Gregg Easterbrook writes Tuesday Morning Quarterback for ESPN.com. The weekly column is a must-read for wonky fans of the NFL, touching on matters as varied as black holes, global warming and the questionable need to punt by fraidy-cat coaches.
Easterbrook noted this week that six current U.S. Senators have been appointed rather than elected. To illustrate the point, the column has a picture of Florida Sen. George LeMieux with a pensive look on his face. The cutline to the photo: “He’s trying hard to think of a reason he should be an unelected senator.” LeMieux was appointed to the Senate by his close friend, Gov. Charlie Crist, whom LeMieux had served as chief of staff and campaign manager.
Here are Easterbrook’s thoughts on the spate of unelected senators:
“Originally, United States senators were chosen by a state’s legislature; popular election to the Senate did not commence until the 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913. The point of the 17th Amendment was to stop political insiders from gaining free admission to the Senate, ensuring members of the upper chamber were chosen by the public.
“The amendment also allowed governors to appoint senators to hold open seats until an election could be organized. With Paul Kirk just named as interim occupant of Kennedy’s seat, there are now six unelected members of the Senate — the others are Michael Bennet of Colorado, Roland Burris of Illinois, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Edward Kaufman of Delaware and George LeMieux of Florida — with a seventh unelected senator in prospect if Kay Hutchison of Texas wins her race to become that state’s governor.
“How can the Senate be legitimate with so many unelected members? The whole point of the 17th Amendment is that it is offensive to democracy to grant political insiders who were never elected the power to lord it over the people. Unelected senators don’t even have to be confirmed, like judges or justices: They’re just insiders granted power.”
Comment: The same old debate; keeping the perceived "insiders" out of government. The fact is that it is always the said insider that has, one, the resources needed to politic, and two, the interest and necessity to be involved. The common citizen doesn't. This why in my humble opinion universal suffrage is wrong, where as I believe only those persons who own private property (land) should have the right to vote; they have a vested interest in protecting their property and will ensure the government does as well. I know many find this antiquated, but it's my belief.
Anyway I digress...a lone commenter on the blog, Tom Edmondson, had a great response to the writers lack of knowledge concerning the issues surrounding the 17th Amendment:
The founders of the Federal government, in the Constitution amending the Articles of Confederation, made Two Senators to be appointed by the legislatures of the states. The House represents the state’s citizens and the Senate protected the state’s rights in national competition. The two best debaters and oraters were selected; There was no expensive election campaign. Another ‘check and balance’ to protect the rights of the individual from the majority in it’s various forms. In order to begin to re-inforce Constitutional rights, the 17th Amendment should be repealed. 100 years ago during a similar ‘progressive’ President’s tenure (Woodrow Wilson), the US adopted three of the 10 planks of the Marxist Manifesto. A personal graduated income tax (16th); Direct election of Senators (a move towards democracy[majority rule] by eliminating state’s rights protection)17th Amendment; and the creation of a privately owned Federal banking system to regulate the US Currency. Join Campaign for Liberty and End The Fed..Excellent response!