ELECTION OF SENATORS

ON ELECTION OF SENATORS BY STATE LEGISLATORS

A political negative attack ad appeared on TV.  A candidate was accused of supporting a constitutional amendment to repeal the 17th, otherwise known as the direct election of senators. I have long supported returning to the original constitutional provision that senators should be elected by the legislatures of the several states. I never thought that this idea would make it into serious public discussion. (It still has not, but at least one candidate broached the subject.)

According to the propaganda, direct election is supposed to be more democratic and give the people more power over the government. In fact, it does the exact opposite. The various segments of the system are each jealous of their own power. In particular, the state legislatures are jealous of theirs. The concept of federalism is intended to reign in this jealousy. As long as the United States Senate is made up of people who are beholden to the states, the central government will not be as able to easily usurp power from the states. That is to say that more power would reside closer to the individuals.  That in turn implies greater ease for citizens to vote with their feet because with more power at the state, or even county, level , it would be much easier to move from say Colorado to Wyoming than to Canada.

With the direct election of senators, the states no longer held any control over the central government. The main purpose of having a bi-cameral congress disappeared. The practical effect was a massive increase in the power of the Feds in Washington at the expense of the states and ordinary people. That means that anyone wishing to influence the rulers must contact a politician in DC instead of the local capital. Now which is easier for an everyday person from, say, Meeker, Colorado wishing to petition the government: contact Denver, or Washington? Large corporations, big labor, and governments hire lobbyists to influence the legislation and gain control over folks.

As opposed to the ideas espoused through the propaganda of self-styled elites, the direct election of senators is actually intended to, and does, increase the supremacy of moneyed special interests. Only those with great financial resources can have a significant effect on policies. When senators were elected by the states, fewer programs were developed at the Federal level; and ordinary citizens on Main Street, as opposed to Wall Street, had more influence. Once direct election of senators was instituted in 1913, power was transferred from the homegrown to the denizens of New York. That is when America started down the long road towards the current financial crisis. How many unfunded mandates would there be if the senators were elected by the state legislators?

Incidentally, an added benefit of election by state legislatures would be fewer political advertisements and pesky automated dinnertime political phone calls.

Those who would oppose the return to the original senatorial elections by state legislatures are those very same powerful financial and political interests who seek to decrease yours and my sovereignty. Let us return power to Main Street by repealing the 17th amendment. It would also be helpful if state senators were elected by county governments.