Ben Sasse is wrong: Keep the 17th Amendment

It is true that direct election of senators has coincided with, and almost certainly contributed to, the growth of the federal government at the expense of the states. But restoring the indirect election of senators is unlikely to fix the problems Sasse identifies. First of all, the growth of nationalized politics driven by nationalized media is, by now, all-consuming: Everything is interpreted through the lens of the person of the president. Even many state and local elections these days end up as de facto referenda on Donald Trump or Barack Obama. Having senators answer to a different electorate would not change the fact that those electorates are obsessed with the White House. There was a time when voters wanted state-government figures to bring their ideas and experience to Washington: That’s how we got Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House, as well as presidential nominations for Mitt Romney, Michael Dukakis, Adlai Stevenson, Tom Dewey, Alf Landon, and Al Smith. But the voters seem to have lost interest in that in recent cycles, preferring high-national-profile figures such as Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton over governors such as Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Jay Inslee, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, Chris Christie, John Hickenlooper, Mike Huckabee, Deval Patrick, Steve Bullock, Jim Gilmore, and George Pataki.

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