While reading the article in your Sept. 14, 2006 edition regarding the Independent Green candidate for the U.S. Senate, it occurred to me that most Americans may not realize how the U.S. Senate lends itself to "special interest," or why it is virtually impossible for an independent candidate to achieve office there.
When the U.S. Constitution was ratified, Article I, Sec. 3 provided that all
There were no expensive campaigns; and "special interest" influence was very limited, and under close observation. Then, along came the 17th Amendment.
The 17th Amendment (notably ratified the same year as the 16th, i.e., "Income Tax Amendment;" and along with the Federal Reserve Act of 1913), provided for the popular election of U.S. senators; which invited the influence of special interest groups by way of the now-enormous expense of funding a senate campaign.
In essence, the U.S. Senate was up for bids. Sold.
People talk about "campaign finance reform" in endless and pointless debate without considering how it came to be an issue in the first place.
The Founders set up our system so you could send your neighbor to the state legislatures. Then, you could go to your neighbors' houses and ask why some disappointing jerk was sent by them to the U.S. Senate. Hopefully, your legislators/neighbors would be very careful about who was appointed to serve.
They, too, had a chance to serve if they conducted themselves with dignity and integrity. That is the "grass-roots politics" for which so many now long.
True senate integrity and a hamstringing of special interest could begin with a repeal of the 17th Amendment.
Comment: Mr. Stinnett is very correct. Any initiative to correct the problem in the Senate is fruitless because all it will do is to serve the incumbents. Look at the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Bill. It was written by the two Senators to protect Senators. Only by repealing of 17th amendment will the larger part of special interest be taken out of government. One should not be too green to think this would totally rid the country of the special interest problem; but this would remove a significant chunk nonetheless.