HT: David in Iowa and the Repeal the 17th Amendment Discussion Group
Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute, asks that question this morning in his column at the Washington Examiner.
Quick, what's the 17th Amendment? Good on you if you didn't need a lifeline: It's the one that mandated direct election of senators, instead of having them appointed by state legislatures.
Thanks to the wonderfully impertinent Tea Partiers, that 1913 "reform" is no longer just the stuff of trivia -- it recently made headlines in House and Senate races.
Two Republican nominees for House seats -- Ohio's Steve Strivers and Idaho's Raul Labrador -- have expressed sympathy for repeal. And Tim Bridgewater, one of two Tea Party candidates who last month knocked off sitting Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, argues that "if the states elected their senators, legislative monstrosities like ObamaCare or [No Child Left Behind], with their burdensome mandates, would never see the light of day."
Predictably, the liberal intelligentsia has responded with scorn. Of all the "goofy ideas from those lovable wacky Tea Partyers [sic]," John Aloysius Farrell writes at USNews.com, this is the "stupidest." Repeal talk is "truly regressive," even "Paleolithic," Timothy Egan seethes in Sunday's New York Times.
Apparently, the only thing worse than peasants with pitchforks is peasants with pocket Constitutions. [emphasis added]
Healy argues that while repeal of the 17th amendment is highly unlikely, there is nothing "silly or retrograde" about it. Virginia's George Mason, he points out, argued in 1787 that direct election of Senators would allow the newly empowered federal government to "swallow up the state legislatures."
Throughout the column Healy refers to George Mason University Law School Professor Todd Zywicki's work on the 17th amendment. For more information, some of his work on the topic can be found here, here, and here.
Congressman Paul has often discussed repealing the 16th and 17th amendment and rightly so, as both have done tremendous damage to federalism and limited government. While Healy describes any effort to repeal the 17th as "noble but quixotic", it's still a goal worth striving towards, if only to wake up and educate those around us.Read all the comments here.
Comment: I have to disagree with Mr. Healy. Since I have started my small quixotic quest I have seen interest in the repeal grow. Maybe not as fast as interest for the repeal of the 16th (national income tax), but when people begin to understand the history surrounding the 17th and the serious consequences we are experiencing as result, opinions turn 180 degrees rapidly. (It's about education!)
I think that when a number of issues manifest in such a way, i.e. loss of US sovereignty, a global tax, and the astronomical deficit being placed upon the back of our young, repealing of the 17th is going to become one of the few means available, and left, to keep the Union together, because on the horizon is another supposed quixotic movement that people only thought years ago was a fringe movement, secession.
Update: Note the comments at The Volokh Conspiracy. The Healy article was linked to by Todd Zywicki.