Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Elegant Campaign Finance Reform
1/29/02 | Political Junkie Too

Posted on 01/31/2002 2:36:49 PM PST by Political Junkie Too

If you really want to use Enron and Global Crossing to shape the political environment forever, then push the following elegant campaign finance reform solution:

Repeal the 17th amendment to the Constitution.

Passed in 1913, the 17th Amendment made the Senate directly electable by the people. Prior to this, the Senate was appointed by each State Legislature. The Founding Fathers wanted the Senate to be the States' representation in Congress -- the House was the people's representation.

The Founding Fathers made the Congress a two-chamber house for a reason. They wanted new legislatation to be passed by both a majority of the people and a majority of the States. They knew that public opinion was fickle, so they designed the House of Representatives -- the People's House -- to be proportional to the population and entirely up for re-election every two years.

However, they also wanted a smaller, deliberative body that would be intact over a longer period of time to mitigate the fluctuations in public opinion. They wanted a body that would be around long enough to remember the details and reasons for the legislations that were being passed. Finally, they wanted the body to represent the States -- sort of the State's seats at the Federal table. This is why the Senate has a six-year staggered term -- it takes 18 years to completely turn over -- and is why there is equal representation from each State, and also why the State legislature was to appoint the Senators directly. The Founders felt that State appointment would preserve State's power in the Federal government and would make the Senators tightly coupled with State politics.

What would be the impact on campaign finance if Senators were again selected by each State legislature?

It seems to me that the greatest opportunity for campaign abuse is in the Senate.

The Executive runs every four years, but there is only one of them and a handful of opponents.

The House runs every two years, but their constituencies are so small that abuse isn't likely.

The Senate has the longest term at six years and there are 100 of them. If you consider that elections frequently involve three to five contenders, then you are looking at around 300 to 500 campaigners raising money over a six year period. Each Senate campaign is becoming more expensive than the last one -- look at Huffington/Feinstein, Corzine, Clinton (would FALN terrorists have been pardoned if the NY legislature chose the Senator?), etc. Their constituency is an entire state -- millions of people from California, New York, Texas and Florida, hundreds of thousands in small states like South Dakota and Rhode Island.

If the 17th amendment were to be repealed, the Senate would no longer have the need to raise huge amounts of cash for their campaign warchests, since it would be State legislatures that would be doing the voting and they don't need to see 60-second campaign commercials every ten minutes for six months. Any lobby money would be spent closer to home in the respective states since there wouldn't be any "campaigns" to endorse.

This would also have the effect of making the Senate more accountable to the States, and would make people take more notice of their own State assemblies, since those are people the responsible for selecting the Senators to Congress. The "carpetbagger" issue would disappear, since it is unlikely that State legislatures would appoint some from outside the State political system as their Senator -- they would prefer someone with ties (favors owed) to the legislatures. If the people don't like they Senators that their legislatures appoint, they can vote the State politicians out of office and replace them with more favorable candidates.

Preserving State's Powers

The Founders felt that letting State legislatures appoint Senators to Congress would preserve State's power in the Federal government. They believed that this would make the Senators more accountble to the States. Today, with Senators directly electable by the people, there is no need for Senators to focus much on State issues except when public outcry is loud. Once elected, they can rely on the people's attention to drift on to other things, and then let the power of the incumbancy propel them through election after election. State legislators are much more focused on politics and will remember what Senators do or don't do. They can refuse to re-appoint a Senator who doesn't perform to expectations. They can reign in Senators who try to divert State funds towards bureaucratic Federal programs that do less good than the States could have done with the same money. They can reign in Senators who try to tie Federal money to mandatory regulations, or who try to pass unfunded mandates on the States.

The Elegant Solution

This is an elegant solution to campaign finance reform that doesn't interfere with the First Amendment. It is a new idea that hasn't been discussed anywhere yet.

The States appointed our Senators for 125 years. The people have been electing Senators for only 89 years. We should consider the 17th amendment as a failed experiment and restore the original intent of the Founding Fathers. The legislation should be simple to develop -- "The seventeenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed." That's it. There are no constitutionality questions about it.

Actually making it happen is another story. I would think that the States would jump all over this to restore some of the balance of power with the Federal government. There are two ways to amend the Constitution: 1) Get two thirds of both Houses to propose the amendment (which will NEVER happen), or 2) get two thirds of the States to call for a convention to propose the amendment. Can you imagine how our Senators would react to this? Wouldn't you love to see our Senators oppose their own States' attempt to restore their Constitutional power?

This may all just be a pipe dream, but I think it's an elegant solution.

-PJ


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 10thamendment; 17thamendment; 1913; campaignfinance; cfr; enronlist; globalcrossing; statesrights

1 posted on 01/31/2002 2:36:49 PM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Anybody want to have a go at explaining how the state legislatures were convinced to pass the 17th amendment in the first place. What were the rationals given by the amendments supporters at the time? Just pointing to a URL would be sufficient of course.

It's one of those things I never have understood. Oh I could see the mob being convinced it was a great idea, but how to convince the state legislators, and for that matter the sitting Senators, who after all were beholding to those legislatures?

2 posted on 01/31/2002 2:53:21 PM PST by El Gato
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Agreed. I believe our host, Mr. Robinson, does too.
3 posted on 01/31/2002 3:03:04 PM PST by Virginia-American
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: El Gato
Here's a link that I found. It looks, by the name of it, to be a conspiracy theory site, but it makes interesting points.

Google

4 posted on 01/31/2002 3:06:23 PM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Repeal the income tax too. Since they now can control 100% of our output if they desire they got plenty of power for sale. Limit the money the fed gets and they will have less to sale , therefore the amount of corruption goes down too,
5 posted on 01/31/2002 3:11:11 PM PST by Nateman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nateman
One thing at a time.

-PJ

6 posted on 01/31/2002 3:12:43 PM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Of course, rereading this, it becomes apparent that it only takes 10 years to turn over the Senate, not 18.

-PJ

7 posted on 01/31/2002 3:18:11 PM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
This may sound like a good idea, but in reality it will never happen. First for the reasons you mention above. Second, The thought of calling a constitutional convention should scare the crap out of all of us. A Convention cannot be narrowly defined. The first and only one we ever had was to strenghthen the articles of confederation. They quickly turned into ultra secret procedings and quite frankly we got lucky with the result. Imagine if you will who would be invited to a new convention. Bill and Hillary, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter. Need I say more? Better off trying to get honest pepole into the structure we have than by taking the chance of having the greatest government formed by man tossed asside by the very people we are trying to rid from office. Just my two cents
8 posted on 01/31/2002 3:31:21 PM PST by jrob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: jrob
Agreed. A Constitutional Convention is wide open, which is why it takes two thirds of the states to call for one. The other option is to get Congress to pass the amendment. The House might do it, but the Senate never will (which should be an eye-opener for everyone).

-PJ

9 posted on 01/31/2002 3:39:27 PM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Repeal of the 17th amendment would do more to restore our Constitution than anything that could be possibly done. The Amendment 10 would be restored to where it meant something. Amendment 17 was passed in the same year that the Federal Reserve and modern income tax.

1913 must have been the most insane year in American history. World War I was on everybody's mind and the country was unified to a greater amount than it has been since. The citizenry looked to the Federal government to protect them, not realizing they were creating their own slavery.

10 posted on 01/31/2002 3:46:50 PM PST by meenie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: meenie
1913 must have been the most insane year in American history. World War I was on everybody's mind

On the mind of everyone with the ability to foretell the future, at least.

11 posted on 01/31/2002 3:51:52 PM PST by steve-b
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Not a conspiracy theory *site* per se. Not a site at all really, just the archive of a newsgroup. In principle no different than Free Republic, although without the nice GUI. Sort of like a mailing list, only different in implementation, newsgroups were originally created, well before the advent of browsers and the world wide web, to allow scientists to communicate and discuss mutual interests. I'm not sure if they go all the way back to the old ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet or not. I used newsgroups, including that one or a similar one, for some time before I began using a browser( NCSA Mosaic, upon which Internet explorer is based) and surfing the web. Unfortunatley most of the non scientific, and some of those too, tend to quickly degenerate into flame wars.

It would have been nice if the poster on that newsgroup (misc.activism.militia) would have provided a URL for more information, but unless I missed it, he did not.

12 posted on 01/31/2002 8:10:51 PM PST by El Gato
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: Political Junkie Too
I have been advocating the repeal of the 17th Amendment for years now, and was delighted to see this posting.

The 17th's sales pitch was to stop the railroads from "buying" too much influence in congress. It is basically the same pitch that is being used in today's campaign finance reform.

History does repeat itself.

IMPORTANT POINT: When the 17th Amendment was ratified the 10th Amendment lost its guardians.

Today's trend is to bigger and bigger government. Pushing an amendment for the repeal of the 17 Amendment is worth the risk, because it is necessary!

14 posted on 02/01/2002 7:17:55 AM PST by gortklattu
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Here's ANOTHER possibility:


15 posted on 02/01/2002 7:31:51 AM PST by Dick Bachert
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dick Bachert
Term limits just puts a leash on the span of power in Washington. It doesn't bring the power back to the States by making their Senators beholden to them. The Senators are still beholden to campaign funds from special interests.

-PJ

16 posted on 02/01/2002 9:32:02 AM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: gortklattu
The 17th's sales pitch was to stop the railroads from "buying" too much influence in congress. It is basically the same pitch that is being used in today's campaign finance reform.

The big differnce between then and now is that the States were appointing the Senators when the "buying" was occurring. I agree that Senators are bought and paid for now, and that the States have a flimsy hold on their Senators, but how did the buying also occur when the States were appointing the Senators during the railroad days?

I believe that the answer to that question is that we were just finishing up settling the west and the industrial age was dawning. There were still wide open spaces with little people in the west and many former Territories were only recently made into states. Maybe the Old West attitudes were still in force in the Territorial governments.

I don't think the same buying power would exist in today's world if the States were willing to flex their muscles more.

-PJ

17 posted on 02/01/2002 9:38:09 AM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
The current crop of senators will not allow any movement for the repeal of the 17th Amendment to take hold. We'll have to count on others to accomplish this herculian task.

Can you imagine Robert Byrd advocating something like this? No way!

What worries me about all these so-called "reforms" is that they are just exactly that: RE-forms. They are not improvements. They may actually be re=forming for the worse.

Another sad fact in this matter is how shallow thinking rules so much of politics. If you say something will stop corruption, including getting rid of the police, you will have your followers in today's system.

18 posted on 02/01/2002 6:44:40 PM PST by gortklattu
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: gortklattu
What worries me about all these so-called "reforms" is that they are just exactly that: RE-forms. They are not improvements. They may actually be re=forming for the worse. Another sad fact in this matter is how shallow thinking rules so much of politics.

Hamilton or Madison wrote in Federalist 62 (Concerning the Constitution of the Senate):

It may be affirmed, on the best grounds, that no small share of the present embarrassments of America is to be charged on the blunders of our governments; and that these have proceeded from the heads rather than the hearts of most of the authors of them. What indeed are all the repealing, explaining, and amending laws, which fill and disgrace our voluminous codes, but so many monuments of deficient wisdom; so many impeachments exhibited by each succeeding against each preceding session;

-PJ

19 posted on 02/01/2002 7:48:11 PM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
This would be great.. and also up the number of Representatives in the House, too. Too many in the population to get any input with your Representative.
20 posted on 02/10/2002 3:54:03 PM PST by nsmart
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Lets stop taxing corporations, too. The only voice they have to effect these taxes is by using money. They can't vote, after all.
21 posted on 02/10/2002 3:55:34 PM PST by nsmart
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
I just noticed that Sobran mentioned this in an article published on March 23, 2002.

In a column titled "How Might Makes Right [lewrockwell.com] ," Mr. Sobran writes:

The Constitution sounds great on paper. But how is the Federal Government to be prevented from exceeding its allotted powers? Originally there were three safeguards...

Second, the Senate of the United States represented the states, and would oppose any usurpation of the rights reserved to the states and denied to the Federal Government. But the Seventeenth Amendment virtually abolished the Senate by requiring the popular election of senators, ending their selection by the state legislatures. By being democratized, the Senate became a redundant institution, with no special constitutional function.

-PJ

22 posted on 03/31/2002 11:09:00 AM PST by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too
Bump. Thanks for the ping from that other thread

Another point in selling the idea would be that the constitution is not specific on the manner in which the State Legislature selects their Senators. Those states that still desired the popular election of their senators would be free to set up the process within their legislature as a sort of statewide electoral college. In this way, they would still be free to elect theirs by popular vote.

This variation in election methods would be entirely constitutional, while allowing the people to judge the effectiveness of the different methods in each state. This would be in line with "the crucibles of democracy" concept envisioned by the founding fathers.

23 posted on 07/30/2002 2:03:35 PM PDT by dead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead
Good point. I didn't think of that before.

-PJ

24 posted on 07/30/2002 2:04:42 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: 3D-JOY; abner; Abundy; AGreatPer; Albion Wilde; alisasny; ALlRightAllTheTime; AlwaysFree; ...

PING!


25 posted on 10/24/2007 5:31:19 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Repeal the Terrible Two - the 16th and 17th Amendments. Sink LOST! Stop SPP!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Political Junkie Too

I bet one of the other two safeguards was the prohibition on direct taxation, with the exception of taxes used to pay down debts.


26 posted on 10/24/2007 5:51:36 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Repeal the Terrible Two - the 16th and 17th Amendments. Sink LOST! Stop SPP!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: El Gato
I'm not sure if they go all the way back to the old ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet or not.

Usenet was conceived of by a couple of grad students as a "poor man's ARPANET" in 1979 and established in 1980.

So yes, it does go back to ARPANET times. It's scary to look at the Google archives of what I posted on Usenet back before the WWW was around! >cringe!<

27 posted on 10/24/2007 6:01:29 PM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

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.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson