Adopted in 1913, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution is a small box packing big news. Each state, it says, gets two senators “elected by the people thereof” to work for it in Washington.
While states had for years held de facto direct elections for senators, the 17th Amendment made it law, giving voters the right to choose who they want in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., and some of his fellow tea party candidates now frivolously say they want it gone.
In July, at an “America Speaking Out” event in downtown Athens, Broun told a handful of attendees that “Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson started this process of socializing America. And they did it with ... the 17th Amendment that allows the direct election of U.S. senators ... I’d like to see the 16th Amendment and the 17th Amendment to be repealed, finally.”
According to Broun, it’s the non-special-interest, non-big-government thing to do for state legislatures, not voters, to choose senators. Broun isn’t alone on this. Also in this year’s repeal-it class are Ken Buck, former aide to then-U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney and a former U.S. attorney, now the Republican Senate pick in Colorado; and Joe Miller, a Yale Law School graduate and Republican Senate pick in Alaska.
What’s the point? Why has this rather usual-sounding part of the Constitution come up as a national campaign issue? And since tea partiers talk so much about their love of the Constitution, why would they want to “recover” it in victory only so they can snap off one of its limbs?
Read the rest of the AJC opinion piece here.
Comment: The argument behind this opinion piece is direct verses indirect democracy method, which the authors favor the direct. This is a fairly typical emotional argument, but lacks the facts to sustain the debate.
The authors rely upon the citizens to take the appropriate action when a Senator doesn’t perform to the voters’ requirement. Well as much as our state legislative bodies are maligned in the media, what can we really say about the general public that has little to no knowledge about the US Constitution, US History, economics, law, or even current events, all of which are needed to be a discerning voter. And we shouldn’t dismiss the general lack of interest in voting, where we see the number of actual voters as low 30 percent in some cases.
Nevertheless, the real issues were not considered, for example, this is a republic not a democracy, direct democracy was meant to be used sparingly; the original constitution called for the states to be represented in the Senate and the people in the House, and because of the 17th Amendment the crucial checks and balances have been inexplicably damaged since the states are no longer represented; the consequences of the 17th Amendment have produced a steady state of war since WWII; unconstitutional entitlement programs; tremendous deficit and spending; a growing paramilitary police state; loss of civil liberties that WERE guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, at least when they were signed in 1787; super growth of the federal government; and closer movement towards world government and the loss of our national sovereignty, just to name a few.
If Misters Bennett and Williams would like to be honest about the debate then they should at least address the deeper issues affecting the country, whose root cause in all cases is the 17th Amendment.