Skip to comments.How the States Committed Suicide
Posted on 12/18/2013 3:43:30 PM PST by Jacquerie
How did the once-sovereign states become wards of Washington? They did it to themselves. State politicians came to recognize that they would benefit from a more powerful national government. As scholars like Michael Greve and Todd Zywicki have shown, state actors helped to break down the original constitutional system of "competitive federalism," which kept government limited as states competed with each other to attract business and labor. In its place they contrived a parasitical "cooperative" or "cartel" federalism, in which states extract wealth from each other through the federal government.
The first and most important steps came in 1913, when the states ratified the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth Amendments. The Seventeenth was the greatest structural change ever made to the Constitution. State legislatures gave up their power to choose U.S. senators. The Senate no longer represented the states as states, and senators became agents of federal empowerment. Historically, the Senate had been the more conservative chamber of Congress (as the Founders intended); after 1913 it became the more liberal.
(Excerpt) Read more at realclearpolicy.com ...
17th Amd Wiki:
The Seventeenth Amendment (Amendment XVII) to the United States Constitution established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. The amendment supersedes Article I, § 3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, under which senators were elected by state legislatures. It also alters the procedure for filling vacancies in the Senate, allowing for state legislatures to permit their governors to make temporary appointments until a special election can be held. Under the original provisions of the Constitution, senators were elected by state legislatures; this was intended to prevent the federal government from indirectly absconding with the powers and funds of the states. However, over time various issues with these provisions, such as the risk of corruption and the potential for electoral deadlocks or a lack of representation should a seat become vacant, led to a campaign for reform.
Reformers tabled constitutional amendments in 1828, 1829, and 1855, with the issues finally reaching a head during the 1890s and 1900s. Progressives, such as William Jennings Bryan, called for reform to the way senators were chosen. Elihu Root and George Frisbie Hoar were prominent figures in the campaign to maintain the state legislative selection of senators. By 1910, 31 state legislatures had passed motions calling for reform. By 1912, 239 political parties at both the state and national level had pledged some form of direct election, and 33 states had introduced the use of direct primaries. With a campaign for a state-led constitutional amendment gaining strength, and a fear that this could result in a “runaway convention”, the proposal to mandate direct elections for the Senate was finally introduced in the Congress. It was passed by the Congress and, on May 13, 1912, was submitted to the states for ratification. By April 8, 1913, three-fourths of the states had ratified the proposed amendment, making it the Seventeenth Amendment. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan formally declared the amendment’s adoption on May 31, 1913.
Critics of the Seventeenth Amendment claim that by altering the way senators are elected, the states lost any representation they had in the federal government and that, in addition to violating the unamendable state suffrage clause of Article V, this led to the gradual “slide into ignominy” of state legislatures, as well as an overextension of federal power and the rise of special interest groups to fill the power vacuum previously occupied by state legislatures. In addition, concerns have been raised about the power of governors to appoint temporary replacements to fill vacant senate seats, both in terms of how this provision should be interpreted and whether it should be permitted at all. Accordingly, noted public figures have expressed a desire to reform or even repeal the Seventeenth Amendment.
10 amend ping
10 amend ping
And now the states are not only under the federal thumb, they are themselves seething cesspools of socialism, crony capitalism, and “legal” plunder.
“Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole with their common aim of legal plunder constitute socialism.”
“Now, since under this definition socialism is a body of doctrine, what attack can be made against it other than a war of doctrine? If you find this socialistic doctrine to be false, absurd, and evil, then refute it. And the more false, the more absurd, and the more evil it is, the easier it will be to refute. Above all, if you wish to be strong, begin by rooting out every particle of socialism that may have crept into your legislation. This will be no light task.”
“It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.”
— Claude Frédéric Bastiat
If only we recognized the mistake of the 17th as quickly as the mistake of the 18th.
Actually, the important Amendment was the 14th, after the Civil War. It made everybody citizens of the US, rather than citizens of their state.
I can never understand why the states were willing to ratify the 17th Amendment, when it so clearly meant a massive decrease in their own power.
The Tenth Amendment should have been the First.
The nation enjoyed accelerating wealth, yet farmers were stuck with debt, low agricultural prices and no inflation to relieve them. There was jealousy of the Carnegies, Rockefellers, etc. Depression in mid-1890s. Haymarket riots. Charles A. Beard's book that slammed the characters of our framing generation. William Jennings Bryan and fellow demagogues. Woodrow Wilson.
Apparently left out of the conversation was why the senate was structured as it was in 1787.
The House was designed as a clown act, with the Senate and the Office of the President supposedly as tempering tools.
A U.S. Senator was once infamously attacked by one of his own with a cane. Now, they refer to themselves and their opponents as "my friend from....(name the State)".
It's a disgrace to have them elected by the mob.
The first two bullets contain links to Zywicki's papers. Very interesting theories, worth the reading.
The links seem to be very slow today.
” - - - When Massachusetts challenged the constitutionality of these grants, the Supreme Court dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction. - - - “
I did not know that. Thanks.
Great links. Thanks.
Thus validating Lincoln's statement at the start of the Civil War that he may save the Union but lose the Republic.
Federalism bump for later......
Progressives, such as William Jennings Bryan...Ironic.
Arguably the father of the modern Democrat party, Bryan is today just a liberal punchline because of his participation in the Scopes trial.
As a minority member of the resolutions committee, Bryan was able to push the Democratic Party from its laissez-faire and small-government roots towards its modern, liberal character. Through these measures, the public and influential Democrats became convinced of his capacity to lead and bring change, resulting in his being mentioned as a possible chairman for the Chicago convention.
In 1893, the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act had resulted in the collapse of the silver market. Bryan delivered speeches across the country for free silver from 1894 to 1896, building a grass-roots reputation as a powerful champion of the cause.
At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, Bryan lambasted Eastern moneyed classes for supporting the gold standard at the expense of the average worker. His "Cross of Gold" speech made him the sensational new face in the Democratic Party. That same year he became the first presidential candidate to campaign in a car (a donated Mueller) in Decatur, Illinois.
The Bourbon Democrats who supported incumbent conservative President Grover Cleveland were defeated, and the party's agrarian and silver factions voted for Bryan, giving him the nomination of the Democratic Party. At the age of 36, Bryan became (and still remains) the youngest presidential nominee of a major party in American history.
The 16th amendment created an insane system. Fedgov taxes citizens of the several states. Then fedgov dishes out billions of grants and other fund to states IF—and ONLY IF—the states behave the way Fedgov wants them to behave. Misbehave, and you get no funds. Nevermind that the money came from the states in the first place.
The one in pdf.
I like how it discusses how the 17th amendment made special interest groups more powerful because the direct election of Senators increased their tenure (the likelihood of being reelected), which resulted in the greater chance that their promises would be kept because special interests could rely on their being there from term to term.
The seniority system made the "promise" of senior senators worth more than others, so the longer one was there the greater that their promises had value to the special interests.
As they are wont to do, liberals exaggerated the problems with a senate of the states. A hundred years of experience with the 17th proves the Framers got it right.
State legislators also aren't to keen on taking responsibility if it means they may have to take the blame when things go wrong. Of course the federal income tax has a lot to do with that -- much more than direct election of senators. When states controlled the purse strings (Articles of Confederation), states could be quite assertive. When the federal government had independent but limited means of finance, state governments still showed some independence, but since the federal income tax came in, state legislators have been content to get money from the feds and avoid taking the blame for increasing state taxes on their constituents.
And direct election? Before 1913, senators were rarely considered presidential material. They weren't really where the power was. As the name suggests, they were elder statesmen, rewarded for their loyalty, who didn't rock the boat. Since 1913, the senate's become a more powerful place. It holds it's own against other branches of government, and a US Senate seat become something for local politicians to aspire to.
Since then, dozens of senators have run for president. Few won, but that never stopped others from running. State governments are indeed less powerful than they were in the 19th century, but if your state's senator makes it to the White House, your state gets more federal goodies. Even if it's largely an honor the prestige can be translated into real advantages for your state's politicians and elites, and that's another reason why state legislators like direct election of senators.
I’ll go you one better - it began with the Assumption Act of 1790, when the federal government took over state debts.
That gave Washington control over the purse strings, and ensured that the states would always be subordinate.