I probably could not have chosen a worse time to make my case for the repeal of the 17th Amendment. As I write this Illinois Governor Blagojevich is on his world innocence tour while avoiding his impeachment trial. In New York, the last two weeks of news has been dominated by talk of whether Caroline Kennedy has the right stuff. Gov. Paterson did not think so and mud was slung. Delaware’s choice to replace Vice-President Biden did not get as much press, but many believe that state’s new senator is a “place-holder” for Biden’s son, Beau.
When the state’s governors appoint replacements to the U.S. Senate, you have one for sale (allegedly), one to royalty (almost), and the other to the son of the previous senator (time will tell). Local politics at its best.
Believe it or not, that is how our founding fathers intended it. Maybe without so much drama, but their intent was to have senators appointed by the states. In their desire to have three equal, but separate branches of government, they prescribed a Senate appointed by the state governments. This was meant as a check on the House of Representatives and the Executive branch.
The process was intended to give the states a voice and stem the expected power grab from Washington politicians. It was thought that Senators appointed by state legislatures would oppose any laws that would take power away from the states. The Founders were very apprehensive about too large a central government.
In 1913 the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was passed providing that Senators would be elected by popular vote. Rather than representing their states and protecting states’ rights, they now would be subject to pressures to win elections. Can you say PORK!
It turns out that their paranoia was well founded. Have you ever contacted your U.S. Senator about an issue? I am not talking about potholes, but issues like immigration or the bailout. When you phone you often get a misinformed staff person and when you e-mail, their response does not really say anything.
That is why I make this plea. It may be a good first step to reign in the rapid growth of the federal government.
Let us keep our scandals local.