Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tony Blankley: Repeal the 17th Amendment to Shift Influence out of Washington

As an early-1960s-vintage member of the then-new conservative movement, I remember us focusing on the 10th Amendment during the 1964 Goldwater campaign. It has been a staple of conservative thought, and the continued dormancy of 10th Amendment enforcement has been one of the failures of our now half-century-old movement.

But just as the Tea Party movement seems in so many ways to represent the 2.0 version of our movement, so I again thought about the 10th Amendment anew. After about 10 seconds' thought, it struck me that the best way to revive the 10th Amendment is to repeal the 17th Amendment - which changes the first paragraph of Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution to provide that each state's senators are to be "elected by the people thereof" rather than being "chosen by the Legislature thereof."(As I Googled the topic, I found out that Ron Paul and others have been talking about this for years. It may be the only subject that could be proposed and ratified at a constitutional convention with three-fourths of the state legislatures.)

At first blush, this might seem counterintuitive, as the 17th Amendment was brought about by a populist movement supercharged by muckraking articles in the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst. Those articles exposed corporate bribery of state legislators to control senatorial votes. As the direct election of senators by the people was a reaction to the corrupt lobbying of state legislatures that so aggrieved late-19th-century Americans, it might seem odd to recommend its repeal now - when again corrupt lobbying and the aggrandizing of excessive government power over the people is part of the fuel that is driving the Tea Parties.

...But in my defense, let me note initially that the 17th Amendment has not yet ended the legal but appalling bribery of U.S. senators - it has merely moved it to Washington.

You simply must go read the whole thing. And welcome aboard, Mr. Blankley!

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