Monday, June 1, 2009

17th Amendment: Friend or Foe?

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

In April of 1913 the 17th amendment was ratified. It may be time that we take a fresh look at this again. After the Civil War there was an understandable mistrust that swept across the nation. Corruption was rampant, and the First World War was looming. So the seeds had been sowed to make this change and have the Senators elected by popular vote of the people. On the face of it, this seems like the fairest and most reasonable way of handling the election of the Senators. What it has actually accomplished is taken away the rights and the protections of the states. The people, us, would actually be better served by the election through the legislator.

The stimulus bill is a perfect example of how the American People would have been better served by repealing the 17th amendment. Many of the provisions in the stimulus package added additional costs to the states that they simply cannot afford. By accepting money for additional unemployment benefits the states are now forced into continuing this program on a permanent basis. This provision is what many Governors were objecting to. Another provision in the stimulus package was a clause that allowed the legislators to override the objection of the Governor of any of the stimulus money. These provisions forced the states to accept the strings that the federal government placed on the funds regardless of the needs of the individual states. If our senators are appointed by the legislators that is where the loyalty will lie. Each state will have two strong advocates instead of two individuals watching out for themselves.

If the senators are elected by the state legislators the rights of that state are more closely protected. This will also take away the need for all 100 senators to be constantly raising campaign funds. Just imagine all the corruption that will be removed. Many of the corruption scandals that senators are involved in are campaign fundraising related.

The Constitution was set up to have checks and balances at all levels of the system, and to be the most powerful at the local levels. Just imagine how much more work will actually be accomplished in Washington DC if our Senators were not trying to keep the special interest groups and their checkbooks happy and got back to the doing the work of We The People.

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