The double irony of Will’s column

posted at 11:01 am on February 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Lawyers say that tough cases make bad law, and the Feingold-McCain effort to amend the Constitution is a good example of that.  However, George Will turns a good case against the modification of the 17th Amendment into a bad case for its repeal.  The irony comes from the case itself — Roland Burris — and the long, strange trip he took to the Senate.

The Feingold-McCain amendment would require that states hold popular elections when replacing Senators in mid-term for any reason — death, resignation, or in Obama’s case, election to other office.  It would eliminate the power held by governors in 46 states to appoint a replacement for at least a period of time until the next scheduled election.  In Wisconsin and three other states, the state law requires an election instead, and Russ Feingold wants to impose that requirement on all the rest.  Will rightly sees that as a violation of federalism:

Although liberals give lip service to “diversity,” they often treat federalism as an annoying impediment to their drive for uniformity. Feingold, who is proud that Wisconsin is one of only four states that clearly require special elections of replacement senators in all circumstances, wants to impose Wisconsin’s preference on the other 46. Yes, he acknowledges, they could each choose to pass laws like Wisconsin’s, but doing this “state by state would be a long and difficult process.” Pluralism is so tediously time-consuming.

But Will runs aground when arguing against the substance of the policy:

Severing senators from state legislatures, which could monitor and even instruct them, made them more susceptible to influence by nationally organized interest groups based in Washington. Many of those groups, who preferred one-stop shopping in Washington to currying favors in all the state capitals, campaigned for the 17th Amendment. So did urban political machines, which were then organizing an uninformed electorate swollen by immigrants. Alliances between such interests and senators led to a lengthening of the senators’ tenures.

The very case before us makes that argument completely laughable.  Are we to assume that a Senator appointed by the Illinois legislature would be somehow less prone to undue influence than one who won in a popular election?  Especially if, as Will notes, the Senator remained accountable (and at risk for recall) to the legislature that appointed him?  Regardless of whether the populace is “swollen by immigrants”, a public election has more sunlight by its nature than a conclave of elected officials in a state capital — or on Capitol Hill, as the Porkulus package amply demonstrated.

Will does point out the complex nature of the mandates structured in the original Constitution.  The House represented the people, elected by popular vote every two years.  The Senate represented the states, elected by legislatures every six years.  The President represented both, in the amalgam of the Electoral College.  The 17th Amendment did away with that balance, but then again, so did the evolution of the Electoral College from a near-parliamentary system of producing Presidents to a state-by-state popular vote mechanism that keeps the power of densely populated states somewhat at bay.

As our country evolved, and as it grew from a small collection of provinces clinging to a coastline, the popular vote became seen as the ultimate mandate for power in a government — and I’d argue that this evolution has its advantages.  Under the original system, the popular vote only controlled one of three federal mechanisms; the other two were controlled by politicians.  Burris actually makes the argument that the popular vote mandate would be preferable, if messier, than keeping the power to seat Senators with state lawmakers.

I agree with Will, though, that the states should make the decision on appointments and special elections, and not the Constitution.  I disagree that sending it all back to the state legislatures would create a cleaner Senate.  (via Brett’s Constitution)


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Comments

Been advocating the repeal of this amendment for twenty years. Glad to see Will catch up.

Did you write to your US Senator about the Stimulus Bill? Sop did 50,000 others.

Imagine, however, if you and thirty neighbors could have put pressure on your state rep to recall your senator if he voted for the stimulus, or any other issue for that matter. What if you could get your entire church to show up at his office to influence your senator? See my point?

Restore the Republic: Repeal the 17th Amendment!

Akzed on February 23, 2009 at 11:07 AM

There are just so few non-corruptible politicians. It reflects badly on our society…sniff.

kirkill on February 23, 2009 at 11:11 AM

It was a mistake to make the Senator’s popularly elected.
Their original purpose was to represent the states in Washington. The people were represented by the House.

The death of federalism can be tied directly to the 17th ammendment.

MarkTheGreat on February 23, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Are we to assume that a Senator appointed by the Illinois legislature would be somehow less prone to undue influence than one who won in a popular election?

Are we to assume that the people of Illinois would elect Senators that are less corrupt that the legislators they elected? Of course not.

Repeal the 17th Amendment.

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Akzed, I wrote to my Senators, unfortunately, Mark Udall is one of mine. He actually replied with a subject of “Re: Pass the American [crapfully tax and steal for special interest] Act, NOW”. For the life of me, I never can remember the name of that steaming pile. Of course, that wasn’t even close to the subject of my e-mail. I had to snail mail the other frosh Senator Bennet.

kirkill on February 23, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Restore the Republic: Repeal the 17th Amendment!

+ 789,000,000,000 and counting…

gatorboy on February 23, 2009 at 11:17 AM

We don’t want nobody nobody sent.
In this case the second nobody is the voting taxpayer.
IL would be better served if Indiana elected our senators.

MarkT on February 23, 2009 at 11:17 AM

As our country evolved, and as it grew from a small collection of provinces clinging to a coastline, the popular vote became seen as the ultimate mandate for power in a government

Not to worry, the dems will have us back to a collection of provinces struggling to survive in no time.

Bishop on February 23, 2009 at 11:19 AM

In the founder’s days the states distrusted a central\federal government; thus, having the states appoint Senators made sense to protect the state’s sovereignty.
Unfornately, the states are little more than federal districts now and have no desire to assert their rights. Until this is the case, it does not matter how Senators are elected\appointed.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:20 AM

Unfornately, the states are little more than federal districts now and have no desire to assert their rights.

Well, 25 26 states are doing just that: http://www.mrstep.com/politics/az-wa-mo-nh-ok-claiming-sovereignty/

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:23 AM

We are a republic. The founders never envisioned a direct vote for the Senate. There are many reasons for letting the state legislature elect the Senate, as originally in the constitution. The most important is that you would again attract better people to serve in the State Legislature, since that would be the quickest route to DC. Now we have people you basically buy themselves a seat, see WVA and NJ. Our State Legislatures use to attract the best and the brightest, now you get retirees and housewives. The change would also make for a Senate with REAL legislators who know how to write bills.

Kempermanx on February 23, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Well, 25 26 states are doing just that: http://www.mrstep.com/politics/az-wa-mo-nh-ok-claiming-sovereignty/

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Great on paper, but when I hear the politicians say:

Stop taxing my citizens! I (the Governor and legislatures) will request more funds for education, highways, social programs, etc. directly from my constituents and not through the federal back door.

Until the states show action to take responsibility, nice talk…show me some action.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM

I agree with Will. I think the reference to the current Illinois situation misses the point, which is that returning control of the Senate to the state legislatures removes the influence from DC and returns it to the states.

n0doz on February 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Return to Federalism, repeal the 17th. Put this country back on the track designed by the Founders, get the federal government out of every day life.

Either than or dissolve the states. There is no sense us paying for state government if the feds are going to simply tell them what to do and they do it. Why do we need a governor, state legislature and all of the state departments like education and highways. The feds just issue the orders and all the state governments do is parrot them back to us. Why do I need to support a governor and state legislature to do that?

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM

The feds just issue the orders and all the state governments do is parrot them back to us. Why do I need to support a governor and state legislature to do that?

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM

D’uh! To create jobs. /sarc

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Ed, you say it’s a bad thing because it’s based on a bad argument.

Here then is a better argument, in National Review, from Zell Miller and Bruce Bartlett.

http://www.nationalreview.com/nrof_bartlett/bartlett200405120748.asp

[email protected] Ridge on February 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Either than or dissolve the states. There is no sense us paying for state government if the feds are going to simply tell them what to do and they do it.
johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM

By an increasing amount, much of the money the states spend comes from the Fed’s anyway.

MarkTheGreat on February 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Excluding the “Bill of Rights” (the first 10 amendments) the Constitution has been amended 17 times in the 217 years since 1791.

Six, or 1/3 of those amendments, have been in my lifetime. As a Libertarian, that concerns me.

Our founding fathers deliberately made amending the Constitution a long and difficult process. Then to further complicate the process, they created a branch of the legislature, the Senate, responsible to the states with the intention that the Senators, not reliant on popular vote, could provide a dispassionate view of any potential changes to the Constitution.

Many Constitutional scholars believe that a fundamental shift in our government began in 1913 when the 17th Amendment changed the method of selecting Senators.

The Senators, now subject to popular election could no longer act as that moral and legal “brake,” although their six-year terms gave them some protection from hasty and popular recall.

It’s worth noting that the first amendment passed after the 17th was the 18th, Prohibition.

Would the 18th Amendment, poorly conceived and quickly passed, been approved if the Senators were still selected by the states legislatures? It’s an interesting subject for debate.

I personally believe the Constitution has become so easy to amend because too many Senators have essentially abrogated their role as a brake to the temporary exuberance of popular sentiment.

The states legislators have been selecting senators a lot longer than we have been voting for them.

Many people are not aware that the basis of our form of government is representational republicanism; we are a “democracy” only in the definition that our citizens have the right to select those republicans (small “r”) they best feel will represent them.

I believe we should be very cautious about what we add to our Constitution

E9RET on February 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Well, 25 26 states are doing just that: http://www.mrstep.com/politics/az-wa-mo-nh-ok-claiming-sovereignty/

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Nice as this sounds it means nothing. All of these are resolutions, not statutes.

None of these states have had the cajones to put these forward with the force of law, passed by both house and signed by the governor. They mean less than the paper they are printed on, they are just opinions, suggestions, wishful thinking, sops to the peasants who think we actually run things.

Until some state(s) pass laws requiring the federal government to back off, as is their Constitutional right and responsibility, all of this is just window dressing.

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Until the states show action to take responsibility, nice talk…show me some action.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM

I’m waiting too, but the sovereignty biils are a hopeful sign at least. I find it interesting that most of them were introduced this year – obviously a reaction to Obama.

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:37 AM

I believe we should be very cautious about what we add to our Constitution

E9RET on February 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Unless the amendment starts with:

Section 1. The insert dumb amendment number here article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:38 AM

By an increasing amount, much of the money the states spend comes from the Fed’s anyway.

MarkTheGreat on February 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM

No, much of that money comes from taxpayers spread around by the feds with the appropriate part skimmed off for ‘overhead’ (and corruption of course).

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:38 AM

Again Feingold doesn’t get it. It’s not the law that’s wrong it’s the people in charge. Blago is a bad guy from a corrupt political machine in Chicago. No change in the laws will change that. Just like McCain-Feingold didn’t change corruption in politics neither will this.

FWIW-Obama is a product of the same corrupt political machine.

roux on February 23, 2009 at 11:40 AM

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM

I can’t wait to tell my wife that I’m not the most pessimistic American on the planet. ;)

Like I said earlier, it’s a hopeful sign; a step in the right direction.

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:41 AM

It was a mistake to make the Senator’s popularly elected.
Their original purpose was to represent the states in Washington. The people were represented by the House.

The death of federalism can be tied directly to the 17th ammendment.

MarkTheGreat on February 23, 2009 at 11:15 AM

The brilliance of the Founders, they created a government that, when it was working correctly, could do things only with great difficulty — as it should be in a nation “of the people.”

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:41 AM

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:37 AM

It is only hope unless I (or any of us who care) could get elected to a position of power to affect this. I wish I had the money to do just that.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:43 AM

George Will dissed Sarah Palin so why should I read him?

/sarc

RayinVA on February 23, 2009 at 11:44 AM

I can’t wait to tell my wife that I’m not the most pessimistic American on the planet. ;)

Like I said earlier, it’s a hopeful sign; a step in the right direction.

FuriousAmerican on February 23, 2009 at 11:41 AM

I don’t see that as pessimism. For my entire life I have marveled at the genius of the Founders and the success that what they did wrought. And then we screwed it up by turning our backs on the thing that enabled that greatness.

It is a step in the right direction but the federal machine, especially in the hands of the Democrats, could care less about what the states say, and especially in the manner so far. Resolutions are used to name post offices — and now to ‘reassert’ states rights.

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM

No, much of that money comes from taxpayers spread around by the feds with the appropriate part skimmed off for ‘overhead’ (and corruption of course).

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:38 AM

To me its like a money laundering scheme. Give the money to the feds it comes back clean of responsibility to the tax payers (i.e., state govs and legislatures did not have to raise state taxes).

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Repeal the 17th Amendment for the reasons the first poster mentioned!

Been advocating the repeal of this amendment for twenty years. Glad to see Will catch up.

Did you write to your US Senator about the Stimulus Bill? Sop did 50,000 others.

Imagine, however, if you and thirty neighbors could have put pressure on your state rep to recall your senator if he voted for the stimulus, or any other issue for that matter. What if you could get your entire church to show up at his office to influence your senator? See my point?

Restore the Republic: Repeal the 17th Amendment!

Akzed on February 23, 2009 at 11:07 AM

PrincipledPilgrim on February 23, 2009 at 11:46 AM

To me its like a money laundering scheme. Give the money to the feds it comes back clean of responsibility to the tax payers (i.e., state govs and legislatures did not have to raise state taxes).

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Unfortunately yes. So why do I need to pay for a state government if all they do is shill for Washington?

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:47 AM

As long as states continue taking their fed govt whore $$, states rights will always be in the can.
I want our republic back. I’ve actually never seen a republic thanks to our cowardly states giving up their rights for the govt whore $$.
Schools, roads, whatever-they all take this govt whore $$.
I wish our gov Hoeven would give back the stimulus $$ for ND. We have a surplus. Why do we need it?
I am a citizen of my state 1st-then the US. Why did this ever change?!
Popular vote is scary. The nut-bags in Fargo & Grand Forks dictate how my life is lived. I hate it.

Badger40 on February 23, 2009 at 11:47 AM

“Return to Federalism, repeal the 17th. Put this country back on the track designed by the Founders, get the federal government out of every day life.”

*

Salute

marklmail on February 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM

There was some talk a few years back that states would begin to withold tax receipts from within their borders from going to DC – not sure what happened to that, but it sounds like a good time to revisit the subject.

Vashta.Nerada on February 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Under the original system, the popular vote only controlled one of three federal mechanisms; the other two were controlled by politicians. Burris actually makes the argument that the popular vote mandate would be preferable, if messier, than keeping the power to seat Senators with state lawmakers.

Well, if you start out by saying bad cases make bad law, then bringing up Burris to rebut an otherwise thoughtful argument must be prey to the same thing.

Also, the state legislatures may “control” the Senators, but *we* control the state legislatures…and I think it’s a better, more direct form of control. Politics is all local, after all. In effect it makes every single member of a state legislature a partner of the Senator. That’s terrific pressure to place on a state Assemblyman to keep the state’s Senator’s in line.

JohnTant on February 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM

There is an old expression that politicians are like swine — first you have to hit them between the eyes with a stick to get their attention.

Maybe what we need is a citizens movement in one or more states, states that have direct ballot initiative, calling for the dissolution of the state and transfer of all state government functions to the federal government.

I’ll bet if that idea caught hold the guys, and gals, in our state capitol would suddenly get interested in protecting states’ rights :-)

johnsteele on February 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM

If government officials were all made to resign their posts when they decided to take another full time job (campaigning), then we could elect replacements during the regular election.
If I worked as a secretary to a private corp. and I wanted a paycheck while not showing up and doing my job AND while attempting to get a promotion, then I would probably be fired.
Make them quit so we can use the regular election to find someone who really wants to do that job.

Ohio Granny on February 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Vashta.Nerada on February 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Having run a business and pay withholding taxes. I cannot see even how that idea is possible. When a couple pays with holding the money goes right to the feds, the states never touch it.

Now if the fair tax was implemented, then the states are the tax collectors for the feds.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:54 AM

On an unrelated note, I am waiting to hear on the radio during the business update the following:

The stock market is down 1%. market experts blame having Obama has POTUS.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:57 AM

Ohio Granny on February 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM

I have advocated on previous threads that campaigns should be allowed to pay the candidates salary’s up to the amount of the office they are running. As long as the books are open (i.e., the donors know this is going one), I see no issue with this. If this was in place, I would probably try to run for office.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 11:59 AM

The very case before us makes that argument completely laughable. Are we to assume that a Senator appointed by the Illinois legislature would be somehow less prone to undue influence than one who won in a popular election?

It does no such thing. The supposedly special case of the Illinois State Legislature is no more an argument against senatorial election by legislatures than is the special case of Mississippi an argument against federalism. Moreover, having both Representatives and Senators elected by the people directly is precisely to let the sh1theads at large exert “undue influence” over the Congress.

Kralizec on February 23, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Will’s rationale may be ironic, nevertheless, we must repeal the 17th.

I think his greater point was that the 17th accelerated the growth of progressive policies and led to this evolved group of princes empowered by incumbency. They no longer are concerned with States’ rights and priorities, rather the encroachment of the federal govt into every nook and cranny.

Here’s another reason: If the 17th was never enacted, would we have such “wise” men as LBJ, Bryd, Strom, Lott, Levin, Wright, and a host of other Senators that weathered legislative and/or governor shifts from one party to the other?

It’s rather doubtful, even for democratic strongholds such as Mass, that Teddy & Kerry would have endured so long, if the nationwide trend was to flip them every few cycles.

While I’m at it, would Congress have become a full-time occupation with benefits and pension, if not for the 17th?

AH_C on February 23, 2009 at 12:08 PM

I disagree that sending it all back to the state legislatures would create a cleaner Senate.

I think what makes Will’s point best and refutes Ed’s, is that look at all the focus that has been brought to IL’s state government. This amount of focus and attention should be the norm. The IL government should have a lot more impact on my life (I live in IL) than the feds.

I have always supported the repeal of the 17th amendment, but considered it low on the priority list. With this thread, I have moved it up this list.

Add this to my small list of times when I disagree with Ed.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 12:14 PM

The founding fathers did not imagine a government immune to corruption. They divided up the power so that even if completely infested with corruption, government would work because of the competition between corrupt leaders for power. Instead of “one stop shopping” for lobbyists, as Will discusses in his column, power would be divided between state capitals and Washington, and they would keep each other under control.

joe_doufu on February 23, 2009 at 12:15 PM

joe_doufu on February 23, 2009 at 12:15 PM

It cracks me up when Pols create ethics laws. Like some law can contain human nature. Want an effective ethics law, shrink the size of governments. For things that government needs to do, push those powers down as close to the people as you can. That’s an effective ethics law.

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 12:23 PM

The 17th Amendment will probably never be repealed–how many firmly ensconced Senators with strong popular support would want to put their fate into the whims of state legislators? The other question is how the voters would react–they probably pay more attention to U.S. Senate elections than to elections for state legislators (held in odd years for some states, with very low turnout).

There are good reasons to support the Feingold amendment proposal for requiring a special election for a Senate vacancy, as is required for House vacancies. The most obvious is to avoid appointment of Senators by corrupt governors like Blagojevich, who may be trying to “sell” a Senate seat. Another problem is the question of the willingness of Senators to run for President or Vice-President, or accept Cabinet posts–with more willingness if the Governor is of the same party as the Senator. It is also possible that a Governor may be unpopular toward the end of his/her term, and make a partisan appointment which might not be accepted by the state’s electorate.

If special elections were imposed for Senatorial vacancies, sitting Senators (who might have two to four years left in their terms) would be less likely to resign for Cabinet positions if party control of the seat could shift (during a special election) if the Governor is of the same party as the incumbent Senator. The only major drawback to special elections would be the time required to organize them (including party primaries), which could leave a Senate seat vacant for several months.

One possible “middle-ground” solution would be to retain the Governor appointment for Senate vacancies due to death or ill health, but require special elections for VOLUNTARY resignations to seek higher office or Cabinet positions. This would tend to discourage Senators from abandoning the duty to which they were elected, if their constituents, rather than a Governor of the same party, could name their replacement.

Steve Z on February 23, 2009 at 1:21 PM

In a short 10 years America changed drastically:

-The Harrison Narcotics act of 1914 to enforce the Shanghai Convention of 1909,

-Amendment XVI to the Constitution allowing proportional taxation per person directly from citizens,

-The Clayton Anti-Trust Act,

-Amendment XVII to the Constitution changing how Senators were to be chosen,

-Public Law 62-5 setting the size of Congress as *fixed* not to float with the increase in population,

-Amendment XVIII to Prohibit Alcohol,

-The creation of the Federal Reserve which messed up both the stock market crash of ’29 and our current situation.

In ten years the entire structure of American government and its relationship to the people drastically altered by those selling lovely ideas of how we can control our fellow citizens, incur costs only to the ‘fat cats’ and stop citizens from using medications by throwing them in jails, with doctors soon following that. Proportional taxation would *only* be used at the top of the income scale, or so it was sold… but once the federal government got its fingers in your pocket the picking of your funds did not stop.

Repeal the Amendment XVII? A good start.

About the only real good argument that I can see is for the anti-trust act, and even that has its problems and abuses. Somehow the idea of breaking IBM just never did work out and trying to do the same against Microsoft was OBE. Our markets change far faster now than ever before, and companies that cannot change will fail. AT&T was already trying to stop new services from eroding land line telephones, and its days as a regulated monopoly would not have changed the pace of technology, only its venue.

Instead of good government we have gotten overbearing and corrupt government, that can raid our bank accounts to the beck and call of special interests. Of the 9% holding over-valued loans only a fraction of those are in default, and yet we treat it as a calamity to be ‘fixed’ by stealing from the law abiding and thrifty citizen to pay off the deadbeat’s debts. Regulation in health care has gotten us subsidies with the result of healthcare now being over used, to the point were redundant testing would have *paid*, in full, for the health care of tens of millions of our fellow citizens. We have had more regulations instituted since 1972 than in all the years of the Republic until then… by a factor of two. And the cost of government goes up, continually, even without the ponzi scheme of social security and the subsidies to health care.

Removing Amendment XVII is a nice start.

How about sunsetting all laws, programs and regulations after 10 years so that they have to be re-upped and pass a President’s scrutiny?

Remove from Congress the ability to set the size of the House, that should be in the hands of the people to set at a given proportion so we all get accountable representation. Huge companies can easily communicate amongst far more people than our Congress, and if you sum up the House and its paid-for *staff* you come very close to the 1:30,000 maximum House under the Constitution. Actually, you could save a few spaces and downsize the thing by setting the House at that and giving members *no* staff. The answer to representation is more and more accountable representatives, not a static, gerrymandered, political hack system we have now by Congressional fiat.

To those who say you can’t change America quickly: in 10 short years it changed drastically. And removing changes, though painful to our understanding, would return us to something out great grandparents knew first hand… those folks who created an industrial powerhouse at the end of the 19th century that would surpass all others before the changes took full force. People who took care of themselves, minded their own business and had the great right to be scandalized by their neighbors without feeling a law had to be passed against them.

10 years that changed America.

For the worse.

ajacksonian on February 23, 2009 at 1:27 PM

I’m going to channel my inner Jonah Goldberg for a second…

Why all this fealty to popular votes, anyway? Why is the popular vote automatically assumed to be the most virtuous way of setting up government? A mob can be just as tyrannical (if not moreso) than a single individual…

If anything, the efforts by the Left to get more voters on the rolls, voters with little or no stake in the outcome, should put the lie to this philosophy. Indeed, when a sizeable chunk of the popular vote pays little to no income tax, ought we not be worried about the makeup of the electorate? Taxation without representation used to be the clarion call to action…but now we have representation without taxation, and I’m darned if I can understand how that is somehow “better” than, oh, the landed gentry being the only ones who vote….

JohnTant on February 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM

Additional thought:

Popular election of senators has made senators nothing more than at-large congressmen. Why do we need at-large congressmen?

Akzed on February 23, 2009 at 1:56 PM

-Public Law 62-5 setting the size of Congress as *fixed* not to float with the increase in population, …

House and its paid-for *staff* you come very close to the 1:30,000 maximum House under the Constitution…

ajacksonian on February 23, 2009 at 1:27 PM

I looked at the constitution to understand how congress could do that (stated above), and, wow, what a gaping hole in the constitution. The constituion has maximum respresentation written into it, no more than one rep per 30,000 people. The constituion has NO minimum respresentation written into it, except for one rep per state. One could create a law that is constitutional that states that all States shall have one rep. Wow!

WashJeff on February 23, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Taxation without representation used to be the clarion call to action…but now we have representation without taxation, and I’m darned if I can understand how that is somehow “better” than, oh, the landed gentry being the only ones who vote….

Fantastic quote JohnTant!
I may use “No Representation without Taxation” as a placard at the tea party on Friday.

joe_doufu on February 23, 2009 at 2:08 PM

I usually pretty much agree with Ed, but vehemently disagree on this issue. I point to the ratification of the 17th and the 16th Amendments in 1913 as where the USA began to be fitted for its coffin. I would celebrate a repeal the 17th Amendment movement and actively participate.

deepdiver on February 23, 2009 at 4:58 PM

Repealing the 17th Amendment would mean that senators would be beholding to their states more than their national parties. They would be less likely to behave like a Daschle, acting one way at home and another in their real home, DC. It would free them up from the need to raise funds for getting re-elected. It would free them, somewhat, from the power of their party’s leadership in the Senate. Their 6 year terms were designed to give them a certain amount of independence from politics.

Laurence on February 23, 2009 at 7:29 PM

There’s a yahoo group for people interested in learning more about the 17th Amendment.

JohnJ on February 23, 2009 at 7:51 PM

Repeal the 16th and 17th amendments. Institute term limits and the fair tax. Only then will America survive another 200 years.

Bear Grass on February 23, 2009 at 9:15 PM

Fat chance of passing this Constitutional change.
As we saw with Blagojavich, he was an elected representative who violated his public trust.
A duly elected Govt. Official is an instrument of the electorate, and as such, governs, and appoints, with the consent of the people.
We don,t need no stinking Federal laws concerning Senate replacements.
If the appointment sucks, the Senate can choose not to seat the appointee, or the electorate can wait and correct the issue the next “state” election.
Or, Impeach the SOB Govenator.

JayTee on February 23, 2009 at 10:04 PM

The 17th Amendment was enacted because of bickering and wrangling at the State level over the Senatorial nominee(s). Corrupt politicians are not a new phenomenon, nor are special interests limited to only the Federal government. More and more, the State Legislators were unable to agree upon a Senator, and seats were going unfilled for months; for years in some cases. That is the problem that the 17th Amendment was trying to address.

Repealing the 17th Amendment might indeed foster a better loyalty by the Senator to the State, but repealing it does not address the problem of grid-locked State legislators that brought it about in the first place.

ss396 on February 23, 2009 at 11:30 PM

10 years that changed America.

For the worse.

ajacksonian on February 23, 2009 at 1:27 PM

AMEN!!!

Repealing the 17th Amendment might indeed foster a better loyalty by the Senator to the State, but repealing it does not address the problem of grid-locked State legislators that brought it about in the first place.

ss396 on February 23, 2009 at 11:30 PM

Well, let the onus lay where it belongs — at the State level. If a particular legislature can’t get its act together, they can be mocked for acting the fool and leaving themselves unrepresented.

Even more so in this day and age of instant communications. Consider the context of the era leading up to this amendment where legislators were part time and getting consensus might have been long in coming. Nevertheless, let the States figure out their own way of selecting and exerting their influence on the Senators — and popular vote beauty contests be damned.

AH_C on February 24, 2009 at 2:48 PM