Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Repeal of 17th Amendment Would Improve Senate

Repeal of 17th Amendment would improve Senate; Dale M. Knapp; The Santa Fe New Mexican

The founding fathers had it right! Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution states "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state chosen by the Legislature thereof." When the Constitution was written, the authors envisioned the Senate as being composed of "statesmen" who were more interested in doing what was right for all people rather than having an ideological, self-promoting and narrow agenda. Members of the state legislature would choose the senators on the basis of proven past actions for the common good and not on the basis of party.

Today, senators are elected with an allegiance for his or her party and not for the country's best interest. In recent years, some have proven to be an embarrassment both at home and abroad. To a large extent, the amount of money that is poured into a campaign determines the outcome of the election. In the 2008 election, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spent $21 million to be re-elected as senator. In an upcoming 2010 election, one candidate from California has already spent more than $40 million, and that is just for the primary.

Where is all this money coming from? The bulk of the contributions are given by large corporations, which has encouraged many of the senators to be beholden to one or more industries. It has become increasingly obvious that the Senate we have is totally dysfunctional, and there seems to be no prospect of improvement. Witness the recent debacle on health care reform! What can we do about it?

In 1913, the 17th Amendment was ratified, requiring each senator to be elected by the voters within their state. What seemed like a good change has turned into a fiasco. Currently, there are over 200 bills languishing in the Senate that have been approved by the House. Where is the Senate? Members of the Senate prefer to threaten a filibuster or to "just say no" rather than take action. I believe this inaction is due almost entirely to party loyalty rather than honest disapproval. Is this the way we want our government to function? I think not!

Read the rest here.

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