Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sensenbrenner Gets the 17th Wrong

It’s time to amend the 17th Amendment; F. James Sensenbrenner; WISOPINION.COM; 19 Feb 2009.

Sometimes it's important to take a good thing and make it even better - whether that's mixing chocolate with peanut butter or updating the 17th Amendment.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, the United States Senate Ethics Committee began investigating Senator Roland Burris, and how he came to be the individual selected to replace President Obama in the Senate.

A shadow of doubt has been cast on Senator Burris, and whether he had illegally agreed to raise money for former Governor Rod Blagojevich. I believe the Senate investigation is appropriate and the right conclusion will be drawn.

At the same time, given the recent fiascos and horse-trading we've seen regarding not only the Senate seat in Illinois, but also New York, Delaware and Colorado, we need to close the window on Senate appointments.

In Wisconsin, we're very fortunate that a state statute requires a special election to fill a vacated U.S. Senate seat. As a result, Wisconsin has never had an appointed U.S. Senator - our Senators have always been selected by the people. Other states are not as fortunate and sometimes, as we've seen this election cycle, chaos ensues.

I believe all U.S. Senators should be directly elected by the people, not selected by one person. That's why last week I joined forces with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, to cosponsor a Constitutional Amendment that would modify the 17th Amendment by calling for the direct election of all U.S. Senators, even those filling vacancies. The Amendment lets states decide how the election should be conducted, but makes it clear that U.S. Senators must be elected by the people of their state.

As we are celebrating many presidents this week, including the births of George Washington, one of our Nation's Founding Fathers, and Abraham Lincoln, a man who wrote the words "A government of the people, by the people, for the people" in his Gettysburg Address, I can only speculate that these men would support the direct election of all U.S. senators.

-- Sensenbrenner, a Republican, represents Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District.

Comment: Representative Sensenbrenner is quite mistaken on a number of levels. First the “horse trading" goes on in every state and in every corner of politics. I am willing to bet he engaged in a certain level of “horse trading" just to become a candidate in his state republican party. This is the problem we face with the two main parties that block and prevent third party candidates, much less those candidates that garner a high degree of popular support but are not party disciples, from running openly. Truth be told, if there was one area that prevents the people from exercising their vote, it’s in the two party system.

He is also incorrect concerning a potential revision of 17th amendment that would let the “states” decide. The truth of the matter is that the people would not choose the candidate any more than they do today in regular general elections. Party insiders and special interest groups, who provide the huge sums of money, now choose Senators.

Sensenbrenner finishes his statement with a warped understanding of US history. Both Washington and Lincoln believed in the balance of power created by the founders. Washington, a founder Mr Sensenbrenner, understood full well the relationship between the states and the federal government, as he demonstrated through out his participation during the Constitutional Convention. Even during the period when Lincoln exercised what was considered the highest level of draconian federal control our nation had yet known, he never lost sight of the role and power of the state. And certainly both men knew, unlike Mr. Sensenbrenner, that our form of government is not a democracy but a republic.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, like so many in Congress, should take a course in US History and read his Constitution; you know the one he swore to uphold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Geroge Will wants to repeal the 17th Amendment: