Skip to comments.How would Senate look if we repealed 17th Amendment today?
Posted on 02/08/2013 3:21:06 PM PST by FatMax
The Founding Fathers knew that in order to ratify a Constitution and preserve the fledgling United States, it was essential that the states have representation in the new Federal government. The legislative branch would be split; the people represented by the directly elected members of the House of Representatives, and each state represented by two officials appointed by the state legislatures. In the new system, the House would represent the people and the Senate would represent the states. Without a federalist system of divided, enumerated, and checked powers between the federal and state governments, no union would be possible - the states, wary of potentially losing their sovereignty to an all-powerful government, would back out, and the world's most free and prosperous nation would never have become a reality.
According to the Founders' vision, so long as the U.S. senator served the state's interest, the senator would remain in power. This way, the upper house could focus on their business, not encumbered by the elections of their lower house counterparts.
But in the early 20th Century, Progressives argued that the federalist arrangement in place fostered corruption and excessive special interests in the Senate. Ignoring the original intent of the Constitution and under the cover of "democracy" (we are in fact a constitutional republic, not a democracy), the federal government quickly ratified the 17th Amendment, establishing the direct election of U.S. senators. States no longer had any representation in Washington, and the amendment paved the way for even more corruption and special interest influence.
Today, we have a Senate that regularly passes legislation contrary to the interests of the states, thanks to the moral hazard introduced by the 17th Amendment. Perhaps most residents in your state opposes national healthcare, but both of your senators voted in favor. Why not? They can't be recalled at moment's notice by the state legislative branch, like they could 100 years ago. All they have to do is get enough votes from their citizens - or perhaps enough voter fraud - and they are safe for six years. Missouri may not want Obamacare and Wyoming may not want tough new gun control laws, but thanks to the 17th Amendment, the state's hands are tied.
What if the 17th Amendment was repealed?
Currently, there are 52 Democrats, 46 Republicans, and two Independents, both of whom caucus with the Democrats. But in state legislative branches there are 51% Republicans and only 46% Democrats - nearly an exact opposite of the party makeup of the U.S. Senate. And that doesn't include the non-partisan unicameral Nebraska state legislature; it isn't a stretch to suggest that a state that virtually always sends Republicans to Washington would somehow depart from the trend.
Below is a map displaying the party makeup of the 50 states and how they are represented in the U.S. Senate. The varying shades of red and blue signify the % of majority control, either Republican (red), or Democrat (blue). Click here or on the image to see the full-size version.
Now, another map - this time red represents a Republican delegation, blue Democrat (or Democrat/Independent as both Independent senators caucus with the Democrats), and purple for a split D/R delegation. Click here or on the image to see the full-size version.
It is likely in a state like Hawaii - with over 90% Democrat majority control of the state houses - would have two Democrat U.S. senators. But few states have such a strong majority control. If the 17th Amendment were to be magically repealed today, returning selection to the states, it is highly probable that states would appoint senators according to party makeup of the state legislatures. A state with more Democrats would be more likely to appoint more Democrats and vise-versa. A state that was more balanced would be forced to compromise and would be more likely to have a split delegation. It is unlikely that South Dakota, a state whose voters elected nearly 80% Republicans, would only appoint one Republican senator. And it is also unlikely that a state like Michigan, where nearly two out of every three state legislators are Republican, would somehow appoint both senators from the minority party.
My theory is that if the 17th Amendment were repealed, states with 67% majority control of the state legislature or more would likely appoint two senators from the majority party, and states with less than 67% majority control would have insufficient leverage and be forced to moderate, nominating one member from each party. Non-partisan Nebraska, with all Republican officials, will stay Republican in this experiment, and both Independent senators are not a factor since they already caucus with the Democrats anyways.
Below is my proposed results, considering the makeup of the U.S. Senate and all 50 state legislatures in January 2013. Click here or on the image to see the full-size version.
According to the hypothesis, Republicans would gain an astonishing 12 seats from Democrats, a strong majority at 58 versus the Democrats' 40. There are many factors that are not accounted for in this study, such as voter fraud, the varying platform and history of each politician, media coverage, etc. But regardless of the varying and impossible-to-predict factors in a system with millions of voters, the overall premise remains: that the stronger majority control a state legislature has, the more likely it is that the state will appoint a member of the majority party. Even if only half of the seats predicted actually change hands, the Republicans would still gain control of the Senate - 52 seats to the Democrats' 46.
Corruption must be checked and the Senate should do the bidding of the state - not the special interests. But a constitutional republic is a rule of laws, not a rule of men, as is a democracy. The Founding Fathers - who had a far greater intelligence than today's politician - dedicated one half of the legislative branch to the states for good reason. By repealing the 17th Amendment, we would restore the federalist system that kept Americans free and prosperous.
Director, The Victory Institute
“...How would Senate look if we repealed 17th Amendment today?...”
I’m all ears.
I think this is a great idea!
I think it will have to be an insurgency campaign. Several “Tea Party” senate candidates support the repeal. Zell Miller, a former Marine and perhaps the last conservative Democrat, supported it. We citizens must drive this forward.
Repeal the 17th AND ratify ARTICLE THE FIRST! Instant return to common sense and a powerful America at home and abroad.
What are you wanting to ratify?
Repeal of the 17th would only serve to empower the already corrupted establishment types and bosses in the state legislatures. You’d have an utterly unaccountable body made up of the same ultra-Marxist Democrat moonbats from 1-party states and go along to get along big gubmint RINOs looking for pork. No Ted Cruz or Rand Paul types need apply.
Sure. Let’s not do it because it’s the right thing to do. Let’s do it because we think it will help Republicrats.
The author doesn’t even have it right. Even with popular election, the Senate still gives some equality to the States with equal representation.
What’s missing is a balance to populism. The hyperbolic House was supposed to be balanced by a chamber less likely to be a knee-jerk reaction to contemporary fads and idiocy - like a House of Lords. Instead, we have crazy Diane Feinstein and all the rest. Just what you’d expect in the House, only worse. Representing millions of people each, in some cases, they are responsible to no-one, except those who fund their election campaigns.
It’s always far easier for stupid people to break what it took real genius to create.
The 17th Amendment is certainly wrong, but for reasons beyond the understanding of the author.
I could accept a compromise on the 17th. Give every district 1 vote for senator. Basically model it after the electoral college the same way I would like to see my state vote for president.
Who is more corrupt, the state legislatures, who can only spend their own state’s money, many of which have balanced budget amendments, and cannot print money; or the current system that has failed to do their constitutional duty regarding a budget, is bankrupting the entire nation, stripping U.S. sovereignty, and can spend trillions of dollars?
Corruption is everywhere in politics - the job attracts highly corruptible people. But the best government is local, and the founders built a federalist system for a reason. If you have a corrupt state, you can always move to another state, and the state with the better system will prosper while the state making poor choices will suffer from the loss of taxpayers. But when the corruption is at the federal level, you can’t move to another United States.
The states created the federal government - not the other way around. Are you suggesting states should no longer have ANY voice in Washington?
You’re apparently unable to understand the point. The more control the majority party has, the more likely it is for that state to appoint members from the majority party. Republicans pick up more seats because they have more control in the state legislatures.
It was solely due to the difficulty of 18th Century travel that Congressional, popular terms settled on two years rather than one. There was no way those evil dead white slave owners would have condoned six year elected terms for members of a small, exclusive enclave.
The first State constitutions leaned heavily on the “democratic” side, most with strong legislatures derived entirely from the people, and purposely weak governors. These popular State governments were unstable and abusive of property rights.
Our Framers knew the source of the troubles, the people, and corrected the problem at the national level with a Senate NOT derived from the people. That lesson was forgotten or ignored with the 17th Amendment.
Our “Senators,” of six year terms present a great threat to our liberties, one that our Framers understood. They are just as subject to the whims of the popular mob, and react in the same fashion as Congressmen.
We'll never know of course, but IMO the great social justice reform nonsense of the last seventy years would not have occurred absent the 17th.
AMEN to repealing the 17th. Throw in the 16th for good measure (and sometimes I wonder about the 19th as well/jk,sort of)
Why is CA purple on the bottom map? They have a 2/3 Rat majority in their legislature.
As one whom has studied the membership of that body, I’m here to tell you that these grand notions of what repeal of the 17th would bring don’t mesh with the reality. There’s a reason why that amendment was passed, and it wasn’t some grand leftist conspiracy. Senators were becoming more and more corrupt, representing their own personal interests that had next to nothing with jealousy protecting states’ rights. The Senators were either puppets or puppetmasters of individual legislatures. They had become so far removed from the people that it was what prompted a nationwide reform movement that would force some level of accountability.
A good number of legislatures today are as grossly incompetent and corrupt as can be, and are the last people who need to be deciding upon Senators. A good number of states would also cease to be able to elect a remotely reasonable GOP Senator because of an unchanged one party hegemony (which include: CA, CT, DE, HI, IL, MD, MA, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA, WV). With no worries of having to appeal to anyone beyond the ultraleft, the bulk of these states would send the most radical of members that would adhere to the blasphemous and vile social agenda and the orgiastic spending spree.
The Republican members would be chock full of mushy RINOs, big government types (such as Lt Gov. Dewhurst in TX, who bribed and bullied the state legislature to get him the Senate seat over Ted Cruz — which thankfully the PEOPLE stopped). If states like Texas would send RINOs, how do you expect it would be any better elsewhere ?
The only way you would remotely come close to the Founders vision would be to roll back the standards and requirements for voting that were in effect before the middle of the 19th century. Meaning a massive disenfranchisement of the parasitic low and no information voters that have helped to push our country to the brink of destruction. Unless you’re willing to do that, repeal of the 17th is merely an exercise in removing what few Conservatives exist in that body at present.
According to the theory, 67% and above would be sufficient for the entire delegation to be from the majority party. California has 66.3%. While California would likely be represented by one senator from each party, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the Democrat would be liberal and the Republican would be a moderate.
But it’s an educated guess, not precise political analysis. Even if the Republicans were only able to swing half of the states where they have reasonably sufficient support (according to the state legislatures) and we err on the side of the Democrats - which wouldn’t be too much of a stretch considering the inability of Republican leadership to stand on principles or oppose Democrat policies - the Republicans still gain control of the Senate.
You and I have corresponded on this topic before.
You once sent me a link to an article that explained it all.
It was an article called:
“Ulysses at the Mast-Democracy Federalism and the Sirens Song”.
I don’t know if it is still available out there on the interwebs somewhere.
In a nutshell, there were a handful of reasons posited for the reform such as:
-acute corruption in the appointment of US senators.
-chronic vacant seats in the US senate.
The 17th was supposed to remedy those perceived problems.
Ultimately the idea went through just simply because “the people” wanted to “feel” like they had more of a choice in senatorial elections.
This is not unlike the push today to have the president chosen by popular vote.
All simply another move on the chessboard by the progressives towards their idea of pure utopian democracy.
I heartily disagree.
The point is to make Senators beholden to the state legislatures that elected them. They would then serve to turn down legislation that takes power from the states and gives it to Washington.
It doesn't solve everything. Just puts another block in the way of the Feds' power-grab.
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