Tuesday, December 14, 2010

So why NOT repeal the 17th Amendment?

So why NOT repeal the 17th Amendment? BRADWARTHEN.COM

The Framers created the House and Senate to be very different institutions, on a fundamental level. Actually, on a number of fundamental levels.

First, they wanted the constituencies to be different. That’s an essential element in making checks and balances work. The president is elected by the electoral college, which in turn is more or less selected by popular vote (although not originally, but hey, one fight at a time), and can only serve four years at a time (let’s also set aside the newfangled term limit). Judges are chosen by the president, with advice and consent of the Senate. The House of Representatives is the People’s House, and consists of directly, popularly elected delegates who have to run for election every five minutes (or two years, which amounts to the same thing), and are therefore particularly attuned to popular whims, ripples and twitches, in real time. Senators, by contrast, are supposed to be somewhat above that fray, and are supposed to represent STATES, not groups of individual voters.

Also, in connection with the idea that senators represent states rather than aggregations of individuals, each state has two, and only two. The idea being that we have the House for the sake of more populous states, and the senate to even things out a bit for the smallest states. At least, thank goodness, in all the “reforms” since the late 18th century, we haven’t done to the U.S. Senate what we’ve done here in South Carolina — utterly destroying the very notion of the senate as a thing apart by imposing single-member districts on it, just as we did to the House.

Nevertheless, what we have done is turn the U.S. Senate into another House, only with longer terms. Which sort of defeats the purpose of a bicameral legislature.

Read the whole article here.

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