The 17th Amendment Mistake

The 17th amendment is unconstitutional.

While we recognize the ability of super majorities and the process in which the constitution itself might be modified, there is a strong sense of intent that must not be ignored.  The founders understood how “democracies” crumble, and built in safeguards.  The intent was quite clear, that the US House and Senate be populated by two very specifically different methods.

One by popular vote of the people, and one by the states themselves, in a particular manner:

Article 1, Section 3

1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

The 17th amendment changed this.

Enacted at a time where a great number of ‘progressive’ types occupied positions in government. The language turned what was different in the manner of elections to one that was a redundant voting method. The 17th amendment reads:

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.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Which begs the question: “why would we maintain two houses?”

Why bother?  A popular vote, and a popular vote, separated by only the years they may serve doesn’t have the characteristics necessary to protect the one sheep from the three wolves who are voting alongside it on the question of what is for dinner.

Using Michigan as a perfect example, one would look at the political party of our two senators, and assume we are a hard core Democrat state.  In MOST presidential elections, the President will get the majority here.  If the race were held today in fact, it is likely that even with the abysmal failure he has proven himself to be, Obama would likely STILL carry Michigan against a generic Republican candidate.  There are THAT MANY dedicated Democrats.

Why would anyone expect the ongoing Senate challenges to be any different?  In the same manner Michigan would likely most always select a Democrat.

The make up of the state has other characteristics however.  While the densely populated SE region leans liberal, the majority of the remainder of the state is either more centrist or conservative.  The results of the 2010 state house and state senate elections paint a pretty clear picture of how this would affect such things as Senatorial selections.  The entire legislature is politically opposite the senatorial makeup.

And it was ORIGINALLY planned to be that way.  With NO exception, as we see in Article 1,

Section 4

1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

While the founders made provision to the changing of the constitution by extraordinary measure, they did not intend for a change in the method of selecting the senators. This was something to not be tinkered with.  They were very clear in their intent to keep the elective process of the second house different.

It was the protection against the tyranny of the masses that we enjoyed prior to the 17th amendment.  Much in the way the electoral system was designed so that simply by having the most densely populated state, there was no guarantee that they would always have the final say on who might be President.

With this protection in place, the least among us still had a voice.

Which seems to have a ring of irony when that phrase is used by the same philosophies which brought us this unconstitutional change to our constitution.

4 comments for “The 17th Amendment Mistake

  1. Beth Webster
    January 8, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Jason, I can always count on you to be a step ahead of everyone. Once again you have brought to my attention a serious matter that needs to be remedied. Now if you will tell me who to start inundating with letters and phone calls to get the 17th Amendment repealed I will begin. I don’t think writing to Levin and Stabenow would have any effect, do you? 🙂

    • JGillman
      January 8, 2011 at 11:26 am

      The best place to start is with a sympathetic ear. So, if your current representative is unlikely to forward your thoughts or consider taking action, you can use the efforts of someone who MIGHT, but is outside your district to leverage action in other areas.

      This is an uphill battle. And i will write on it from time to time, but with the understanding that there may be little done to rectify this mistake anytime soon.

  2. Joel Dressler
    August 19, 2011 at 4:41 am

    For one thing, you clearly have no idea what “beg the question” means. And seriously, you’re claiming that a properly enacted amendment to the Constitution is unconstitutional? I think you need to be institutionalized …

    • JGillman
      August 19, 2011 at 7:06 am

      Argument for the sake of argument? You don’t like my political view so I should be institutionalized?

      Amazon has a few books they can sell you on the art of debate. Clearly you have no idea of what debate means.

      As to that 17th amendment, YES it was changed properly, but its role as defined by our founders was one that would have (for example) ended the debate about the Obama care mandate. As 26 (maybe 27-28 now) states have already filed suit against its implementation, the law would have been dead before it reached this point. The states would have been represented by their Senators.

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