Fill in the blank: This November’s elections are about: Jobs? The economy? Health care? Government spending? Taxes?
The 17th Amendment?
Maybe. The 1913 amendment to the Constitution - the one which provides for the direct popular election of U.S. senators rather than selection by each state’s legislature - is something of a pet cause within the tea party movement.
A few Republican candidates indicated that they supported its repeal, before changing their minds. That’s not stopped advertisements from Democrats trying to portray those candidates as “extreme” and out of touch.
In Colorado, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has funded an ad against Republican candidate Ken Buck, saying he “wanted to rewrite the Constitution” to eliminate the direct election of senators. Buck’s campaign says that he reconsidered his position the evening after he made comments in support of repeal at a June 2009 event and that the advertisement was an attempt to distract voters from economic issues.
In Florida, Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd, has a TV ad attacking his Republican opponent, Steve Southerland, for wanting “the Florida legislature to choose our senators for us.”
Southerland was filmed in July responding to a question about the 17th Amendment at a candidate forum; he said that he was concerned at the extent to which the Constitution had been tampered with since the 18th century. “To that question, I’m fine with that. I think that… the more we tinker with those men did, I think the farther we get away from their original intent,” he said.
Southerland’s campaign said the candidate doesn’t support repeal. “Steve believes in the guiding principles set forth by our Founding Fathers, but he has no intention of overturning the 17th Amendment to take away the direct election of our senators,” said spokesman Matt McCullough.
Another Florida ad from Democratic Rep. Suzanne Kosmas says her GOP opponent, Sandy Adams, “has some strange ideas,” including repealing the 17th Amendment. The Adams campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Our colleagues on the Law Blog summed up the arguments in the debate earlier this year.
Comment: The idea of repealing the 17th Amendment is building steam, albeit slowly, but it is gaining traction. The notion of repealing the 17th Amendment first took hold in libertarian circles and because there is a strong cross over between Libertarians, Traditional Conservatives and the disenfranchised Republicans within certain regional Tea Parties, the idea has gained traction in the national Tea Party movement. (The idea is taking root and like a locust tree is going to be hard as hell to cut down and spreads rapidly with new shoots, especially in weak soil. You might say the nutritional value of our national soil is lacking in the key elements of freedom, liberty and limited government. But idea of repealing the 17th is not going away.)
Growing much faster than the 17th repeal effort is the effort to repeal the 16th in whole or in part. In the Fair-Tax and Flat-Tax circles group leaders are trying to keep their cause nonpartisan and focused solely on their particular method of revamping the tax system. But as the majority of these tax revisionist begin to understand the actual scope of the problem in Washington, and with government in general, the two issues, repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendments, will be linked to a greater effort to restore the 9th and 10th Amendments.
Moreover, once the question of the proper role of government within our country grows into inevitable movements the matter will eventually become partisan because clearly we have two distinct camps growing in this country that are seeking to define that role. One that seeks centralized federal control with the authority to tax income and the other that seeks a limited role of the federal government with no authority to tax directly and sees the state government as the source of limited social services.
However, the second group will not become the majority until our country's economic strife becomes worse, the tax burden grows to a point that those employed will no longer accept their unwanted burden, and the 60's generation dies off. But as the demographics change in this country we will see the movement toward repealing the 16th and 17th grow.
The source of unchecked power in Congress rests on 16th and 17th Amendments. Americans are realizing this everyday, so it doesn't matter what the politicians or the media thinks about the issue, it's what we the people do. Give it time; this idea is growing and will not be cut down.