rather we choose between the two surviving big spenders. Virtually no one wins a state-wide election in a large state such as California, Texas, or Florida without running a campaign financed by tens of millions of dollars.
This is why you are — in my view — ultimately incorrect in your view. You fail to acknowledge that the senate candidates from which we are forced to choose today are put there — 90% of the time, anyway — by special interests. How is that an improvement over the pre-Seventeeth system?
Of the 10% of the candidates that are not put in play by special interests — let’s name three: Angle, Akin, and Cruz — most are mowed down by opponents who are backed byh special interests. For the exceptions, such as Cruz, we can all be thankful, but I think either system — pre- or post-Seventeeth — will occasionally pick an outstanding candidate such as Cruz.
I say: Repeal the Seventeenth. How can it be any worse than what we have now?
Ultimately I care only about the ends and not the means, so given our difficulty in winning the Senate and the fact we have the majority of legislatures I am tempted to consider flip flopping on this, only for that reason.
The other “arguments” in favor remain silly. That idea that state governments (READ: STATE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS) should be represented in Washington is absurd. Even GOP state governments tend toward corruption like ALL governments. I would rather take my chances with an open election.
The further claim that Senators would somehow vote differently (read: “better” or “more constitutionally”) if chosen by legislatures is one of the top 5 most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard in my life. Democrats and RINOs in state legislatures don’t care about the constitution anymore than their counterparts in Washington do. If anything they would vote worse, no democrat for example would dare oppose his party on anything for fear of being replaced when fellow party loyalists are his only electorate. The “state rights” people never admit it but state governments (and local) are just as bad as the feds. The problem is bad government, not bad federal government.
The other one the “how dare you change what the founders put in” one is even lamer. The founders are the ones who made the constitution amendable. I don’t recall any advocate of this repeal ever addressing that counter argument.
They passed the amendment for good reason, there was massive corruption in the process and deadlocks when they couldn’t agree (I suppose this would happen in any state nowadays that has split control of legislative chambers).
Knee jerk bad mouthing of anything that was passed during the so called “Progressive era” is not an argument. They also passed good things like this, and the one letting women vote, though with recent elections I must question that one ( ;) just kidding ladies).
Most importantly though is the fact that is is pipe dream of a small handful of paleo-conservative types. Not only will it never happen but an actual mainstream movement to try and make it happen will never happen.
What we need to do is elect conservative Republicans to office at all levels of government. That mission in no way would be aided by any attempt at what most people would view as taking away their right to vote for Senator and giving it to a bunch of politicians.
We must deal with reality, even if it were a good idea, which it’s not, it still would not be viable.
Not in the face Cripplecreek, please, we’ll have to agree to disagree.
Although I do not favor repeal and the legislatures going back to electing both Senators, I have a compromise idea of sorts that I’ll present:
Why not increase the membership of the Senate to 150 members ? In awarding an additional Senator per state, let that particular individual be elected by the legislature, whose mission would that to ostensibly represent state interests. Since the states have 2 elections every 3 cycles for a Senator, let the “off” election cycle be the one that elects the 3rd member in each state. Rather than have the number jump to 150 overnight, it would be phased in in three elections...
Elections would be held by a joint meeting of both houses of the legislature (except NE, which is unicameral), to be held in either November or December, preceding the convening of the next Congress. Those voting members cannot be lame ducks, these would be all the new members elected in November (or earlier in states that didn’t hold legislative elections that year). The new Senator can only serve a maximum of 2 terms (12 years) in a lifetime. (This, however, might see the individual jumping from a state-elected seat to a popularly-elected one). If a Senator resigns or dies, a Governor may not appoint an interim member, but would instead convene a special session of the legislature to elect a new member at the earliest possible time, where they would serve until the next regular election.
Under such a system, the GOP would win at least 11 new Senators for 2013 (AL/AK/AR/GA/ID/KS/LA/NC/OK/SC/SD) the Dems would get 6 (CO/IL/IA/KY/NH/OR), though KY might have enough of a Conservative Dem element to vote in a Republican.
Instead of what will be a 10-seat (55D/45R) Dem majority, it would shrink by half (61D/56R).
Assuming the numbers remained static and the legislatures roughly the same, 2015 would usher in 9 from each party: Republicans (AZ/FL/IN/MO/ND/OH/PA/UT/WI) and Dems (CA/CT/DE/HI/MD/NV/NY/VT/WA), increasing to 70D/65R (and add in that close to 10 Dem seats from the class of 2008 are winnable, means we could still reclaim the majority).
The final 15 in 2017 would add 8 Republicans (MI/MS/MT/NE/TN/TX/VA/WY) and 7 Dems (ME/MA/MN/NJ/NM/RI/WV), though in three of those latter states, the GOP either currently has an outgoing majority (ME/MN) and in 1 (WV), may be GOP by then (or some of the Conservative Dems would vote for a Republican). So you’d have 77D/73R, again assuming nothing changed.
The downsides to all this however are this: it’s no remote guarantee that said legislative-elected members would somehow adhere to the Constitution more. If anything, they may simply be a rubber-stamp for the party that chose them and puppets of the legislative leaders (i.e. Spkr. Mike Madigan in IL). The Dem members would almost be as uniformally execrable as they currently are. The GOP may similarly be disappointing, as their goals may simply be to get as much money for their states as possible, with anything else being secondary. It would potentially produce a huge class of RINOs. Worse than that, if the legislatures put up serious Conservatives, you could easily have a dissident RINO minority join with the Democrats to elect liberal Senators (such could happen, for example, in Alaska, where you have a bizarre Dem/RINO majority governing coalition). Even “Conservative” Texas has a liberal RINO House Speaker, despite a commanding GOP majority. My own state of TN has a two-year nightmare (from 2009-11) when an ugly dissident RINO decided to make common cause with the Dem minority and the powerful outgoing Dem Speaker to elect him, while keeping the minority Dems in power.
Similarly, it’s unlikely you’d potentially have a reverse scenario with the Dems making common cause to elect a GOP Senator, unless the Dem candidate was seriously flawed and controversial, and that Republican would almost assuredly be a liberal RINO (such as a Lugar/Murkowski/Hagel/Chafee type).
In fact, in having presented some of the downsides, I may have managed to convince myself of the fallacies in my proposal !
The rat/RINO coalition in the Alaska Senate is ended, GOP gained a 14-6 majority (with the rat leader winning by a few votes and facing a recount) and all but 2 RINOs made peace. The New President and Maj Leader will be Senators who were NOT in the coalition while 2 former traitors will chair the rules and co-chair the finance committees. Only 1 rat was given a committee chairmanship.
For some reason one Senator, rat Dennis Egan currently repping seat B and will for 2013 will hold seat P, did not have to face reelection. I don’t know why, very weird.
The RINOs ARE still there in both houses. Also a problem in Kansas. And would be in NH if we had kept control there. Almost a 3 party system in some states.
I support adding a third senator per state for independent reasons, but I would prefer that all three be elected directly by the people, not through state representatives elected in gerrymandered districts.
As for the phase-in of the third senator (irrespective of how he’d be elected), it couldn’t be done the way you say, DJ, since Article V of the Constitution (the one that permits amendments) specifically declares that no amendment may deny a state of equal representation in the Senate without its consent. So every state must elect a third senator at once, and the phase-in must be done the way that it was done for the 1st Congress—by making the initial term for the new senators 2, 4 or 6 years so that each class has the same number of senators and no state has more than one seat up the same year. So if the election for the third senator is in 2014, FL would elect a senator for 6 years (its current senators are up in 2016 and 2018), GA would elect a senator to an initial 4-year term (its current senators are up in 2014 and 2016), and RI would elect one to an initial 2-year term (its senators are up in 2014 and 2018).
Though many would balk at adding more seats to Congress I’d like 3 Senators as well. 1 Senator from each state in each cycle, nice and even.
Also expand the House a little bit. Especially if we ever do add PR as the 51st.
Egan isn’t likely to be in much danger, anyhow. He is the son of the 1st statehood former Governor Bill Egan, and has already served as Juneau Mayor (and Juneau is a Dem enclave).
435 is such an odd number (of course, it was briefly 437 from 1959-1963 when AK & HI were added, each then having 1 House member, with Inouye unimaginably still serving 53 years later). I don’t necessarily see a problem with increasing it to 501 seats (keeping an odd number to avoid a possible tie). That would assure a majority of states would get at least 1 additional member.
I think at least 1 FReeper or more have suggested increasing the membership to 1,000 or even 10,000. While 1,000 phased in over some time might be feasible, 10,000 would be too unwieldy and impossible to keep track of. If we adhered to the 30,000 per member requirement specified in the Constitution, we would have almost 10,500 members. California alone would have nearly 1,300 members (a nightmarish scenario). It would be like the NH House applied nationwide.
The Constitution set 30,000 persons as a minimum per CD, not as the ideal forever. I think that if we are to look at the original composition of the House and Senate for guidance a more instructive lesson can be drawn from the ratio of senators to representatives, which has an effect on the relative weight given to large states in the Electoral College, since each state gets the same number of EVs as the sum of its senators and representatives. The First Congress was composed of 26 senators and 65 representatives, a ratio of 2.5 representatives per senator. The ratio currently is 4.35 representatives, meaning that each large state has a heavier weight in the Electoral College than was the case originally (and, one could argue, was intended by the Framers: the 2 “freebie EVs” given to each state were 28.57% of possible EVs originally and only 18.96% today. I would amend the Constitution to increase the number of senators to 3 per state (which would have the added benefit of giving every state the opportunity to elect a senator (and thus affect control of the Senate) in every biennial election, so you don’t, say, shut out Virginians from U.S. Senate elections in 2010) and set the total number of representatives at 3 times the number of members of the Senate (unless that would yield an even number, in which case it would be 1+ the product of 3 times the number of senators), which with 50 states would give us 150 senators and 451 representatives.
Another benefit of such an amendment is that current states would not see their number of representatives drop in the Census following the admission of a new state; if a new state were admitted, the House wouldn’t revert to 435 members at the next Census, it would increase by 9 members. That could be very important going forward, since I think that we could see a lot of new states coming in, not just Puerto Rico and New Columbia (DC plus the DC suburbs in MD and VA), but also 4 new states being carved out of CA (I would split CA into 2 heavily Dem states (Bay Area and LA) and 3 GOP-leaning states), 3 new states carved out of TX (I would split TX into 4 GOP states) and 2 new states being carved out of FL (I would split FL into 1 heavily Dem state (Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroes Counties) and 2 GOP states). And if we could form the State of Chicaukee (Cook and Lake Counties in IL, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties in WI and Lake County in IN), or some other über-Democrat states that would leave the remaining states comfortably Republican, even better.
I found out why, Alaska staggers it’s State Senate elections even in a redistricting year (I don’t like that, every seat should be up). But the redistricting board ruled that all the seats up in 2014 changed so much that they all must be up for election, except Egan’s which stayed mostly the same.
He’s the rat committee chair BTW, one of 2 democrats to join with the new GOP majority.
Such a small State Senate breeds that kind of thing.
Get your priorities in order. 1st repeal the Leftwing media — the core of our problem.
But...you didn’t say please.
Without the 17th Amendment the Internet would be taxed. Be careful what you wish for.
I live in California. Taxation of the Internet is already happening. Democrats here pushed Amazon and others into collecting sales tax. I’m against any taxation of the Internet. But my voice is not heard by the idiot Senators like Feinstein and Boxer who are picked by the libs in SF, and they welcome taxation of the Internet. They champion far-left liberal causes rather than things that benefit all Californians. If senators were chosen by the state legislature then at least we would have senators representing state interests. California is going to hell partly because of the 17th Amendment.
Three Senators says the man of gold
too much to contemplate in the nutmeg state
Linda once, Linda twice, Linda three times then
The seduction of campaign glamour
too much even for the religious right
Puerto Rico voices will set us straight