Utah senate votes to repeal 17th Amendment

Reply Thu 25 Feb, 2016 08:37 am
The Utah Senate on Wednesday called on Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment — so that state senators could again select U.S. senators.

It voted 20-6 to pass SJR2, and sent it to the House. It calls for Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1913 to allow people to directly elect U.S. senators.

Its sponsor, Sen. Al Jackson, R-Highland, says electing senators by the state Senate is needed because no branch of the federal government now represents the needs of state governments. A change would force senators to do that.

"Today, senators are more beholden to special interest groups than to their states" because those interests give them money for reelection, Jackson said.

He added, "It's time for our senators to come home every weekend and take direction from this body and from the House and the governor on how they should vote in the upcoming week."


I'm not sure when the repeal of the seventeenth amendment became the stuff of right-wing fantasies. George Will wrote a column about it in 2009, which means it must have been rattling around the skulls of some other, smarter conservatives long before that. The idea, it appears, is that a senate selected by state legislatures won't be so quick to let the federal government burden the states with "unfunded mandates" and Obamacare and who knows what else - safety regulations for buggy whip manufacturers, mayhap.

What the conservative commentariat fails to consider is the astounding level of graft and corruption that accompanied the election of senators prior to the adoption of the seventeenth amendment. It doesn't take a genius of the stature of, say, George Will to realize that it's a lot easier - and much more cost-effective - to bribe a few dozen state legislators than to influence a fickle electorate. That's why the amendment was adopted in the first place. Although, come to think of it, conservatives who support the repeal of the seventeenth amendment might view such opportunities for corruption as a feature of the old system rather than a bug.
Reply Thu 25 Feb, 2016 09:58 am
I can't even.

How does anybody think this could fly now?
Reply Thu 25 Feb, 2016 10:55 am
Because of the perception (somewhat justified) that Senators and Representatives no longer need to represent the needs of their states and it is all about the national party. A Republican from Utah and one from Georgia (or a Democrat for that matter) should have somewhat different agendas even though they are of the same party, but we have both parties voting in lock step with huge war chests to blanket the airways come election time and make sure the people vote their way again. Not that I support the idea for the reasons mentioned above, but I can see how state legislatures get frustrated when their Senators and Representatives never advance bills aimed at helping their states.
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Reply Thu 25 Feb, 2016 01:43 pm
I'm reasonably certain that the members of the constitutional convention envisioned the senate as some sort of "chamber of ambassadors," much like the Estates General of the United Provinces (Netherlands). The senators would receive their instructions from their constituents (i.e. the state legislatures) and represent those interests accordingly. I don't know if that ever worked out in practice. On occasion, state legislatures tried to instruct their senators, but that was never very successful or widespread, and the notion that legislatures had any right to dictate how senators voted probably died along with the Whig Party in the mid-1850s. Legislators today who pine for the good old days prior to the seventeenth amendment need to read some American history - and preferably not from textbooks approved by the Texas or Kansas state boards of education.
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2016 11:57 am
Frankly, I'm more interested in the fascinating way that the text of your discussion post slides laterally within what appears to be a text window, without the rest of the display screen moving at all. I've never seen this before at a2k. What's up with that?
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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2016 01:14 pm
I believe that it pretty quickly devolved into an award for party loyalty, and thereby a means of the dominant party keeping an eye on the Senate and the House. After all, that's what the Lincoln-Douglas debates were all about--packing the state house so as to be appointed senator. They were still doing that as late as the 1890s. Senator Platt of New York, who had been political boss for more than a generation, is said to have moved heaven and earth to get Theodore Roosevelt nominated Vice President in 1900, to get him out of the Governor's Mansion and out of New York. Paul Simon was an Illinois senator even when King James I was governor, and continued in the office when Jim Edgar took over. How much more convenient if they could just have appointed someone else. John Glenn was an Ohio senator for 24 years. I think they'd have elected him if he had been on life support.

Yes, it all makes sense now. Get rid of this phony democracy scam, and put the Senate back in the hands of state political bosses.
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2016 01:46 pm
Setanta wrote:
Yes, it all makes sense now. Get rid of this phony democracy scam, and put the Senate back in the hands of state political bosses.

There I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head. The GOP of late has shown a marked aversion to democracy. It is already trying to take the ballot out of the hands of more and more voters. This is just doing on a large scale what it has been attempting to do piecemeal for the last decade or so.
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2016 03:01 pm
That's one reason I don't agree with the idea of allowing the tea party undivided rule so that everyone can see how hard their ideas suck and then vote them out. Give them undivided rule and we may never have the chance to vote them out.

Elsewhere in Republican politics they are trying to gerrymander the Senate like they've already gerrymandered the House. What's that you say? You can't move state lines? No, but you can split a state that usually just barely elects Democrats to the Senate into a Democratic half and a Republican half, creating two new GOP seats. That's what these secessionist movements within states are about.
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