Monday, August 23, 2010

The case for repealing the 17th Amendment

The case for repealing the 17th Amendment; Jeff Stucker's Office Livespace

In terms of structural impact to our government, the 17th Amendment was the worst amendment to the US Constitution, and should be repealed.

Currently, there is no power structure in Washington DC which represents the states. I'm not speaking of the people in the states, I'm talking about the states themselves.

The founding fathers knew exactly what they were doing in setting up checks and balances in our government, and the 17th Amendment destroyed one of the most valuable -- that is, a check on the centralization of power from the states to the federal government.

I've held this position for years but had little hope of its actual repeal because it seemed too esoteric for the average person. Now it's quite refreshing to see a movement of people -- everyday, salt of the earth people -- who know their Constitutional history well enough to understand the consequences at stake in this debate.

Representing the people of the state is different than representing the government of the state.

We all know why we have three branches of government -- separation of powers. The federal system was based on a similarly motivated separation of powers. You embed into the system checks and balances. Those checks and balances are designed to go far beyond the power of an individual's vote in a general election, to structurally and explicitly prevent consolidation of power.

If the federal government takes a dollar instead of the state government taking a dollar, the individual does not feel the difference right away. But the state government knows immediately when it loses power to the federal government. That is why the senators were initially accountable to the state governments, so they would have a natural check on consolidating their power into Washington DC.

Right now, in Washington DC, the president is accountable to the legislature and judiciary through risk of impeachment; the legislature is accountable to the executive through veto and the judiciary through court rulings, and the judiciary is accountable to the legislature and executive through new legislation. This accountability is built into the structure of the system and exert continuous force even in between the elections; however, with the repeal of the 17th Amendment, no power structure in Washington DC is accountable to state governments. Without this accountability, aka check and balance, consolidation of power is inevitable because unchecked power always grows.

Power is a necessary feature of government, in order to prevent anarchy and an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” system of personal revenge that happens without government. So the power that comes from the people is delegated, consolidating the right to use force. Yet power corrupts, and consolidation of power hastens corruption, so the American founding fathers were careful in how they designed a system of accountability to prevent the unchecked authority that leads to totalitarianism. One of their concerns – and ours today -- is the federal balance of power between distributed states and centralized national government.

Before the 17th Amendment, power delegated to the state governments was then delegated to the Senate. In other words, the Senators not only answered to the people directly, they answered to the state governments as the intermediate source of their power. With all power in Washington DC coming directly from the people, now there is no overt force to keep power distributed to the states. ...

Read the rest here.

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