More and more Tea Party activists looking to repeal the 17th Amendment. I like it!
The New York Times’ David Firestone takes a critical look at the efforts among some Tea Party activists to repeal the 17th Amendment, which provides for the direct popular election of U.S. Senators:
Allowing Americans to choose their own senators seems so obvious that it is hard to remember that the nation’s founders didn’t really trust voters with the job. The people were given the right to elect House members. But senators were supposed to be a check on popular rowdiness and factionalism. They were appointed by state legislatures, filled with men of property and stature.
A modern appreciation of democracy — not to mention a clear-eyed appraisal of today’s dysfunctional state legislatures — should make the idea unthinkable. But many Tea Party members and their political candidates are thinking it anyway, convinced that returning to the pre-17th Amendment system would reduce the power of the federal government and enhance state rights.
That’s precisely the point Judge Andrew Napolitano made when I interviewed him about his new book Lies the Government Told You. Here’s his argument against the 17th Amendment:
In favor of the 17th Amendment:
So You Still Want to Choose Your Senator? Few members of the Tea Party have endorsed Rand Paul’s misgivings about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but a surprising number are calling for the repeal of an older piece of transformative legislation: the 17th Amendment. If you don’t have the Constitution on your smartphone, that’s the one adopted in 1913 that provides for direct popular election of United States senators.
LEAVE THE 17TH AMENDMENT ALONE.... Over the last year or so, the evidence that the Tea Partiers' agenda can be pretty far out there has been overwhelming. What you may not have heard, however, is that this same far-right crowd is especially incensed about the existence of the 17th Amendment -- the constitutional provision that empowers the electorate to choose their own senators, rather than state legislatures doing it, as the Constitution originally mandated.
Against the 17th Amendment:
Repeal the 17th. Nearing election time again, we are reminded that the there are no checks and balances available to the states over federal power or over Congress itself in any area. However, in the history of our country, it was not always this way. In the original design by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution, there was an effective check on Congress through the state legislatures' power to appoint (and remove) United States Senators.
Repeal the 17th Amendment. It’s where big government begins. There is only one time when a U.S. senator is really free to speak the truth — when he’s announced his retirement. Since he no longer has to worry about raising money, pandering to voters, or retaliation from his colleagues, he can say what he really thinks about issues no other member of the Senate will discuss. For this reason, it is worth listening to Sen. Zell Miller, Democrat of Georgia, who recently spoke a truth that no senator except a retiring one would dare say.
No Taxation Without Representation! In the current U.S. House of Representatives, each member "represents" around 674,000 (FY2005) constituents. Now, this may surprise you ... but this puts United States citizens among the least represented people in government, anywhere on the globe!
The Case for Bigger Government. For the first 130 years of our republic, the size of the House of Representatives grew to accommodate the rapidly growing population, but that all changed in 1920, because Congress claimed it was running out of office space.
Repudiate the National Debt! To think sensibly about the public debt, we first have to go back to first principles and consider debt in general. Put simply, a credit transaction occurs when C, the creditor, transfers a sum of money (say $1,000) to D, the debtor, in exchange for a promise that D will repay C in a year's time the principal plus interest. If the agreed interest rate on the transaction is 10 percent, then the debtor obligates himself to pay in a year's time $1,100 to the creditor. This repayment completes the transaction, which in contrast to a regular sale, takes place over time.
Start here: Repeal the 17th Amendment.