With the amount of press the 17th Amendment has been receiving lately, I try to post opposition articles to the repeal when I come across the better posts. Here is one such by Professor Steven Taylor: here are his points against:
Comment: I just spotted this post this morning and will have more time this evening to reply. I'll post in the comments section of the web-log and please comment here or on Mr. Taylor's web-log as well.
In all truth, I find the whole notion to be a bizarre one. Here are some reasons why.
1) The notion that somehow having the state legislatures choose Senators is more representative of the state’s interest than having the voters of the state choose the Senator is odd on its face. It assumes that the state legislature is more representative of the state than the state’s citizens. Since the former is a non-random sample of the latter, it is rather unclear to me why this would be the case. Further, since the state legislature is chosen by the citizens of the state I am wholly unclear on why giving them the power to choose Senators makes that selection better for the state than allowing the citizens to select the Senators. Why the addition of a group of middle-men/women would improve the quality of selection is beyond me.
Why would this:
be superior to this?
The logic is strange insofar as it assumes that voters should be the fount of power for the legislature, which is the key power of state government, but the voters can’t be trusted to choose Senators.
Further, it assumes that politicians (i.e, state legislators) actually deserve more trust than voters.
This especially odd, as most citizens don’t pay all that much attention to their state legislators so ceding the power to that body to select Senators is like tossing it into a black box.
2) A corollary to the above: how can we say that there is a “state interest” that is separable from the interests of the people in a given state? There is a weird fetish here that reifies the state as though it is an entity at least in part separate from the people that live within its borders. If all the people left the state of Texas, then so, too, would Texas lose any “interests” as a state. It would just then be a lot of land.
3) It is wholly unclear (despite what “The Campaign to Restore Federalism” argues here) that Senators selected by state legislatures would behave all that differently in terms of things like pork barrel spending and the basic behavior of the federal government than one elected by the citizens. What, state legislatures don’t like highway and education funding?
4) There is no reason to associate the nature of selection of Senators with the quality or existence of federalism. Despite what some argue, the states still maintain a great deal of policy autonomy in a number of areas (the same ones they have for a long time now, like criminal justice and education) and the very nature of the Senate, with co-equal representation further solidifies federalism. The way those Senators are selected really have very little to do with any of that.